The Seen and Unseen: The New Wave Films of French Director Jean Vigo
Why We Recommend it
This retrospective showcases Jean Vigo’s few but exciting films which became touchstones for the French New Wave.
Even though French filmmaker Jean Vigo (1905 – 1934) left an oeuvre of only four films, his legacy to French cinema—a search for realism and a poetic eye—is lasting.
His career began with À propos de Nice (“about Nice,” 1930), a subversive silent film inspired by Soviet newsreels that looked beyond the palms and the Promenade des Anglais to reveal the labour, poverty and resilience of the resort town of Nice.
His second film, Jean Taris, Swimming Champion (1931), is a short documentary about French swimmer Jean Taris, was followed by the featurette Zéro de Conduite (“Zero for Conduct,” 1933), a spirited and critical tale of boys’ rebellion in a repressive boarding school.
The film alarmed censors but inspired filmmaker François Truffaut, who paid homage to Zero for Conduct in his iconic 1959 debut The 400 Blows, which is one of the defining films of the French New Wave.
Vigo’s last work, L’Atalante (1934) was his only full-length feature film. It tells the simple story of a newly married couple splitting up and reuniting, and is notable for the way it effortlessly merges rough, naturalistic film making with shimmering, dreamlike sequences and effects.
“The Seen and Unseen” will screen all of Vigo’s digitally restored works.