Jean Vigo



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If English is your first language and you could translate my old Italian text, please contact me. Jean Vigo era figlio dell'anarchico Almereyda, arrestato durante la Prima Guerra Mondiale per presunte connivenze col nemico e poi soppresso in carcere (ufficialmente suicida), visse un'infanzia drammatica sotto il profilo psicologico (a dodici anni aveva perso il padre ed era stato separato dalla madre per essere affidato a un collegio in cui visse per sei anni in un clima di terrore) e sotto quello fisico (di salute cagionevole fin dalla nascita, trascorse un periodo in sanatorio). Dopo il liceo e l'università Vigo si trasferì a Nizza, in cerca di clima salubre, dove si sposò e entrò nel mondo del cinema.

À pròpos de Nice (1930) è un breve documentario satirico sui borghesi di Nizza, ritratti a loro insaputa in pose oziose; nato sulla scia degli esperimenti di Reitimann e Vertov, il film ha qualche sequenza surreale (la donna nuda in poltrona), ma è soprattutto un quadro sarcastico della borghesia.

In pochi mesi divenne un personaggio nell'ambiente cinematografico, e si trasferì a Parigi.

Zero de Conduite (1933) è un breve film in gran parte autobiografico, che al tempo suscitò scandalo e fu proibito per ben dodici anni.

In collegio si fronteggiano i bambini e gli insegnanti; questi ultimi sono mostri e tiranni, mentre i primi tentano di conquistarsi la libertà con la fantasia: prima con un sabba notturno al ritmo di cuscini sventrati, poi con un'insurrezione in stile corsaro contro le autorità che partecipano a una cerimonia.

Il microcosmo del collegio mette di fronte il popolo (i bambini) e lo Stato (gli insegnanti); la nostalgia con cui il regista rivive il clima di solidarietà, spinta fino alla complicità e all'omertà, ingenua ma sincera, fra i collegiali, e la caricatura con cui tratteggia gli adulti mettono in luce il carattere eversivo e libertario della sua ideologia. Il film non era un pamphlet contro l'autoritarismo; rappresentava con (poco) realismo e (molta) poesia i suoi ricordi d'infanzia.

A teenager is traveling in a train compartment where an adult is fast asleep. A schoolmate enters the compartment and the two boys begin to play silly games, and smoke cigars. They declare the adult dead because he didn't wake up. They are coming back from vacation like many other kids corralled at the train station by the boarding school's staff. Also arriving is the young teacher Huguet, whose smile sharply contrasts with the austere attitude of the staff. In the morning the children don't want to wake up until a school inspector walks through the dormitory: then they all stand up on their beds. Three children are plotting a rebellion. Huguet is a sympathetic teacher who likes to play with the children and even imitates Chaplin in the schoolyard. Back in the classroom, he stands on his head on the desk and draws a picture in that position. There is chaos in the classroom. Another teacher brings order back. The principal of the boarding school is a bearded dwarf, who inspects the boys in the schoolyard. They all march like soldiers down a sidewalk as a teacher takes them into town. Meanwhile, in the office of the principal the big event of the commemoration day is being planned. The dwarf places his hat under a glass dome that he can barely reach and then stares up at himself in a mirror placed high on the wall. He is worried about discipline and also about Huguet. In fact, the schoolboys have left their leader and started following Huguet in the streets. As he starts following a cute girl, they follow him following her, and at some point everybody starts running. One of the boy is the son of the fat chef, who is told to cook beans every day. This causes a rebellion in the cafeteria, a giant food fight, with the boy being humiliated that the cause is his mother's food. Two of the conspirators decide to take this boy into the conspiracy. They examine on a map the hiding place that one of them discovered. One of the boys is disrespectful to a fat teacher in a classroom with a skeleton. The principal and three teachers interrupt Huguet's class to publicly expose this boy. They will forgive the boy if he apolocizes to the teacher in front of the class, but the boy instead insults them. It is the eve of Commemoration Day. At night the children in the dorm start their revolution. It begins with a general pillow fight, shown in slow motion in a shower of feathers. They carry to the door one of the teachers sleeping in his bed and leave the bed in the upright position mimicking the crucifixion. Then the four barricade in the attic. Downstairs the principal inaugurates the commemoration. The children start throwing objects at the authorities. The four leaders of the rebellion climb the roof to hoist their pirate flag.

Il mediocre melodramma realista Atalante (1934), fotografato da Boris Kaufman, ebbe vita altrettanto difficile. Narrava l'idilio fra un barcaiolo e una contadina su una chiatta che naviga i canali francesi; ma su un tema tanto esile la fantasia traboccante di Vigo ricamò scene di romantico lirismo (la disperazione dello sposo abbandonato), di feroce realismo (il tentativo di linciaggio), di pittoresco surrealismo (la collezione di cianfrusaglie del vecchio eccentrico che vive a bordo della chiatta). Il film esalta la vita libera e l'emarginazione, mentre dileggia la metropoli e la sua gabbia capitalista. La chiatta è simbolo di una scelta e di una condanna, di un trionfo e di un fallimento, al tempo stesso: Vigo che non è un ideologo né un rivoluzionario si dibatte in una crisi di possibilità, che potrebbe risolversi unicamente con una istantanea miracolosa fine delle istituzioni; proprio questo sogno è il movente dei suoi due film.

Jean, the captain of a barge named "Atalante", and Juliette, who has never been outside the village, just got married and are walking through the village towards the river, followed by all the people who attended the wedding. They board the barge, manned by the farcical couple of the old Jules and a cabin boy, and merrily take off for their honeymoon. She slowly begins to realize that this will be her home and her daily life, and can't wait to arrive at a city. Her presence creates tension on the boat: Jules is annoyed that Jean now spends so much time kissing and arguing with the girl, but at the same time Jules tries to impress the girl with the relics of his exotic trips and this causes Jean to get jealous. When they at last reach Paris, she can't wait to see the city but Jean cannot leave the barge because Jules has taken off to see a clairvoyant. He returns drunk, carrying a souvenir that he stole from a bar. Jean and Juliette can finally go out and spend the evening at a dancehall where they are entetained by a magician, comedian and peddler who also dances with Juliette while a jealous Jean watches annoyed. The couple returns to the barge in a bad mood. Jean leaves Juliette alone on the boat and goes out with Jules and the boy. The comedian stops by the boat and invites Juliette to run off with him to Paris. Jean comes back just in time to hear him and kicks him away, but Juliette has been intrigued. She keeps hearing the nomad's enticing words. She waits for he right moment and then she sneaks out. While she roams the streets of Paris, Jean orders Jules to turn on the engine. Jules protests that they should go and look for the woman or at least wait for her, but Jean is unforgiving and decides to abandon his wife. She returns to the pier when the barge has already left. She walks to the train station to buy a ticket but someone steals her purse. Penniless, she gets the first job she can find. Realizing what he has done, Jean is now speechless and desperate, and old Jules is the only friend who stands by him. Juliette, who now lives in a small apartment, is still searching every canal for the barge. When Jean's mental insanity worsens, Jules decides to return to Paris and search for Juliette. He finds her in a place where she is listening to the sailor's song, and brings her back to an ecstatic Jean.

Morì lo stesso anno in cui venne presentato L'Atalante, a soli ventinove anni.


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