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Les vacances de M. Hulot(1953)
The film that brought Jacques Tati international acclaim also launched his on-screen alter ego: the courteous, well-meaning, eternally accident prone Monsieur Hulot with whom Tati would from now on be inseparably associated. As with Jour de fête, the film is set in a sleepy French coastal resort which is seasonally disrupted by holidaymakers in energetic pursuit of fun. At the centre of the chaos is the eccentric Hulot, struggling at all times to maintain appearances, but somehow entirely divorced from his immediate surroundings. There is little plot in Tati s beautifully orchestrated ballet of comic action: it s a series of incidents, a seamless succession of gently mocking studies of human absurdity.
For more about Les vacances de M. Hulot and the Les vacances de M. Hulot Blu-ray release, see the Les vacances de M. Hulot Blu-ray Review
Director: Jacques Tati
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Les vacances de M. Hulot Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, December 22, 2010
Screened at the Cannes Film Festival, Jacques Tati's "Les vacances de Monsieur Hulot" a.k.a "Mr. Hulot's Holiday" (1953) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of the British Film Institute. The supplemental features on the disc include an interview with acclaimed filmmaker Richard Lester and the film's original unrestored version. The disc also arrives with a 16-page illustrated booklet containing an essay by film historian and critic Philip Kemp. In French and English, with optional English subtitles for the main feature. Region-B "locked".
There isn't much of a plot in Les vacances de M. Hulot: Jacques Tati's famous character arrives in a small Brittany seaside town, registers in one of its hotels, and various things immediately start breaking apart; various people also begin doing strange things.
Les vacances de M. Hulot is structured as a collage of scenes featuring numerous fascinating characters. There is a frustrated waiter who has to deal with hordes of capricious tourists. An older man who spends a lot of time talking on the phone and a lot of time looking at women half his age. A friendly lady who loves tennis but does not have any friends. A beautiful blonde who inspires Hulot to go horseback riding with her. A group of snobbish card players who do not like to be disturbed. There are also children who love ice cream.
Most of the scenes are unrelated. The many characters in the film come and go, and Hulot's actions are not always the focus of attention. In fact, often there is a chain reaction of events, and Hulot is nowhere to be seen. Then he would suddenly appear and cause chaos.
Some of the scenes are hilarious, others not so much. Some are easy to deconstruct, others demand a second look. The film is charming, at times sentimental, but not simplistic. Most of the characters in it remain unnamed, but one does not need to know their names in order to understand what motivates them, what excites or angers them.
The dialog is extremely limited. Hulot for instance has only one line, which he utters when he registers in the hotel. Most of the communication is done through facial expressions and gestures. There are also various random sounds - though there is absolutely nothing random about them as they reveal what is about to happen or when the camera isn't pointed in the right direction what has already happened.
The film ends with a bang, literally - Hulot accidentally ignites a fireworks stand and all hell breaks loose. A few of the fireworks even hit the hotel. On the morning after the clueless tourists head home, while Hulot jumps in his strange little car and goes back to his planet.
Les vacances de M. Hulot changed Tati's career. The film received excellent reviews at the Cannes Film Festival in 1953, and in 1956 earned an Oscar nomination for Best Writing, Story and Screenplay.
Despite the warm reception, however, in the following years Tati kept improving his film – he re-recorded the soundtrack in 1962, and in 1978 cut various scenes and added footage to others. This Blu-ray disc contains the preferred by Tati version of Les vacances de M. Hulot, which underwent meticulous restoration in 2009.
Note: The restored version of Les vacances de M. Hulot runs at approximately 88 minutes. The original version of the film runs at approximately 99 minutes. The BFI have included the original version as a bonus feature on the Blu-ray disc.
Les vacances de M. Hulot Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.35:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Jacques Tati's Les vacances de M. Hulot arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of the BFI.
The following texts appears inside the booklet provided with this Blu-ray disc, and on-screen before the restored version of Les vacances de M. Hulot begins:
"This film has been restored by La Fondation Groupama Gan pou le Cinema, Les Films de Mon Oncle, La Fondation Thomson pour le Patrimoine du Cinema et de la Television, and La Cinematheque Francaise.
The original elements (for Les vacances de M. Hulot) were damaged and weakened by the repeated re-editing process, as well as by numerous changes performed by the director. The restoration project undertaken in 2009 is based on the last version that Jacques Tati edited in 1978. You are about to discover the last version, the one the director intended.
Thanks to photochemical process and digital tools, the original image quality of the picture and the richness of the sound have been successfully recreated. Mr. Hulot can not get back on the road and resume his act."
This truly is a wonderful high-definition transfer - fine object detail is outstanding, clarity dramatically improved, and contrast levels remarkably consistent. The color-scheme does not disappoint either; the variety of whites, grays, and blacks look exceptionally fresh. Edge-enhancement and macroblocking are never an issue of concern. I did not see any traces of heavy noise reduction either - the fine film grain is certainly intact and well resolved. Stability has also been greatly improved. I also did not see any annoying flecks, large scratches, cuts, debris, or stains to report in this review. Indeed, this is a wonderful release, arguably one of the very best in BFI's catalog. (Note: This is a Region-B "locked" Blu-ray disc. Therefore, you must have a native Region-B or Region-Free PS3 or SA in order to access its content).
Les vacances de M. Hulot Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There are two audio tracks on this Blu-ray disc: French LPCM 2.0 and International Dolby Digital 2.0, which appears in our database as English Dolby Digital 2.0. For the record, the BFI have provided optional English subtitles for the main feature.
The French LPCM 2.0 track is very strong. Understandably, it has a very limited dynamic amplitude, but the little dialog that there is in the film is crisp, clean, stable, and very easy to follow. There are no balance issues with Alain Romans' lovely music score either. Lastly, while viewing the film I did not detect any annoying pops, cracks, hissings, or audio dropouts to report in this review.
Les vacances de M. Hulot Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Les vacances de M. Hulot Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
If you could play Region-B "locked" discs, I encourage you to consider adding Jacques Tati's Les vacances de Monsieur Hulot to your collections. Indeed, the restored version of the film is very impressive. I would have loved to see a better selection of supplemental features, but this is still a lovely release. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
Les vacances de M. Hulot Blu-ray, News and Updates
• BFI Announces Two Jacques Tati Films on Blu-ray - October 29, 2010
BFI Video has announced that on November 29 it will release two movies starring and directed by Jacques Tati: Les vacances de Monsieur Hulot and Playtime. Both will come out in dual-format, two-disc BD/DVD packs. The films have been lovingly remastered in high ...
Les vacances de M. Hulot Blu-ray, Forum Discussions
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