Close Up

7 February 2016: Gai Dimanche + Les Vacances de Mr. Hulot


Gai Dimanche
Jacques Berr
1935 | 22 min | B/W | DCP  

Gai Dimanche is a short film written by and starring Jacques Tati and his friend Rhum. The pair star as down-and-outs who try to generate funds by providing an impromptu leisure tour in a rickety bus they wrangle use of for free. Released in 1935 and rarely seen today, the film offers brief glimpses and hints towards methods Tati would begin to perfect in his films more than a decade later.  

Les Vacances de Mr. Hulot
Jacques Tati
1953 | 84 min | B/W | DCP  

The film that brought Tati international acclaim also launched his on-screen alter ego: the courteous, well-meaning, eternally accident-prone and much loved Monsieur Hulot. Hulot is an unforgettable character on the screen, walking with a long-legged, bouncy lope, his body leaning forward at a gravity-defying angle, accentuated by a tipped-forward hat, a long-stemmed, jutting pipe and trousers a few inches too short. He only utters one word in the entire film, "Hulot", communicating by movement and gesture, with a shy, slightly apologetic smile.  

Tati mainly cast non-professionals, with other actors recruited from the music hall. He always placed much importance on his soundtrack; once shooting was complete, he said, “it remains for me to re-shoot each scene, this time not for the images but for the sound”. Hulot's rickety vehicle, a 1924 Amilcar, and sound effects such as the 'ba-doingg' made by the swing door into the hotel dining room almost qualify as characters in their own right.  

Part of our Jacques Tati retrospective