Jour de Fête (1949) Poster


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How lively!
Julien (Cescotto)2 July 2000
At a small village fair, the postman François is watching a documentary movie on American postmen: they use helicopters, airplanes and parachutes to deliver mail, for a rapidity question. Rapidity, haste: that's what's in François's mind now. He wants to deliver mail as faster as he can into the small communities he crosses everyday…

This film has surely got an easy-going atmosphere; the gags succeed and are never totally alike. The mosquito each time comes back when you don't expect it. François riding his bike always finds something different to get you laughing! If you are French, then you'll understand villagers' peasant accent, and you won't miss to giggle! Some gags may remember you Charles Chaplin's ones, except that Jacques Tati used speech and colors, but dialogs almost escape notice, and colors aren't shocking.

I recommend this one to Chaplin's fans and other film-lovers.
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Enjoyable and wholly entertaining.
winner5512 May 2007
Personally, I think Tati's films are hilarious; but they're not to all tastes. Some have told me that they loathe his work. I've never figured out why, but I think it's because the character that Tati usually plays himself is so totally dead pan, so unaffected by the events around him (which he is usually causing) that many miss the more subtle comic bits happening that effectively generate his environment.

At any rate, Tati's main shtick - or at least his best known - is to take a pretentiously upright petite bourgeoisie with 19th century sensibilities and drop him into 20th century France where he must confront a society that is largely defined by the gradual eroding of those sensibilities. He usually has serious difficulties with little things like record players or radios. He's a hazard in a car, but the world's no safer when he rides a bicycle. But through it all, he never loses his aplomb, which is derived from his inner recognition that the nineteenth century was more interesting than the 20th overall.

In this film, the 20th Century is best (or worst) represented by the recurring presence of Americans. Around the time of the release of this film, the French began to worry that the American, who had liberated them from the Germans, might never go away - a worry that remains influential in French politics to this day, and with some justification. Certainly Tati's postman, on his humble bicycle, appears to be no match at all for the Americans in their motor vehicles - except that his innocent buffoonery somehow manages to get the best of them every time.

That give's the film a slight satirical edge, and one which leaves a real impression. Otherwise, we still have the imperturbable Tati, whom "neither rain nor snow nor sleet" - whatever.

Enjoyable and wholly entertaining.
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An Introduction to Tati
Ben Parker16 June 2007
This movie will undoubtedly not be what you expect. The cover-art of Tati DVDs paints him as a Chaplinesque figure, but he's much gentler than Charlie. Charlie was energetic. You'll enjoy Tati's films if you expect a gentle trip to a beautiful little village. Throughout the film you observe more than get really involved. Tati always keeps you at a distance, like a stranger.

I liked Mon Oncle the best first run through, but by that stage it was the fourth of Tati's major four pictures I'd seen, so that must have coloured my impression. The most famous is Les Vacances de M. Hulot, and M. Hulot is Tati's famous character, who appears in Mon Oncle, Les Vacances and Playtime. He doesn't appear in Jour de Fete, which was Tati's first first feature-length.

Tati is the Antonioni of slapstick comedy. There's plenty to look at in his movies, as long as you stop waiting for a narrative. None of them have real stories. They do progress, but its more the visual motifs of the various townspeople that develop throughout.

Of the four I'd say Playtime is the least friendly to first-timers.

All copies of Jour de Fete since 1995 feature the imperfect colour process it was filmed with. Its not colourised, that's just the best colour method that Tati had at his disposal in 1949 in France. Even after restoration it suffers from over-brightening and unevenness in colour, and the overall impression is of a bad colourisation, so just be ready for that, and remember this colour version wasn't available until 1995, before that there was no colour, and I think the colour's an important part of the experience of Tati's fete.

I'd recommend you rent/borrow before buying any Tati, so you know what you're getting. Probably youtube won't be the best place: any small segment of his films won't make sense on its own, they're quite slow-paced, and the characters and scenes are meant to accumulate, not be excerpted.

