Postcards from Paris: { Appearances by Monsieur Hulot }

An image struck my attention while waiting for my train. It was an advertisement for the newly restored version of Mon Oncle by Jacques Tati. The image is simple, an older gentleman on a bicycle with a pipe in tow and wearing a hat, and behind him sits a young boy, wearing a white collar and also a hat, smiling. Clearly set in a different time period, for whatever reason, perhaps it was the simplicity of it all, the image seemed incredibly current.

Skipping ahead to another scenario, the other day while working amongst holiday stress, a man passed by wearing a hat and a beige trench holding his arms behind him and striding nonchalantly past the cake counter. He seemed very familiar yet I could not seem to place him. I admired his calmness and cool demeanour amongst all of the holiday shoppers at Le Bon Marché. His familiarity remained in my mind throughout the rest of my working hours. After clocking out, I decided to take a different route to my station. When such inclinations to wander come to mind, I try to take them even if time isn't really on my side. I made turns down rues I normally wouldn't have, and passed by lovely Christmas displays. The shop windows in the 7ème are all quite festive with holiday cheer, but here comes the exception and the tie-in to it all. Third time is the charm, and there he was on display in the windows of a menswear boutique, Monsieur Hulot.
Who is Monsieur Hulot?
The character who inspired the creation of Mr. Bean, and described by Roger Ebert as, "friendly to a fault, but he is the man nobody quite sees. The holidaymakers are distracted by their own worlds, companions, and plans, and notice Hulot only when something goes wrong, as it often does." Nothing really went wrong in my case, on the contrary he was the calming sense that even if something did turn complicated during his quick appearances he was the character to relate to.


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