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Trafic, one of Jacques Tati’s later films starring his enigmatic alter ego, Monsieur Hulot, contains more direct social satire than his previous classics Mr. Hulot’s Holiday (1953), Mon Oncle (1958), and Playtime (1967), but lacks none of the vibrant physical humor that makes Hulot one of cinema’s most revered comedic characters. Filmed in a vivid color palette of red, yellow, and green cars against a silver and glass Modernist architectural backdrop, Trafic stars Mr. Hulot as the designer of an auto meant to travel in a truck to the Amsterdam Car Show to represent his company, Altra. Hulot’s camper wagon, aimed at simplicity with its efficient built-in kitchen and sleep gear, is constantly delayed due to car accidents, police run-ins, traffic jams, and other ironic mishaps. As Altra’s director (Honore Bastel) waits in their booth decorated with fake trees and bird recordings, Hulot, truckdriver Marcel (Marcel Fravel), and stylish public relations secretary Maria (Maria Kimberly), embark on an adventure in which their vehicles are clearly in charge. Dressed in his trademark tan raincoat and hat, Monsieur Hulot constantly transforms tragedy into comedy. In one famous scene, after hippies place an animal pelt under Maria’s car tire to pass as her dog, Pito, Hulot wears the pelt and dances to cheer his friend. Extended scenes showing trafficky highways and drivers fidgeting in their cars pitted against Hulot, constantly baffled by the technology he is supposed to master, reveal underlying themes of human disconnect with nature. Trafic stands as biting commentary against a culture sabotaged by the invention of the auto, and like Godard’s Weekend, stands as testament to a revolutionary age.

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