1958. France. Jacques Tati. 116 min.
Wednesday, December 23, 2009, 8:00 p.m.
Theater 1 (The Roy and Niuta Titus Theater 1), T1
1958. France. Directed by Jacques Tati. Screenplay by Tati, with the artistic collaboration of Jacques Lagrange. With Tati, Jean-Pierre Zola, Adrienne Servantie. Winner of the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film and the Jury Prize at Cannes, Tati’s most ingeniously comical film follows Monsieur Hulot, the bohemian uncle of young Gerard Arpel, as he grapples (and wreaks havoc) with the ultramodern, ultra-hygienic “conveniences” of the Arpels’ automated home. Famously dubbed a “scatterbrained angel” by the critic André Bazin, Hulot liberates his nephew from the soulless, stifling, and regimented trappings of modern life—though purely by accident, like everything else he does. Mon Oncle is a brilliant sendup of petit-bourgeois aspirations and affectations; a film beloved by architects and designers, it is, in a sense, a parody of MoMA Design itself—of modernism’s utopian promise of better living through technology—even as it ironically makes that world seem utterly sensuous and seductive. Tati simultaneously shot two versions of Mon Oncle, one in English (the one shown in this retrospective) and the other in French, and considered them distinct works with differing mise en-scène. 116 min.