Les Vacances De M. Hulot

Les Vacances De M. Hulot


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. He rarely initiates gags; he reacts. Things happen to him and around him, and half the time he doesn't even notice the confusion he's caused.

Les Vacances De M. Hulot is set in a sleepy French coastal resort which is seasonally disrupted by fun-loving holidaymakers. At the centre of the chaos is the eccentric Hulot, struggling at all times to maintain appearances, but somehow entirely divorced from his immediate surroundings. There is virtually no plot – the film is a series of incidents, a seamless succession of gently mocking studies of human absurdity. The pace is utterly relaxed; often very little seems to be happening, but deftly observed little social rituals and unspoken codes of etiquette are constantly in play.

The film was shot during the summer of 1952 at the small Breton seaside resort of Saint-Marc-sur-mer, chosen for its unspoilt, unmodernised charm. 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.

Special Features

- Interview with filmmaker Richard Lester
- Original trailers for Mon Oncle and Playtime
- Film notes and director's biography by film historian Philip Kemp

Technical Specs

Director: Jacques Tati
Year: 1953
Country: France
Language: French
Duration: 84 min
Colour: B/W
Certificate: U