Analysis of Jacques Tati’s Movie 'Playtime'

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Jacques Tati’s ‘Playtime’ (1967) is an almost wordless comedy movie showing confusion in an age of high technology. It takes place in a world of modern architecture, a world of glass and steel, endless corridors, elevators, modern work offices, air conditioners, mass produced-furniture and everything else. It is a representation of what life would be like if we lived like robots, with everything in order and no identity. It shows how humans would wander around cities with no identity and sterile architecture. Along the movie, characters look at the sky with joy, as if the world they are living in is a prison and the sky is a window. The movie does not have a plot or a main character. It has a cast of hundreds, some characters stand out more than the others, but the movie does not center on them but it flows on the incidents that happen around them.

One of the most important points in the film is Le Corbusier's exaggerated concept of the modern city. The movie is filmed in Paris, but Paris is represented as a city with steel frame structures and overhanging glass. We get to see the image of Paris only in the reflection of the glass doors. Throughout the movie we see images of other large cities as well, but the only thing that differs in the images is the name of the city written. According to this, it does not matter where you are because all the cities would be the same, the only thing distinguishing would be the language spoken. This is one of the ideas of Le Corbusier for the modern city, to create a greater equality. Other than that, if we watch the movie with no sound, it would be hard to identify the tourists, since everyone is wearing black or white or grey, which shows another aspect of living in a modernist city where everybody is equal and lives the same life. Another interesting point is that the movie colors are mostly grey, which is another reason why the city looks ‘boring’ and gives a depressing feeling.

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We only get to see colors when one of the characters tries to take picture of a flower shop. Furthermore, there is scene in the movie with a sign written ‘Thro. out Greek style’, where Greek columns are designed as garbage bins, which shows that modern denies the past. The Greek column is something in the past that no longer has any meaning to the modern world.

Another point worth mentioning from the movie is the change on the movie from being dull in the beginning, to a natural way of living by the end of the film. The opening of the restaurant ‘Royal Garden’ can be seen as an important turning point. As people come in, everything around start falling apart. In this scene we see that the more things go wrong with the restaurant, the more people get to relax and enjoy themselves. At one point a facility falls and that is when the party begins and everyone starts having fun. This shows how communities should be in real life, not controlled but free to be themselves. In this part of the movie, we get to see warmer colors, more laughter and people dancing, in simpler words a world slightly different from the modern one outside of the restaurant.

In conclusion, ‘Playtime’ can be identified as a world image put on a screen. The director illustrates a different life which would result from the appliance of modern architecture. During the movie we see a lot of examples of humans adapting to the built environment, instead of having the built environment suitable for humans. The foreigners see this as a quality of architecture of the foreign land they are exploring, but the locals accept it as a modern life.

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Analysis of Jacques Tati’s Movie ‘Playtime’. (2022, December 15). Edubirdie. Retrieved July 16, 2024, from
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