Jacques Tati, poet of the 7th art

Monsieur Hulot made the French laugh and cry with the postman of the Jour de fête before clinging to his skin and confirming the success of “Mon oncle”. Raincoat, battered hat, very short trousers, umbrella, pipe: from 1953, Jacques Tati, who died on November 4, 1982, remains in character. In a career spanning thirty years and just six jewels, the French filmmaker’s craziest, most critical and benevolent film marked his time.

Slender silhouette culminating at 1.91 meters tall, raincoat, green felt hat twisted on head, pipe in mouth, very short trousers in striped stockings. Created by Jacques Tati in 1953, Mr. Hulot is a subtly crude, dizzying misfit. How can you not think of Chaplin? Charlot and Hulot fought with the same combat panoply and burlesque weapons: they defended the small against the strong. Tati, an extraordinary witness of the glorious thirties, denigrated modernity, which standardizes, oppresses and dehumanizes to the point of absurdity.

Born on October 9, 1907, Jacques Tatisheff, known as Tati, is of French-Russian descent from his father’s side and Italian-Dutch from his mother’s side. An open presence on the world, it will therefore take a sharp look, combining unusual poetry and social vision. Laugh to think. A gift he cultivated very young.

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In June 1953, when Les vacances de monsieur Hulot was released, Jacques Tati met the real Monsieur Hulot, a chemical engineer in Enghien.

© Michou Simon / Paris Match

Tati

Tati styled her hair for the photoshoot, a critique of the modernity-loving bourgeoisie of Mon uncle.

© Tony Saulnier / Paris Match

Oscar for best foreign film in 1959

This old student, but no matter how funny, when he leaves school, he is destined to work as a staff first of all, like his father, but this is another frame he chooses, a show frame. He drew inspiration from his years of riding, tennis and later rugby to create his first comic pantomimes under the name Sports Impressions. With this number, he toured cabarets in the 1930s, sometimes starved even though Colette praised his talent, then discovered cinema and made several short films. He already knows that no one but himself will stage the flexibility of his body and the flexibility of his mind.

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For his first feature film, made at the age of 42, Tati leaves the studios and shoots “Jour de fête” films in natural conditions. A new wave will follow. For his second film, Mon oncle, he received the Special Jury Prize at Cannes in 1958 and the Oscar for best foreign film in 1959. Over twenty-five years, Tati made six feature films in the style of a visionary master discovering his craft. furrow Not everyone joined.

Jacques Tati and young actor Alain Becourt won the Special Jury Prize at the 1958 Cannes Film Festival

Jacques Tati and young actor Alain Becourt in Mon uncle, which won the Special Jury Prize at the 1958 Cannes Film Festival.

© DR

Jacques Tati with American actor Cary Grant at a gala dinner at the Chateau de Chancellor in Paris on May 29, 1959.

Jacques Tati with American actor Cary Grant at a gala dinner at the Chateau de Chancellor in Paris on May 29, 1959.

© Philippe Le Tellier / Paris Match

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“Mon oncle” won the Oscar for best foreign film in 1959. Here Jacques Tati with Robert Stack and Cyd Charisse.

© AP / Sipa

Goodbye Monsieur Hulot. We mourn his death, he should have been helped alive!

A descendant of a Russian prince, he became a burlesque aristocrat. His conceptual work is full of ideas and joyful visual jams, but he inherited the Slavic spirit of his ancestors, a mixture of brooding melancholy and heightened exuberance. Too much was his size. Tati planted thousands of daisies in the field for the “Jour de Fête”. For “Playtime” – ten years of work, including three shoots – he built a real urban studio in Joinville-le-Pont on an area of ​​15,000 square meters. “Tativil” is the world, madness, crazy playground, abyss. The initial budget was multiplied by seven, and the film was a commercial failure: with 1.2 million admissions, it drew six times less audience than Jour de fête.

Tati forecloses his house, loses the rights to his films. He is spoiled. He would produce two more films, Traffic in 1971 and Parade in 1974, but the good old days were gone. Revered abroad, including by Steven Spielberg and David Lynch, Jacques Tati is completely discredited as a pariah in France. And the César d’honneur awarded in 1977 will not change anything. When he disappeared on November 4, 1982, Philippe Labro wrote in Paris Match: “Adieu Monsieur Hulot. We mourn when he dies, we should have helped him alive!

Tati, shown in 1967

Tati in a scene from the 1967 film Playtime depicting an inhuman society. Set in Joinville-le-Pont, where a filmmaker rebuilds a town, the film will destroy it on a pharaonic budget.

© SPECTA-FILMS

With actress Maria Kimberly in November 1969

In November 1969, during the shooting of the film “Traffic” with actress Maria Kimberly

© Philippe Le Tellier / Paris Match

Tati, bankrupt and disappointed after the failure of

Tati, bankrupt and disappointed after the failure of “Playtime” and “Trafic” films, made his last feature film “Parad”, which was released in 1974.

© Michelle de Rouville / Paris Match


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