The Complete Jean Vigo (Criterion) (1930)
Set Synposis: Even among cinema's legends, Jean Vigo stands apart. The son of a notorious anarchist, Vigo had a brief but brilliant career making poetic, lightly surrealist films before his life was cut tragically short by tuberculosis at age twenty-nine. Like the daring early works of his contemporaries Jean Cocteau and Luis Buñuel, Vigo's films refused to play by the rules. This set includes all of Vigo's titles: À propos de Nice, an absurdist, rhythmic slice of life from the bustling coastal city; Taris, an inventive short portrait of a swimming champion; Zéro de conduite, a radical, delightful tale of boarding-school rebellion that has influenced countless filmmakers; and L'Atalante, widely regarded as one of cinema's finest achievements, about newlyweds beginning their life together on a canal barge. These are the witty, visually adventurous works of a pivotal film artist.
À propos de Nice: Jean Vigo was twenty-five when he made this, his debut film, a silent cinematic poem that reveals, through a thrilling and ironic use of montage, the economic reality hidden behind the facade of the Mediterranean resort town of Nice. The first of Vigo's several collaborations with cinematographer Boris Kaufman (Dziga Vertov's brother and a future Oscar winner), À propos de Nice is both a scathing and invigorating look at 1930 French culture.
Zéro de conduite:So effervescent and charming that one can easily forget its importance in film history, Jean Vigo's enormously influential portrait of prankish boarding-school students is one of cinema's great acts of rebellion. Based on the director's own experiences as a youth, Zéro de conduite presents childhood as a time of unfettered imagination and brazen rule-flouting. It's a sweet-natured vision of sabotage made vivid by dynamic visual experiments - including the famous, blissful slow-motion pillow fight.
L'Atalante: In Jean Vigo's hands, an unassuming tale of conjugal love becomes an achingly romantic reverie of desire and hope. Jean (Jean Dasté), a barge captain, marries Juliette (Dita Parlo), an innocent country girl, and the two climb aboard Jean's boat, the L'Atalante - otherwise populated by an earthy first mate (Michel Simon) and a multitude of mangy cats - and embark on their new life together. Both a surprisingly erotic idyll and a clear-eyed meditation on love, L'Atalante, Vigo's only feature-length work, is a film like no other.
The Complete Jean Vigo (Criterion) (Bonus Disc) (1930)
Score for À propos de Nice by Marc Perrone, from 2001
Alternate edits from À propos de Nice, featuring footage cut by Vigo
Episode of the French television series Cinéastes de notre temps about Vigo, from 1964
Conversation from 1968 between filmmakers François Truffaut and Eric Rohmer on L'Atalante
Animated tribute to Vigo by filmmaker Michel Gondry
Les voyages de "L'Atalante," film restorer and historian Bernard Eisenschitz's 2001 documentary tracking the history of the film
Video interview from 2001 with director Otar Iosseliani on Vigo