Piazza Maggiore > 21:45


Jean Vigo
Introduced by

Nicolas Seydoux (Gaumont), Costantin Costa-Gavras (Cinémathèque française) e Margaret Bodde (The Film Foundation)

Piano accompaniment by

Stephen Horne e alla batteria di Frank Bockius

Serata sostenuta da Mare Termale Bolognese
(In caso di pioggia, la proiezione si sposterà al Cinema Arlecchino e sostituirà la proiezione serale)


Saturday 24/06/2017


Original version with subtitles


Film Notes

In February 1934, a sick Jean Vigo had finished editing L’Atalante during a constant exchange with his ‘band’, a group of close friends, who, together with the editor Chavance, kept the director informed when he could not be present in person. Vigo then left Paris to recover, while his friend Maurice Jaubert was completing the music. Vigo would never again find the strength to continue working on the editing as he desired. His collaborator, Albert Riéra, proposed to tighten the cutting, but producer J.L. Nounez refused that anyone should substitute the director. Only following the disastrous reception at a trade screening did he accept the proposal of co-producer and distributor GFFA to substitute Jaubert’s music with a ‘realistic song’ adapted from the Italian, Le Chaland qui passe; the title with which the film would be released that September, shortly before Vigo’s death. In the meantime, a print of the original L’Atalante has been sent to London, entrusted as it seems by Maurice Jaubert to Alberto Cavalcanti.
This is the print that has been used by the present restoration as a reference, for both picture and sound. We reintroduced the final aerial shot, taken by Kaufman instructed by Vigo, whose length was foreseen in the recorded score. A number of cuts (caused by film wear, censorship, voyeur projectionists?) have been restored with the help of some prints of Le Chaland qui passe, mutilated only after its the release at the Colisée Theatre, when GFFA heeded – or took advantage of – the protests of some spectators. The approach taken was to return to the original 1933-1934 film, without trying to adapt it to the viewing habits of 21st century spectators.
Bernard Eisenschitz

At the end of the 1940s, the Cinémathèque française acquired an ensemble of outtakes of L’Atalante. It was first inventoried by Panfilo Colaprete and Vigo’s first biographer, Paulo Emilio Sales Gomes, who already back then declared that an “ideal edit” of the film was impossible. Langlois himself gave it up: “I have seen some superb things that Vigo had cut, because what he was striving for was total simplicity. I have made a version, into which I inserted some scenes out of pure curiosity, to see what effect they would have. Magnificent, declared those who saw them. But it wasn’t what Vigo wanted”.
In his 1950 restoration, Langlois thus confined himself to inserting two shots in the most plausible points possible: the newlyweds walking around haystacks, and that (inspired by L’Âge d’or, as Colaprete noted) of Jean licking a block of ice.
Many viewers have been struck, and with good reason, by the beauty of these images outtakes when they were edited into various restored versions, such as Soviet filmmakers Otar Iosseliani and Andrej Tarkovskij after seeing the Langlois print, or British mythographer Marina Warner, after seeing the 1990 restoration. Nonetheless, others commented on “the overenthusiastic tendency of the 1990 team to include… every piece of material available” (Michael Temple, Vigo, Manchester University Press, Manchester-New York, 2005).
Now, it is finally possible for us to discover, together with the restoration of the film in its pristine form, precisely what material was shot and then discarded – material that both illustrates the story of the working process, and the nature of the director’s inspiration.

Bernard Eisenschitz

Cast and Credits

Sog.: Jean Guinée [Robert de Guichen]. Scen.: Jean Vigo, Albert Riéra. F.: Boris Kaufman. M.: Louis Chavance. Scgf.: Francis Jourdain. Mus.: Maurice Jaubert. Int.: Michel Simon (père Jules), Dita Parlo (Juliette), Jean Dasté (Jean), Gilles Margaritis (il venditore ambulante), Louis Lefebvre (il mozzo), Raphaël Diligent (Raspoutine), Maurice Gilles (impiegato della compagnia), Fanny Clar (la madre di Juliette). Prod.: J.L. Nounez, Gaumont-Franco-Film-Aubert. 35mm. D.: 89’. Bn.


Film Notes

In this film – by means of a city whose events are significant – we witness a certain world on trial. In fact, no sooner is the atmosphere of Nice and the kind of life one leads there (and elsewhere, alas!) evoked, does the film extend towards the generalisation of vulgar pleasures placed beneath the sign of the grotesque, of flesh and death; these are the final spasms of a society which has let itself go to the point of making you so sick that it will inspire you to become part of a revolutionary solution.
Jean Vigo, Towards a Social Cinema, June 14th, 1930

Did you actually enjoy A propos de Nice? When I think of it being screened in public every evening, I feel a certain unease. While working on it, I forgot that the film was supposed to be entertainment, hence some lengthy passages, some lingering, which you have noticed.
First and foremost, I wanted to provoke nausea. To make – what we look at with indifference, complacency and pleasure when life-size – unbearable to watch at least on screen. Then to bring in some relief with the images of workers and the athmosphere of the factory. / There you have it. / Help me to pursue my best, always. / Reading your words gives me courage. Thank you.
Letter from Jean Vigo to Jean Painlevé, October 7th, 1930

Bernard Eisenschitz

Cast and Credits

Scen., M.: Jean Vigo. F.: Boris Kaufman. Prod.: Jean Vigo, Boris Kaufman. DCP. D.: 25’. Bn.

Place de la Concorde

Director: William Kennedy-Laurie Dickson, British Mutoscope and Biograph Syndicate
Year: 1897
Country: Gran Bretagna