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Play Time (1967)


Play Time is a 1967 French comedy directed, written, and starring Jacques Tati.  This interesting and comedic film is about the events that unfold when a group of American tourists (mainly women) and a man named Monsieur Hulot wonder around Paris.  The film’s plot centers around Monsieur Hulot and an American tourist named Barbara.  Coincidentally, the two bump into one another throughout the film.  The film presents a rather comedic side to Paris and shows how people can become lost in the new modernity of Paris.

The general theme presented in this film is that modernity can be confusing and cloud the lifestyle of traditional Paris.  One of the interesting aspects of the movie was how the two major characters, Hulot and Barbara, both wonder aimlessly around Paris while the others are conforming with either the tour guide(s) or employer(s).   This non-conformist attitude provided the audience with entertaining scenes showing various comedic feats performed by the main characters.

The dramatic effect this film had on its audience was the way the movie was designed.   This revolutionary set and design created by Jacques Tati forced him to go way over budget to complete the thematically designed set.  The conformist/obedient people within most scenes came with the use of sharp edges and turns.  For example, one of the beginning scenes shows Monsieur Hulot aimlessly wondering an office building.  In this scene, the audience can see square cubicles lining an entire floor of an office building.  Another famous scene used in this film was featured towards the middle of the film when Monsieur Hulot runs into an old friend who in turn takes Hulot back to his place to visit.  Once the proper angle is set, the audience can see an apartment complex built for four residents.  The building is built in the shape of a square with four enormous windows which reveal the inhabitants of the apartments and showing the activities taking place such as watching TV or simply talking.   This scene adds onto the thematic idea of obediently participating in an activity which other people seem to follow.

Another element used in this film which was intriguing was the costume designs.  The clothing worn by the two major characters, Hulot and Barbara, show how both are non-conformist people.  Hulot and Barbara both wear more traditional clothing and/or out of style clothing through the eyes of most Parisians.  For example, the scene when Barbara walks into the restaurant titled the “Royal Garden” shows how the average Parisian thinks about her touristy and outdated clothing.

The cinematic sound effects and music were quite in good in this film for the simple reason that the music conformed well with scenes which were humorous.  The sound effects throughout the film seemed simple but were strong enough to add the finishing touches to a strange or humorous movement contrived by the actors.  Another cinematic wonder to this film was how the camera never had any close-up shots of any characters.  Instead, the camera was at medium to far distances from the actors.  Overall, this film showed its entertaining and comedic side, all the while enlightening the audience as to a Paris which could exist in the near future.

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