Space as a cultural phenomenon in Jacques Tati’s films


Unfortunately I couldn’t attend class last week and therefore I haven’t participated in any discussion about the text we had to read. To make up for that, I’m gonna give a brief overview here of the text I read, being

  1. ‘Architecture in the films of Jacques Tati’, by Francois Penz

Penz’ text focusses, like its title already suggests, on two aspects of Jacques Tati’s films: the role architecture plays in them and Tati’s critical position regarding the architecture in his films and especially the architectural changes that occurred in the period the films were made, namely post WW 2.

Tati seems to be quite suspicious when it comes to modern architecture and modern technology. To some extent he could be seen as a nostalgist that longs for the clarity of passed times. Tati and his films show the viewer that the post WW2 time is a period of uniformity, wherein one is always ‘sitting on the same chair’ (Penz, 66). His films are a contra reaction to this phenomenon. Airports seem to be hospitals, a cafe is or seems to be a pharmacy and so on. The confusing way in which space is used in Tati’s films stress his sentiments on the uniform manner in which space is used nowadays. 

The way in which sound is used, also expresses that same idea. Extra layers are added, sounds echo unnaturally and by doing this, Tati deconstructs conventional ways of using sound (and space for that matter), with the result that the viewer is forced to think about space and sound in modern day life. 

Besides sound and space, Tati also uses mirrors and glass to create a multi layered image of space and cities. The reflections function in a same way as the ambiguous use of space and sound. The result is an overall alienation of space as a cultural phenomenon and a contemplation regarding that same cultural phenomenon.


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