Mon Oncle (1958)

So I’ve heard and read rave reviews of Mon Oncle the masterpiece of Jacques Tati. It won the Oscar for Best Foreign film,  the Jury Prize at Cannes and a bunch of other awards. The funny thing about the film is that the dialogue is meaningless and is really only used for its sound along with the other sound effects in the film.

The film is about Monsieur Hulot, the french Charlie Chaplin, and his  struggles to deal with technology (the gadget-ization of the world) and the increasingly impersonal nature of people. At times it feels that this movie could have come out recently as we are still dealing with these issues. Hulot is the beloved oncle (uncle) of Gérard Arpel, who lives with his parents in a crazy modernized and gadget-ed  house. The problem is that the Gérard’s parents believe that Hulot needs to grow up, start a family and get a job, but Hulot wants none of it. The film begins and end with basically the same shot of dogs in the streets.

This was a difficult film to watch since from the reviews I read they made it out to be like Chaplin’s Modern Times, but although in a similar vein  Mon Oncle just seems to be saying that tearing down to old and replacing them with modern things isn’t the best solution for anything. Perhaps we should take that advice and try to relate to people more instead of gadgets and taking about things rather than possessions. I didn’t find it to be as funny as Modern Times but perhaps that is due to the fact that I don’t understand french humor.


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