Jacques Tati: Essential review

Between 1949 and 1974 Jacques Tati wrote, directed and starred in six feature films of such astonishing wit, invention and intelligence that he is often hailed as the most important comedy filmmaker of the sound era. The reasons for this are made abundantly clear by this set, which runs the gamut from Tati's celebrated Hulot tetralogy (Les Vacances de M. Hulot, Mon Oncle, PlayTime and Trafic) to his slapstick debut Jour de fête and the madcap circus of Parade.

Picture: The hi-def incarnations of Tati's six flicks (see 'Extras' below) have been meticulously restored and look absolutely stunning. Pick of the transfers is undoubtedly PlayTime, which is based on a new 4K restoration that easily bests Criterion's US release.

Perhaps the biggest beneficiary, though, is Parade. Despite being predominantly shot on video, the 16mm and 35mm inserts now look immaculate and easily justify the 1080p upgrade.
Picture rating: 4.5/5

Audio: All of the HD versions of the films utilise restored DTS-HD MA 2.0 mono soundtracks. Quality is generally very good across the board, although the clarity of dialogue becomes less of a concern in some of the latter films as Tati frequently plays it down in the mix, using it as just another aural effect to give the tracks extra texture. So: don't be worried if you can't always make out exactly what people are saying (which also explains why not everything is subtitled in English).
Audio rating: 3.5/5

Extras: In-depth critical analysis isn't in short supply in this boxset, with each of the six feature films coming accompanied by a lengthy video essay.

There are also multiple versions of three of the films (three for Jour de fête and two each for Les Vacances de M. Hulot and Mon Oncle). Unfortunately, not all of these are presented in hi-def, presumably due to a lack of quality source materials. However, as these are more often than not curios, rather than the definitive versions of the films, it's not a problem.

Also included is a seventh Blu-ray containing remastered versions of seven short films Tati made between 1934 and 1978. Accompanying this is a 31-minute reel of videos produced for a Tati exhibition at the Cinématèque Française in 2009.
Extras rating: 4/5

We say: This impressive boxset more than lives up to its 'Essential' billing. A genuine must-own for film fans

Jacques Tati: Essential, Studio Canal, Region B BD, £65 Approx