LIVE! Blog Notes on Play Time (1967)

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Hello there readers! I am back for another whopping, popping frame-by-frame analysis of Jacques Tati's masterpiece, the one which, at first, was initially stumped by the mass public, now crowned by critics and academicians here and there as one of the most unforgettable films about modernity, the one and only, Play Time (1967)!

Shot for nearly three and a half years, Play Time is lauded for its complex and painfully constructed mise-en-scene. A year later, we all know that another mise-en-scene monster has come alive: Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), a film Auditoire really gave his heart out at the first viewing circa April 2010. Both films, shot out and filmmed for a different purpose, has one tangent point: a hell-of-a-way-too-cool staging of actors in deep focus cinematography, coupled with freaky but absolutely beautiful images that will make your cinephile juices ooze out way better than Avatar (2009) and Titanic (1997) combined.

But Play Time is a failure at the box office. The people in 1967 were expecting a bit of a different thing, because we how much Hulot, well-played by Tati himself, and the gang have entertained the 1950s French audience with his antics, comedic flips and tosses and some other stuff in Les Vacances de Monsieur Hulot (1953) and Mon Oncle (1958) both films yet to be seen by Auditoire this year. Hulot in Play Time is not a character. He is, technically. But one can observe that the dominant element in Play Time is mise-en-scene, mise-en-scene, mise-en-scene.

I won't delay this any further, so here we go:

[update every 30 minutes of the film]



1 | In the opening sequence, the texts are superimposed on pictures of clouds. The music is lively and a bit of a vaudeville song-and-dance music filled with rhythmic antics reminiscing some good old musicals like Singing in the Rain (1952). The superimposition of the simple text on the clouds and the uncanny music blends in multiple planes of symbolic flares, as it may appear to some, a little bit offset. This may be indicative of the complexity of the work and its attempt to stabilize the masterstroke in staging as can be observed in the following frames.

2 | The modern constitution of the frame in Tati's frames can be easily assumed that this is one of the films integral to the modernist wave of the 60s. The characteristic frames below is reminiscent of Antonioni's structural approach in frame composition. The sequence starts with a very sharp image of a building in external shot, superimposed with the clouds. We are initially not informed of its location. The following frames shows an external shot of nuns walking inside a building with clean windows. This is followed by a establishing shot in the next frame. The last frame was shot in deep-focus cinematography. It has a peculiar depth with multiple gags happening simultaneously in two planes. This multiple gags in multiple planes, as one might observed, occurs at different parts of the film.

3 | After a long take from the last frame above, the film is cut throguht tStill at the airport, disorienting 180 degree cut. The staging

4 | camera movement, defines the space,

5 | a series of establishing shots. quite disorienting.

6 | Arival of americals, no sign of hulot, the photographer,

7 | walking. interviewed, slippery floors, the audio has multiple sources, no emphasis. non-point sources.

8 | costumes.

9 | moving tourists in the set.

10 | a multiple plane mise-enscne

11 | an identified character from the tourists.

12 | a modern city

13 | first encounter with hulot via the green bus.

14 | very clean windows, fragility, complex buttons, complex life. the intercom. a certain technology. modern element.

15 | the depth is amazing. very far. walking. hulot being entertained. the dialogue is not much reflected upon.

16 | in a chamber. somewhat a Bretchian way of seeing things. Slippery floors. Clean and sterile. No room for errors. perfection.

17 | a squishy chair. comedic. emphasis on the sound.

18 | seats with a highly organized man, very proper, obssesive compulsive. Hulot somewhat is a disorder in the environment, the source of comedic relief. Isolation and modernism.

19 | start of hulots disturbance around the office space.

20 | trapped in the elevator, lost.

21 | Almost wordless. gags.

22 | Cubicle. Brechtian.

23 | a emphasis on the girl.. deconstruction of space. audio is comes from many sources. non-pount of sources. A labyrinth of modernity. ordered yet isolated.

24 | mirrors on translucent class. conclusion.

25 | hulots draws attention, very high angle shot.

26 | the colors are almost gray to . salesmen on the cushion seat.

27 | enters many gentlement, anti-flow hulot, taken by the gentle men in the elevator.

28 | a look at paris.

[29.40 mins into the film- update 7:50 - 8:45 whew!]