Happy hunting.
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silent film lives on
tomquick15 September 2001
A wholly enjoyable film, in which dialogue is incidental to the visual effect. I preferred black and white over colorized, and the French version over the slightly edited US version (with subtitles and the addition of an annoying artist who participates in colorizing). The real joy is watching Tati. Underneath all the great gags stirs the soul of the postman: officious, determined, mulelike. All expressed without words by a mustachioed rail of a man poised delicately on a bicycle. I was glad to see in the credits that La Poste had sponsored the restoration of the film. A French national treasure.
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A masterpiece of quiet humour
jwaterworth27 May 2001
When I first saw this film I couldn't get it out of my head, and put it in my all time top ten. The magic has faded a little, but this remains a classic for its strange mixture of gentle slapstick, sight gags and verbal jokes, and its beautifully atmospheric portrait of French rural life.
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A feast for the eye
steve-66710 February 2000
When I first saw this film I was amazed by its simplicity but also surprised by its competence. Its a cheerful and really funny piece of a great French actor and director, with some fine and really original scenes in it. This comic masterpiece about a day in a picturesque little French village, in which the postman Francois is being followed, on his daily tour, when a carnival is taking place. The speed of the modern way of life is brilliantly compared by the typical easy calm French way. Francois symbolizes this old way by doing everything slow and wrong on and off his bicycle. The little but creative stunts are really figured out for that time and are inspired by Buster Keaton and have a little touch of Chaplin in them.

The uniqueness of the film is that the story is creating itself. As the day follows we get to know the village and it's inhabitants and we are also learn a small lesson by a little old lady with a goat.

Surely a must see!
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Gentle, sharp-eyed, teeming with life
jonathan-5777 June 2007
This first, non-Hulot comedy feature by France's Tati, who derives from the silent greats and can keep company with them too, centers on his gangly bicycling postman Francois, mingling with the many and varied denizens of a tiny, ancient French village. When the carnival comes to town, a tent cinema shows a movie of the hilariously high-tech, high-speed, muscleman American postmen, the insecure Francois first gets very drunk and then is seized with the urge to do his job very, very fast. Gentle, sharp-eyed, teeming with life, this isn't even regarded as one of his best, but after trying for years this screening finally brought me around to LOVING Tati. For one thing it's a love letter to bicycles, a sure sell for the surprisingly large Bike Week audience that came out to Cinecycle for this screening. For another thing there are more articulated personalities in this movie than there are in any dozen current releases; EVERYONE is acutely drawn, from the woman in the high window to the recurring character of the buzzing bug. It's a goddam tapestry of humanity, and as a result it's positively moving as well as laugh-out-loud funny. It's also very cinematic in spite of its antiquity, most obviously in some out-of-nowhere colorization, but also in compositions that pay off in a much less rigidly controlled way than any comparable American comedy - the good stuff is often happening in the corner of the frame, like a good Mad comic with a halo.
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The Americanization
Ilpo Hirvonen11 September 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Jacques Tati got an idea to create a comical postman character named Francois. He first got to try him in a short film L'école des facteurs (1947, The School for Postmen), which was first supposed to be directed by Rene Clement, who had directed a few shorts with Tati, but after Rene got sick Jacques Tati decided to direct it himself. The audience loved it and the producer asked Tati to make a full-length version of it? Instantly Jacques Tati started working on it. He used many of the same gags he had used in The School for Postmen, but added a deeper level; made the film more personal, symbolic and allegorical.

When France was occupied by Nazi Germany during WWII, Jacques Tati decided to go live in a small village. He promised to the people that if he'd keep making films after the war he would come back to the village to make a film. Well, after the war was over he kept his promise. This is one of the main reasons what why this film was successful; most of the people who acted in it were actual citizens of the village, they were the same people who helped Tati during the war. Jour de fete was made with an incredibly low-budget, basically the cast and the crew worked without salary, they decided to make the film and if it would make money they'd get it. So the cast & crew was very close and in it with their hearts.

In Jour de fete the peace of the small village is broken by aliens - the market people. The people who come to the village try to change it, bring something new to it, infiltrate to it. This is allegorical to Jacques Tati's earlier situation, when the Germans came to France, occupied it and changed it. It's a film against imperialism, this is one way too look at it. But there are several more interpretations and things to look at Jour de fete.

