Screened as part of NZIFF 2003

Mr Hulot's Holiday 1953

Les Vacances de Monsieur Hulot

Directed by Jacques Tati

France In French with English subtitles
83 minutes 35mm / B&W



Jacques Tati
Henri Marquet
Pierre Aubert
Jacques Lagrange


Jacques Mercanton
Jean Mousselle


Suzanne Baron
Charles Bretoneiche
Jacques Grassi


Jacques Tati
Nathalie Pascaud
Michèle Rolla


Palme d’Or, Cannes 1953


Mr Hulot, Tati’s onscreen alter ego, appeared for the first time in what is both a classic screen comedy and a classic of modernist cinema. Its skeletal narrative – Mr Hulot goes on vacation at the beach – is really just an excuse for an exquisitely staged string of mishaps involving an especially confusing train station, a stubborn horse, Hulot’s eccentric car, errant tennis balls, fireworks(!), in short, just about everything he encounters.

“People are at their most desperate when they are working at enjoying themselves: it is Jacques Tati’s peculiar comic triumph to have caught the ghastliness of a summer vacation at the beach. Fortunately his technique is light and dry slapstick: the chronicle of human foibles and frustrations never sinks to the moist or lovable. As director, co-author, and star, Tati is sparse, eccentric, quick. It is not until afterward – with the sweet, nostalgic music lingering – that these misadventures may take on a certain depth and poignancy.” — Pauline Kael