Playtime, 1967, Jacques Tati

‘The camera is backed away, at an amazing (and amazed) distance, from which it can contain what seems to be an entire city. It comes as a shock to discover that Tati actually built this city…We feel we are seeing Paris, or any metropolis. That is a tribute to extraordinary precision in the art direction, but it is also a proof of the tranquil, amiable gaze that Tati maintains. There is nothing like the inclination to see ugliness, or unkindness…Rather, Tati is charmed by the existence of things in space…Yes, this society is accident-prone and deserves to collapse or destroy itself, but its energy, its persistence, is beautiful and inspiring. It’s like watching cells grow and divide. What alarmed 1968, I suspect, was the authentic optimism of the film, its exhilaration, and the gentle growing fondness between, say, the dark girl in green and Tati himself, who wanders in and out of his own world, auteur and bystander. Truly a great film, the secret to the crowded frame.’

from Have You Seen…?, David Thomson