Directors like Alfred Hitchcock and Stanley Kubrick are notorious for the meticulous manner in which they constructed their films, shooting and reshooting to an incredible extent in order to get exactly what they wanted. But as demanding and thorough as they were, they pale in comparison to the precision of French filmmaker Jacques Tati. He only made a handful of films in his lifetime, with years separating each title as he tweaked and perfected them. His “Playtime,” is getting an official reissue, and there’s a new trailer to mark the occasion.
Working from 1949 to 1974, Tati’s total feature output only consists of six movies—“Jour de Fete,” “Mr. Hulot’s Holiday,” “Mon Oncle,” “Trafic,” “Parade” and “Play Time.” Of these, many consider 1967’s “Playtime” to be his true masterpiece. After growing disillusioned with his signature Monsieur Hulot alter ego, nine years elapsed between this film and his previous effort, “Mon Oncle,” but his return was well worth the wait. It’s like an intricately choreographed, 155-minute dance, with barely a word spoken.
The film sees Tati’s Chaplain-esque Hulot, a quiet, simple man in his trademark trench coat, hat and pipe, try to navigate a modern, sterile, pseudo-futuristic Paris, with hilarious results. And Tati captures it all perfectly. It’s a bit surreal, has more than a touch of slapstick, and is one of the most intricate, painstakingly constructed films ever made. In many ways, it’s a direct precursor to Terry Gilliam’s “Brazil.” Shot on 70mm, and still as gorgeous as the day it premiered, the film is visually stunning, and holds up even 47 years later.
This digitally restored version follows Tati’s perfectionist approach, and the new 4K version returns to movie theaters in the U.K. on November 7. U.S. audiences better keep their fingers crossed that this hops the pond soon, but until then, watch the trailer for the “Playtime” reissue below.