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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Satire > Comedy > Beach > Mime > Games > Tecnhology > Modernism > Travel > France > Large Frame For > Les Vacances de Monsieur Hulot (aka Mr. Hulotís Holiday/1953) + Play Time (aka PlayTime aka Playtime/1967/BFI Blu-ray/DVD Dual Format Edition Sets)

Les Vacances de Monsieur Hulot (aka Mr. Hulotís Holiday/1953) + Play Time (aka PlayTime aka Playtime/1967/BFI Blu-ray/DVD Dual Format Edition Sets)


Picture: B/B+†††† Sound: B- & C+/B & C+†††† Extras: B-/B†††† Films: B/A



PLEASE NOTE: These Blu-rays are Region B and DVDs are Region 2/PAL format, so both can only be operated on machines capable of playing back Blu-rays in the Region B or Region Zero/0/Free and DVDs only be played on Region Zero/0/Free PAL or Region 2/PAL capable players.Both Blu-ray/DVD sets can be ordered from our friends at BFI in the U.K. at the website addresses provided at the end of the review.



In his great, underrated filmmaking career, Jacques Tati proved to often be a genius and for five films in a row, played the legendary, classic character Monsieur Hulot whose antics bridge the long great road of silent comedy between Charlie Chaplinís Little Tramp and Rowan Atkinsí Mr. Bean.BFI now joins Criterion in releasing Tatiís 1967 masterwork PlayTime (the 4th of the 5 Hulot films) on Blu-ray and beats everyone in issuing the debut Mr. Hulot film on Blu-ray: Les Vacances de Monsieur Hulot (aka Mr. Hulotís Holiday from 1953.


Tati was a comic genius, understood people, life and was a top rate mime in real life.Hulot was only his second-ever feature film and it was an international hit, featuring the character going on vacation at a hotel in a small coastal section of France.Even driving through the town in his small car (for which his tall self is just too tall for), he causes havoc without trying and it only gets worse for all as he tries to enjoy himself by the ocean.The culture clashes and subtle subversions (including of the solemn and serious) stunned audiences and became an all-time French comedy classic.Seeing it looking and sounding this good brings back its freshness and the comedy works better than it ever did because you get to really experience it as first hand as possible.It just gets better with age.


The Blu-ray includes the original 1953 cut, while both format editions include his 1978 re-edit of the film and I like both.


As key as that Hulot debut film is, my favorite Hulot film is the comedy epic PlayTime, which he shot in 65mm negative for big-screen 70mm playback and funded the film himself entirely.As noted, Criterion issued it on Blu-ray and the two versions are very similar.You can read all about the film and that version at this link:





The two Blu-ray editions (For the record, Criterionís is Region A only) are equal on a playback level for the most part, but have some different extras and slight technical differences.Weíll save most of it for the technical section below, but video versions of the film in all formats have either been on the blue or green side.On Blu-ray, Criterionís version was a bit blue, while BFIís is a bit green.To BFIís advantage, this makes the greens look better and more naturalistic, plus the picture looks slightly more naturalistic with a tad more detail than Criterionís, expect that it now seem too poor when it comes to the Blues.Why is this happening?Because both are from a 35mm reduction internegative off of the 70mm restored print, so though they both look really good, they are slightly compromised.As a big fan, I now have tow ways to watch this masterpiece, so I will not complain.More on that in a moment.




The 1080p 1.33 X 1 black and white digital High Definition image on both cuts of Hulot on the Blu-ray is about as good as we are ever going to see it, though the older version is a little weak since the materials have not held up as well, but Video Black, Video White, contrast and detail are impressive and it surpasses any copies I have ever seen of the film before on DVD or VHS.The DVD version is good for the format, but cannot reproduce the best shots on either Blu-ray cut.Tati used two Directors of Photography, Jacques Mercanton and Jean Mouselle, but the work is seamless and does not show its age much in form either.The PCM 2.0 48/24 Mono on Hulot is about as good as this is going to ever sound, showing its age in both the French and International soundtrack editions (the latter being updated for this release, Christopher Lee was involved in some of the dubbing, apparently), but cleaned up as well as possible without ruining the tracks with compression or other issues.The music score by Alain Romans is great, often the riot it is intended to be and when you add the clever sound effects, you get one of the smartest monophonic sound mixes of the decade.The Dolby Digital 2.0 192 kbps Mono on the DVD is also just fine and just surpasses all previous analog and lossless presentations.


Extras in Hulot include the original theatrical trailer and a 36-minutes-long interview from 2004 with Director Richard Lester (A Hard Dayís Night) on the film and its influence on him, but these are only on the DVD version.The booklet inside the case includes technical information, cast/crew information, stills and two essays by Philip Kemp: a Tati bio and smart piece on the film.



The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image on PlayTime is again the proper frame for a 35mm reduction of a 70mm (2.20 X 1) and better than a 2.35 X 1 scope print.There are still some limits as this is a reduction, but the film has been reconstructed as much as possible, though it is nearly two hours and the original was 2.5 hours at its longest.Still, it is a monumental work and as visually stunning as anything being made today.To repeat, Tati also used to Directors of Photography here, but they were not the same as Hulot, but were Jean Badal and Andrťas Winding.Once you start watching, you cannot stop.It is no secret that I did not like either Criterion DVD of the film, so I was happy when the anamorphically enhanced DVD version here was everything I had hoped for years ago (years before any HD format) for the film, so fans will not be disappointed, though it is no match for either Blu-ray edition.The PCM French 2.0 48/24 Stereo and Dolby Digital International 2.0 192 kbps Stereo tracks on PlayTime are exactly the same as Criterionís and sound just fine, though a multi-channel mix is something I would like to hear (DTS restored the filmís sound in part).Both tracks on the DVD are also Dolby Digital 2.0 192 kbps Stereo.



Extras on this PlayTime include a trailer, Au-dela de Playtime (2002/6 minutes) look at the film, Script Girl (2003/12 minutes) Sylvette Baudrot interview and Tati Story (2003/21 minutes) short biographic film on Tati, all on the DVD only, while the Blu-ray adds an outstanding feature length audio commentary track by Philip Kemp and both have a 1968 NFT audio interview with Tati.The booklet inside the case includes technical information, cast/crew information, stills, three pages from the original French pressbook and three terrific essays: Playtime by David Furnham, Journey To Tativille by Claire Clouzot and The Most Incredible 90 Minutes by Kevin Brownlow.



To order, go to each of the following links as labeled:


M. Hulotís Holiday







-†† Nicholas Sheffo


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