Mon Oncle

Jacques Tati, France, 1958


In this excerpt Jacques Tati sets two universes and two aesthetics against each other: The futuristic ‘modern’ villa of Gérard’s parents and the suburban, everyday, area where his uncle lives. The villa where the Arpels live was conceived by Tati and his artistic advisor with reference to the avant garde architecture of the 1950’s. It is characterised by precise geometric shapes, with cold, clean, featureless materials, and a colour palate consisting of whites and metallic greys. The kitchen resembles a health spa.
In contrast to this, the uncle’s home area is full of life and movement. There are many coloured objects, many of which move around and mix together. The journey from the modernist villa to the old quarter is made by a shot of a wheel of multi coloured windmills, like a rainbow in motion.

The only warm, bright colour in the functional universe of the Arpel family is that of the red lawn mower of the lady next door. The way she sits astride and steers this ridiculous vehicle is the only element which brings a touch of fantasy into this antiseptic world. Tati uses colour to bring a brief visual gag to life, in the shot where Monsieur Arpel is sat outside with his dog at his side. The man’s scarf and the dachshund’s jacket are made from the same tartan.



symbolic of the universe.