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Playtime (1967)

The endearingly clumsy Monsieur Hulot (Jacques Tati) wanders through the chrome and glass of modernist Paris, trying to deal with the confusion of the encroaching age of technology. This echoes a group of American tourists also roaming around the technologically-advanced but emotionally-deprived city.

There is no story or plot to speak of but it’s masterfully directed and the cinematography is simply stunning.

At the time, Playtime was the most expensive French film ever made. Production took place from October 1964 to October 1967. Filming began in April 1965 primarily on a set dubbed “Tativille”, where 100 construction workers built two buildings using 11,700 square feet of glass, 38,700 square feet of plastic, 31,500 square feet of timber, and 486,000 square feet of concrete. The elaborate set had its own roads, electrical systems and – in one of the office buildings – a fully working elevator.

Tati observed that the cost of building the set was no greater than what it would have cost to have hired Elizabeth Taylor or Sophia Loren for the leading role.

Monsieur Hulot
Jacques Tati
Barbara
Barbara Dennek
Mr Schultz
Billy Kearns
Mr Schultz’s Companion
Rita Maiden
Woman Selling Eyeglasses
France Rumilly
Shopper in Department Store
France Delahalle
Hulot’s Friend
Yves Barsacq
Tony, Restaurant Doorman
Tony Andal
Restaurant Manager
André Fouché
Mr Giffard
Georges Montant
Mme. Giffard
Erika Dentzler
Architect
Georges Faye
Mr Lacs
John Abbey
Mr Lacs’s Secretary
Valérie Camille
Singer
Nicole Ray
Hat Check Girl
Yvette Ducreux

Director
Jacques Tati