A PROPOS DE NICE (1930)
Article 5146 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Jean Vigo
What it is: Avant-garde documentary
A fractured day in the life of the resort city of Nice is portrayed.
Jean Vigo was an openly political avant-garde filmmaker who was hoping to inspire revolution with his work. Whatever his intentions, one thing he was clearly able to do was to imbue seemingly ordinary scenes with a kinetic, visual rhythm that makes them fascinating, and I found it hard to tear myself away from this twenty-five minute barrage of bizarre images. Though it can’t really be described as fully genre, it does manage to lapse into scenes of fantasy at times, such as a scene where a woman sitting cross-legged in a chair appears in various items of clothing until we reach a shot where she is naked. Sexual imagery abounds, some of it subtle, some of it less so. It’s quite surrealistic at times, and there are moments where the movement of people is made to look like it’s mechanical, or even similar to the flow of blood through the veins. Part of the action takes place during a carnival with people wearing grotesque costumes, and it’s hard to miss a political statement of some sort where we see a person peering out from one of the costumes in a way that makes him look like he is imprisoned in jail. Jean Vigo directed only a tiny handful of films, and this is the third of the four he made that I’ve seen. So far, this is perhaps my favorite of the bunch.