Jacques Tati, Maria Kimberly, Marcel Fraval, Honore Bostel,
In Traffic, Tati’s Monsieur Hulot is a resourceful automobile salesman en route to an Amsterdam car show, where he will present an elaborate camper on behalf of a Paris firm. Getting there is half the agony in Tati’s apocalyptic vision of mechanized modernity, in which humankind indulges in a perpetual love-hate relationship with its favorite pet, the automobile. Tati’s rigorously composed soundtrack is a dense amalgam of voices, speaking no fewer than four languages, and the assorted noises of cars and other machines. In his inventive sight gags, cars settle back on their haunches like stubborn animals and yawning hoods transform their vehicles into snapping monsters. Add to this Tati’s ironic observations on the mentality of the salespeople who promote these strange creatures, and the result is an intimation, in his ever-controlled manner, of the chaos looming in a world increasingly controlled by Monsieur Machine.