Tag Archives: jean vigo

Link Dump: #62

This week’s kitty is one of many that rides aboard the title boat in Jean Vigo’s L’Atalante, reviewed here earlier this week. (Seriously, that movie has so many kitties. It’s awesome.) And now, a panoply of links, with hat tips to Feminist Frequency and DeusExCinema:

A handful of amusing search terms: first, “сейлормун обои,” which is Russian for “Sailormoon wallpapers.” And then, possibly related: “man shirtless in apron” and “man dreams of being a housewife and dress like one and dreams about it.” The latter especially is kind of poetic. Is he a man who dreamt he was a housewife… or a housewife who dreamt he was a man?

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Jean Vigo: Prankster and Poet

French director Jean Vigo didn’t give a shit about refinement. His meager filmography bubbles over with excess, messiness, and experimentation. They’re films that speak to a life in the shadow of his murdered anarchist father, a life spent getting his hands dirty with cinema before dying at age 29. Compromise and weakness are altogether absent from Vigo’s work; in their place are brutality, tenderness, and “too much.” Now, thanks to Criterion’s The Complete Jean Vigo, it’s possible to watch the saga of his whole career in a scant three hours.

Here’s what you’ll find: youthful energy, a prelapsarian affection for the human body, resentment of authority figures, and an explosive, bawdy, political sense of humor. Vigo was pissed off, but never sullen. His first short film, 1930’s À propos de Nice, initially looks like a travelogue surveying the titular French resort town, showcasing its hotels, beaches, and bathing beauties. But through rhythmic editing, trick photography, and ironic counterpoint, Vigo and his photographer comrade Boris Kaufman get at the grotesque reality of Nice—what he identified as “the last gasps of a society in its death throes.”

In one of the film’s typically crass jokes, the camera settles on a young woman sitting along the boulevard. Through a series of dissolves, we see her wearing furs, stylish dresses, a string of pearls, and then nothing (well, except a pair of heels). It’s a parody of fashion, of “glamour” as a concept, with frontal nudity as its punchline. As if to top himself, Vigo ends the short with a detour into slow-motion upskirt photography. Juxtaposing this vulgarity with coastal recreation, À propos de Nice lampoons the then-prevalent “city symphony.” (As such, it also anticipates Georges Franju’s disturbing, Paris-set short Blood of the Beasts a good two decades later.)

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