Trafic - Criterion Collection (DVD) ~ Jacques Tati (actor) Cover Art

Trafic (The Criterion Collection) (DVD)

Honore Bostel, Marcel Fravel, Maria Kimberly, Tony Knappers, Francois Maisongrosse

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Watch the official trailer for the film, "Trafic" starring Jacques Tati, Maria Kimberly and directed by Jacques Tati.

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Trafic, one of Jacques Tati’s later films starring his enigmatic alter ego, Monsieur Hulot, contains more direct social satire than his previous classics Mr. Hulot’s Holiday (1953), Mon Oncle (1958), and Playtime (1967), but lacks none of the vibrant physical humor that makes Hulot one of cinema’s most revered comedic characters. Filmed in a vivid color palette of red, yellow, and green cars against a silver and glass Modernist architectural backdrop, Trafic stars Mr. Hulot as the designer of an auto meant to travel in a truck to the Amsterdam Car Show to represent his company, Altra. Hulot’s camper wagon, aimed at simplicity with its efficient built-in kitchen and sleep gear, is constantly delayed due to car accidents, police run-ins, traffic jams, and other ironic mishaps. As Altra’s director (Honore Bastel) waits in their booth decorated with fake trees and bird recordings, Hulot, truckdriver Marcel (Marcel Fravel), and stylish public relations secretary Maria (Maria Kimberly), embark on an adventure in which their vehicles are clearly in charge. Dressed in his trademark tan raincoat and hat, Monsieur Hulot constantly transforms tragedy into comedy. In one famous scene, after hippies place an animal pelt under Maria’s car tire to pass as her dog, Pito, Hulot wears the pelt and dances to cheer his friend. Extended scenes showing trafficky highways and drivers fidgeting in their cars pitted against Hulot, constantly baffled by the technology he is supposed to master, reveal underlying themes of human disconnect with nature. Trafic stands as biting commentary against a culture sabotaged by the invention of the auto, and like Godard’s Weekend, stands as testament to a revolutionary age.

This Criterion Collection release includes important extras, like a 1973 episode of French show, "Morceaux de bravoure," in which Tati speaks about his overall working methods. Also impressive is his daughter’s full-length documentary, "In the Footsteps of Monsieur Hulot" (1989), which collects ample archival footage of Tati and his friend, professor A. Sauvy, discussing each film’s invention. Here, Tati said of Trafic that he was inspired to make a film that would make people smile after noticing so many frowns on the Paris highways. Road rage assuaged by cinema is a truly Modern gesture. --Trinie Dalton

Release Note

In Jacques Tati's Trafic, the bumbling Monsieur Hulot, outfitted as always with tan raincoat, beaten brown hat, and umbrella, takes to Paris's highways and byways. For this, his final outing, Hulot is employed as an auto company's director of design, and accompanies his new vehicle (a camper tricked out in all sorts of absurd gadgetry) to an auto show in Amsterdam. Naturally, the road is paved with modern-age mishaps. This late-career delight is a masterful demonstration of the comic genius's expert timing and sidesplitting visual gags, and a bemused last look at technology run amok.

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5 out of 5 stars ( [1 customer review

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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5 out of 5 stars hilarious, July 17, 2008
By monsieur monsieur
this is a great french comedy from the 70s. youve got to see this at least once in your lifetime. This is the last of Tatis films to feature Monsieur Hulot...great parody of modern society, even today!

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