Les Vacances de Monsieur Hulot restoration question

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by PMBen, Dec 5, 2010.

  1. PMBen

    PMBen Extra

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    Pablo Manzano
    Hello Mr. Harris.


    I recently bought the new Blu-Ray disc of Les Vacances de Monsieur Hulot, a film directed by Jacques Tati in 1953. It comes from a restoration made in 2009 and it looks very good indeed. I couldn't make a proper technical description of it, as I do not have the neccessary knowledge, but to my untrained eye it looks less contrasty, more detailed and filmlike than any other copy of the film I've ever watched.


    However, I have some doubts about decissions done during the restoration. One of the members of the restoration team explains in this video how one mistake from the original shooting, in which a back projection trembled and, for a moment, did not match the set in which it was supposed to fit, was fixed digitally so that it looked all right. The owners of the film asked for it, arguing that if Tati were alive today, he would have wanted it corrected.


    It seems logical that Tati would have wanted his film to be as technically good as possible, but I wonder if it is good practice to make "improvements" on the work of a passed away artist and, if so, to which degree. I would like to have your views on the subject and on this particular example.


    Many thanks in advance.
     
  2. Douglas R

    Douglas R Cinematographer

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    Apart from the example you refer to, I also have concerns when directors themselves make "improvements" to their films. It's fine if the original version remains available but in many cases the original disappears. I saw LES VACANCES DE M. HULOT when it was first released in 1953 (UK cinemas titled it MONSIEUR HULOT'S HOLIDAY - the USA changed the MONSIEUR to MR!). Over the years Tati made various changes to the film and the current restoration is based on the last changes Tati made in 1978. Fortunately the dual format set (Blu-ray and DVD) recently released in the UK by the British Film Institute includes Tati's original 1953 cut as an alternative. It's the first time for very many years that the original has been made available and I am thrilled to have it. It's interesting to see all the various changes made - even the main title and title music is different to Tati's later version.
     
  3. PMBen

    PMBen Extra

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    Pablo Manzano
    Hello again.


    Mr Raynes, if you saw the 1953 version in theaters perhaps you could answer to a question I have about it. The gag about Hulot's boat breaking apart in the water (which, in the 1978 cut looks like the jaws of a shark) includes some shots of people in bathing suits which do not seem 1953 fashion (and I do not mean the final shot of people running away to the hotel, shot in 1978, but the one which appears before of a girl putting a record on a gramophone). I wonder if this shot or even the whole sequence could have been added in the 1961 reedit instead of being from the original 1953 cut. Do you remember if the sequence was there when you saw it on its first release in the UK?


    Many thanks in advance.
     
  4. Douglas R

    Douglas R Cinematographer

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    Pablo - I sometimes have a good memory about the films I saw very many years ago but remembering details of a film 57 years ago when i was 8 years old is stretching things too far! Fortunately I don't have to remember because, as I said, the BFI release contains the 1953 cut as an extra. The scene you refer to with the girl in a bikini playing a gramophone record on the beach is in that cut. I believe the bikini was becoming fairly common in France from the early '50s.
     

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