Jacques Tati, Barbara Dennek, Rita Maiden, France Rumilly,

An apotheosis of modern design as both subject matter and technique, Playtime envisions a sixties Paris as sleek and strange as something out of 2001: A Space Odyssey (released the following year). This is the city as terrarium, a realm of glassy reflections where the distinction between interior and exterior is often not seen, only heard. (As always, Tati’s manipulation of sound is extraordinary.) Everything is at right angles, except M. Hulot, whose ordinariness makes him conspicuous. But he isn’t a protagonist, any more than the American tourists who wander through the film; as Tati said, “Playtime is nobody.” Or everybody. The International Style metropolis that the film observes with wonder was in fact an enormous, carefully constructed set into which the filmmaker sunk every resource he had; a box-office failure, Playtime bankrupted him. Now it is recognized as his masterpiece. The big screen is essential to the experience of the film in all its details, which, Jonathan Rosenbaum wrote, accrue to “become cosmically funny—comic in a philosophical sense.”

Juliet Clark
  • Jacques Tati
  • Denise Giton
  • Sophie Tatischeff
  • J. F. Galland
  • Jean Badal
  • Andreas Winding
  • French
  • English
  • German
Print Info
  • Color
  • 35mm
  • 124 mins
  • Janus Films

CineFiles is an online database of BAMPFA's extensive collection of documentation covering world cinema, past and present.

View Playtime documents  

In and out of sync (review), Reader (Chicago, Ill.), Fred Camper, 2010

Jacques Tati (program note), Institut Valencià de l'Audiovisual i de Cinematografia Ricardo Muñoz Suay, Román Gubern, 2009

Playtime (program note), Telluride Film Festival, Jean-Pierre Gorin, 2006

Playtime (program note), Harvard Film Archive, 2005

Jacques Tati's Playtime (program note), Film Society of Lincoln Center, 2005

Playtime (review), Reader (Chicago, Ill.), Jonathan Rosenbaum, 2004

Playtime (review), Village Voice, Elliott Stein, 2004

Improvizations and interactions in Altmanville (article), Sight and Sound, Jonathan Rosenbaum

Playtime (press kit), Janus Films, Jacques Tati

Play time (shot analysis), Institut des Hautes Études Cinématographiques, Jean-Daniel Bloesch

Displaying 10 of 15 publicly available documents.

View all Playtime documentation on CineFiles.