Sunday, 3 November 2013

Zero de Conduit

ero de Conduit – Jean Vigo – The director of L’Atalante, in this earlier and shorter film, demonstrates the gleeful spark of anti-establishment anarchy that later inspired Lindsay Anderson’s If…(1968). A rebellion of boys in a stifling boarding school provides the drama of childhood’s revolution – a celebration of play and possibility over acceptance. From carrying their leader aloft on a makeshift throne to scampering over the rooftops, Vigo brilliantly portrays the adventure and idealism of resisting patterns of structure. It is a willingness to subvert, here encapsulated in the boys’ rebellion, which adds to Vigo’s sparkle of surrealist audacity. In L’Atalante we encounter Pere Jule (Michel Simon) in his cluttered cabin: a surrealist Wunderkammer that heaps memories and oddball treasures alongside a puppet show and his coveted jar – containing pickled hands. Then there is the visually oneiric spectacle of Juliette (Dita Parlo) in her ethereal wedding dress, seen by Jean (Jean Dasté) underwater. All of which is complimented by the latent eroticism, fondly fostered by any self-respecting surrealist. Meanwhile, in Zero de Conduit it is the confrontation of bourgeois stability and order straining the surrealist sling to Vigo’s back-pocket Beano catapult. There are some breath-taking sequences in slow motion – and an unexpected, if brief, moment of childish animation. The last shot of a silhouetted band of boys disappearing over a rooftop horizon masterfully summarizes the film’s spirit.  7/10 


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