Mon oncle [UK] Blu-ray Review
- Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1
- Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
- Resolution: 1080p/24 (23.976Hz)
- Audio Codec: French LPCM 2.0 (48kHz/24-bit), English LPCM 2.0 (48kHz/24-bit) (My Uncle)
- Subtitles: English
- Subtitles Color: White
- Region: B (Region-Locked)
- Certification: U
- Run Time: 116 Mins.
- Discs: 2 (1 x Blu-ray + 1 x DVD)
- Studio: BFI
- Blu-ray Release Date: October 29, 2012
- RRP: £19.99
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(All Blu-rayDefinition.com screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG at 100% quality setting and are meant as a general representation of the content. They do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)
With the success of Les vacances de M. Hulot (1953), Jaques Tati (Playtime) was able to launch his own production company, Specta-Films. Mon oncle was the first film he would release with Specta-Films and it reintroduced his bumbling comedic character M. Hulot, still at odds with the rapidly modernizing world around him. In Mon oncle, we see much of the groundwork laid for what is arguably Tati’s crowning achievement, Playtime. The jarring special effects, the cold industrial textures juxtaposed with the more organic rural world quickly being deconstructed and paved over.
Mon oncle finds M. Hulot (Tati) disrupting his relatives, the Arpels, a bourgeois couple who have built a home of gadgetry straight out of a World’s Fair “World of Tomorrow” exhibit. Even as Hulot and his bumbling ways bring a manner of chaos to the outward appearance of orderliness of the Arpels’ cool structured, and modernist manner of living, cracks have already begun to appear in the foundation brought on from the more bucolic outside world they have tried to shut out. Their young son Gérard likes to hang around a group of ruffians kids who play pranks on the townsfolk and get himself all dirty with them playing in the dirt. Meanwhile their pet dachsund, paralleling the adventures of Gérard, has taken up with a pack of strays that go around picking through trash bins.
Like any Tati film, much of the humor is implied rather than outright stated. It’s in the constant buzzing of the Arpels’ doorbell that disrupts the tranquility that they have supposedly constructed or the way Tati exposes the absurdity of all technology’s supposed ease of use when he shows the maze of ups, downs, and sideways paths he must take even in his own, more dilapidated building in the less well-to-do part of town, just to reach his apartment.
Mon oncle is truly classic Tati, and as with with many of his films, the comedy only reveals itself even more after multiples viewings. This one is no exception.
Mon oncle was scanned at 2K for this high definition release and it has been cleaned up nicely. While some film softness and issues with the source definitely still remain, the image looks relatively clean and definitely natural in this AVC/MPEG-4 108-p encodement from the BFI. There’s apparent film grain that is at times a little bit coarse, but never tipping over into an overwhelming state. The color reproduction is the strongest part of the transfer by far, as primaries and pastels pop with great vibrancy.
The French monaural soundtrack provided in LPCM 2.0 (48kHz/24-bit) sounds just a tad bit boxy and some louder voices are a bit on the shrill side, but mostly the sound effects and humorous score are clear and effective.
This is somewhat short on extras for a typical BFI release, although the English-language version of Mon oncle, My Uncle, is also provided on the disc. Tati worked on the film alongside the original French version and it contains a different opening sequence, some inserted scenes and different music.
- My Uncle (1.37:1; 1080p/24)
- Booklet: This is an unusually thin booklet for the BFI, containing simply one essay on the film by Philip Kemp, although it is a good one, and limited information on the technical aspects of the transfer.
The Definitive Word
BFI continue their strong Jacques Tati Collection with the incredibly enjoyable Mon oncle dual format release. It’s a must have comedy classic that anyone familiar with Tati’s Playtime will recognize and enjoy. Highly recommended.
Additional Screen Captures