Jacques Tati (October 9, 1908 - November 5, 1982) was a French filmmaker. He was born Jacques Tatischeff, the son of Russian father Georges-Emmanuel Tatischeff and Dutch mother Marcelle Claire Van Hoof, in Le Pecq, Yvelines, and died in Paris.
Originally a mime, in the late 1930s Tati recorded some of his early supporting cameos on film with some success and thus began his career as a filmmaker. His films have little dialogue or plot but are built around elaborate visual gags and careful sound design. In all his films, Tati plays the lead who with the exception of his first and last films is the gauche and socially inept Monsieur Hulot. With his trademark raincoat, umbrella and pipe, Hulot is among the most memorable comic characters in cinema. An important theme in Tati's work, most notably in Mon Oncle and Playtime, is the impracticality and ugliness of modern technology and design.
Tati's first major feature, Jour de f├¬te, is about a village postman who is influenced by a film shown at the village fair to go to extreme lengths to improve his mail deliveries. The film was shot in a new color process that turned out to be too difficult to process, so the film was released in black and white - until the color version was restored and released in the 1990s.
His second film, Les Vacances de Monsieur Hulot, introduces Hulot and follows his adventures at a French beach resort. It earned Tati an Oscar nomination (shared with Henri Marquet) for Best Screenplay.
Tati's next film Mon Oncle was his first film to be released in color and revolves around Hulot's hapless efforts to obtain a job. It won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 1958.
Playtime, shot in 70mm, was Tati's most daring and most expensive work; it took him nine years to complete and he had a modern city, dubbed Tativille, built on the outskirts of Paris. Narratively it had even less of a plot than his earlier films with a smaller role for the Monsieur Hulot character. The film follows Hulot and a group of tourists as they visit a modernist version of Paris. Its running time was originally 155 minutes, but Tati himself cut it to 120 minutes, and this is the version that is general release. The film was a critical success, but a massive commercial failure, and it left Tati in substantial debt.
Tati made two more films with far more modest budgets: Trafic which featured Hulot as an automobile designer travelling to an auto-show, and Parade, a TV film about a circus. His final script Confusion, about television, was never produced.