The other is the Americanization of France (and the rest of the world). Many film historians have researched how The Marshall Plan affected cinema; it had the strongest impact on Italy, but many state that the deepest study and influence can be seen in Tati's Jour de fete. Well of course the people who come to the village can represent this and globalization, but the most obvious reference is when Francois starts to compete with the Americans. This is quite a melancholy sequence in Jour de fete (Jacques Tati was always very good in combining melancholy and hilarity); the villagers decide to water Francois drunk and after that show him a documentary about American postmen whose mail work much better, they can post letters and packages much faster with airplanes and helicopters. After seeing this Francois feels the need to try compete with the Americans - starts delivering the mailings much more faster and the villagers joke at the expense of him.

This is a hilarious sequence where Francois hardly tries to work as fast as the Americans but just ends up losing the control of his bike and destroying mailings. Many have written long studies based on this one sequence. Jour de fete is basically a tribute to the burlesque comedy, to the American masters that Tati admired; Charles Chaplin, Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd. In this sequence Jacques Tati makes some clear references to The General (1926) a film by Buster Keaton. In The General Buster Keaton loses the control of his train, in which his girl is in. He starts running after it just as Francois does after his bike. The scene where Francois just almost gets the bike is taken directly from The General, when Keaton runs through the woods and just almost catches the train.

Jour de fete of course isn't just a tribute to these American masters; Jacques Tati was bored at only seeing American films like this, he wanted to make a French one and in the posters of Jour de fete he challenged the people to support French cinema instead of American. The scene where Francois tries desperately to erect the French flag at the center of the village is very symbolic; Jacques Tati tries to erect the flag of French cinema to the American ground (burlesque comedy).

In addition to the deep content of the film it's aesthetically gorgeous. Jacques Tati decided to make the first French color film, but because he wasn't sure of the technique they used two different cameras: one black-and-white and one Technicolor. Unfortunately they couldn't make it work in the laboratory and had to use the black and white version, which Jacques Tati didn't like. After his death his daughter Sophie Tatischeff made a new restored version with the colors his father wanted. This allows us to see it in its original form and I think it really needs to be seen in colors. Because Tati planned it to be a color film it obviously has some meaningful parts that don't work in black and white. It's aesthetically, but also narratively important.

This is a very good film after it was finished it instantly became very popular and the producers suggested Jacques Tati to continue making films with the character, Francois. But he wanted to make another character, which would have a wider meaning. In result of this born Mr. Hulot who Jacques Tati played in 4 films. Jour de fete is his first full-length feature, but still stands out as a masterful film.
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LeRoyMarko9 April 2001
«Jour de fête» is a very funny movie about François (played by Jacques Tati himself), the local postman who want to be as fast as the postmen in America. The camera work is excellent so is the cinematography. Very joyful movie too. The music score is great and it's a good way to show «l'ambiance de fête» that lives in the village.

I really enjoyed that movie. The only little drawback, and it's not really one, it's the regional french dialect used in this movie. I'm french-speaking and even I had some difficulty to understand some of Tati's lines.

8 out of 10.
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The bicycle as ideal transport
silverauk2 January 2003
You see the upcoming problems of traffic in this little village just after the war, I guess somewhere in Normandy where the bicycle of François the postman can drive from village to village. Some cars were driven really dangerously because nobody was conscious of the danger of accidents and some people drove to fast through the villages where everybody still lived on the street: the dogs as well as the chickens as the gooses as the elder people. When François gets drunk he enters the local café and stands in two seconds at the window of the first floor! The movie is full of gags that are inspired by Buster Keaton but absolutely original. The people he has to deliver the letters, peasants and habitants of the village shout at him: "A l'Americaine" which means fast and efficient but one of them also comments that he just should deliver the letters and that this is already quite an accomplishment. And yes, in Belgium postmen are now checked on maximum 9 seconds for delivering a letter. There also calculations to make another tariff for delivering letters in places far away. Jacques Tati is unsurpassed as a French comic and he has a very special place in history of French cinema not to be compared with anyone else.
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