Play Time

(1967)

Genres: Comedy

Movies That Made Us Critics: Play Time

Transcript for Movies That Made Us Critics: Play Time

IGNATIY VISHNEVETSKY:
The next film I’d like to talk about is PLAY TIME, by the French director and comic performer Jacques Tati.  Though Tati is the star of the film, his character is just a tiny part of a vast comic tapestry.  Set mostly in an ultra-modern block of buildings in Paris, and shot in ultra-crisp 70 millimeter, this 1967 movie is, for me, perhaps the definitive big screen experience.

CLIP from PLAY TIME

IGNATIY: 
The film is composed almost entirely of wide shots where dozens of actors perform comic bits at various rhythms.  Tati believed that comedy belonged to everyone, and in PLAY TIME, he allows us to peer into his compositions and decide for ourselves what to focus on.  Take a look at this scene, set in a restaurant:

CLIP from PLAY TIME

IGNATIY:
PLAY TIME is a different film every time you see it.  With every viewing you become aware of more and more details and patterns.

CLIP from PLAY TIME

IGNATIY:
While FOOLISH WIVES helped me realize that movies could not only imitate, but equal any other media such as art or literature or theatre, the complexity and the density of the comedy in PLAY TIME made me understand that movies had the ability to surpass other forms.  This film is without precedent or equal in any other medium, and it convinced me that – because it’s able to absorb everything else we’ve created – cinema is capable of being the pinnacle of culture.