After the success of Mon Oncle in 1958, Jacques Tati became fed up with his signature Monsieur Hulot character. Slowly, he inched his way toward a new kind of cinema—a supremely democratic film starring “everybody,” in which the wonders of modern life would relinquish their functionality and become a ravishingly beautiful backdrop to pure human delirium. Playtime’s massive set, known as Tativille, was built in Saint-Maurice, in the southeast corner of Paris, complete with its own power plant and approach road and two entire buildings whose amenities included a working escalator. At the end of the road, there lay ignominy and bankruptcy—and one of the great masterpieces of postwar French cinema.