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Screening the Paris suburbsFrom the silent era to the 1990s$
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Derek Schilling and Philippe Met

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781526106858

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9781526106858.001.0001

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Tati, suburbia and modernity

Tati, suburbia and modernity

Chapter:
(p.101) 8 Tati, suburbia and modernity
Source:
Screening the Paris suburbs
Author(s):

Malcolm Turvey

Publisher:
Manchester University Press
DOI:10.7228/manchester/9781526106858.003.0009

The author reconsiders the commonly held notion that Jacques Tati’s Mon Oncle (1958) adumbrates a negative ‘critique’ of modern suburbia as a space of alienation. The functions given to architectural forms or elements of landscaping on the one hand can be distinguished from the comic uses of these forms onscreen on the other, for instance to satirise bourgeois habits or to reaffirm the prerogatives of childlike creative engagement with the built environment. The director strikes a balance between the mockery of conspicuous consumption and the enchantment of an unruly, unpredictable object world. Attention is paid the narrative of post-war French suburban development, the thunderous reception of Mon Oncle, and the peculiar approach that Tati and chief decorator Jacques Lagrange took to set design and the Arpel villa in particular, which overtly parodies interwar French high modernism. The villa’s stark opposition to the eponymous character’s ramshackle rooming house in suburban St. Maur allows Tati to elicit a specific audience response to shared values of spontaneity and disorder that modernizing tendencies in post-war France were in the process of destroying.

Keywords:   architecture, parody, comedy, consumption, set design

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