Flashback
A look back at this day in film history
August 21
November 5, 1982
Jacques Tati dies

On this day in 1982, Jacques Tati passed away in Paris, as a result of a pulmonary embolism, at the age of 75. Tati had begun acting on screen exactly 50 years previously, in Oscar, champion de tennis (1932), but his directing career only lasted 25 years and sadly offered up only six features, plus a handful of shorts. After Tati’s initial success with his postman comedy Jour de fête (1949) and then two Hulot hits, Les Vacances de Monsieur Hulot (1953) and Mon Oncle (1958), he had gone on a long hiatus before returning with Playtime, a Hulot movie set in Paris for which a massive futuristic set (known as “Tativille”) was built. Though hailed by François Truffaut as "a film that comes from another planet, where they make films differently," it was an enormous commercial failure and bankrupted Tati. He came back with another Hulot movie which parodied the advances of modern life, Trafic (1971), in which his comic hero was a car inventor, but the truth was that he was sick of his bumbling alter ego. He was absent from his final feature, Parade, a 1974 circus film made for Swedish, and at the time of his passing he was planning a project, Confusion, which would be a serious film that began with the death of Monsieur Hulot. In an interesting development, Tati’s work is set to return to the screen shortly as French director Sylvain Chomet (best known for The Triplets of Belleville) is close to completing The Illusionist, based on a 1956 script by Tati.


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