Zero for Conduct (1933)

aka Zero de conduite: Jeunes diables au college
Article 4862 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 7-4-2015
Directed by Jean Vigo
Featuring Jean Doste, Robert le Flon, Louis Lefebvre
Country: France
What it is: Surreal school rebellion

Several students stage a rebellion at their dictatorial boarding school.

I don’t know if I’m going to end up covering the whole oeuvre of Jean Vigo, but I’ve covered half of his output in the last week. He was the son of an anarchist who had a troubled childhood and suffered from ill health his whole life; he died at the age of 29 having made only four movies. His style was clearly ahead of his time, and his work was initially banned in France; it didn’t get much distribution until after WWII. This is a strange movie, full of surreal imagery that occasionally slips over into the realm of the fantastic (a disappearing ball and a drawing that comes to life are its most notable manifestations). The strange textures he created with water in the Jean Tarin film are here recreated with the use of pillow feathers near the end of the movie. I can’t quite evaluate it at this point; it’s one of those movies that may require several viewings to fully appreciate, but it is clearly innovative and proved quite influential.

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