Arlecchino Cinema > 18:15


Jean Vigo
Introduced by

Bernard Eisenschitz, storico e ricercatore


Sunday 25/06/2017


Original version with subtitles


Film Notes

The reference print on which the 2017 restoration is based belongs to the Cineteca Italiana di Milano; it was taken from the original negative dated 1933, and given by Henri Langlois to Luigi Comencini in 1947. It is longer than the camera negative, which was reedited and corresponds to the 1945 release of the film and other prints known so far. As it turns out, the two edits were done in the same year, but ‘Milan’s’ is the earlier one.
Two different versions of a film existing at the same time was not exceptional. Why is it so, in the present case? One reason would be that the longer one exceeded the standard length of a supporting short feature (1200 m), as set by the contract between producer Nounez and GFFA. Or perhaps, after the initial disappointing audience reactions, Vigo, in an attempt to balance action and style, “opted for the second solution, reserving the right to add, if necessary, some explanatory intertitles” (Paulo Emilio Sales Gomes). Also, in the print matching the negative, some ‘censorable’ scenes were either shortened or cut: a silhouette of Surveillant Pète-Sec, injecting himself before going to sleep (a shot cut in the known version), the chemistry professor spitting into a handkerchief (in the known version only the sound is heard), his hand caressing Tabard’s (the shot was shortened), etc.
Finally one episode, that of the sleepwalker, was displaced and is now re-integrated into the night-time context of the dormitory and linked to other short scenes: preparations for the revolt; punishing an ‘informant’; the sleepwalker; Tabard and Bruel tenderly saying good night to each other, spied upon by Surveillant-Général Bec-de-Gaz.

Bernard Eisenschitz

Cast and Credits

Scen., M.: Jean Vigo. F.: Boris Kaufman. Scgf.: Jean Vigo, Henri Storck, Boris Kaufman. Mus.: Maurice Jaubert. Int.: Jean Dasté (sorvegliante Huguet), Robert Le Flon (sorvegliante Pète-Sec), du Verron (sorvegliante generale Bec-de-Gaz), Delphin (rettore del collegio), Louis Lefebvre (Caussat), Gilbert Pruchon (Colin), Coco Goldstein (Bruel), Gérard de Bédarieux (Tabard), Léon Larive (il professore di chimica). Prod.: J.L. Nounez per Argui-Films, Gaumont-Franco-Film-Aubert. DCP. D.: 44’. Bn.


Film Notes

First of all, RESPECT, because in mid-July I will become a father. I don’t yet know whether to a son or a daughter, but I shall let you know as soon as I do.

Secondly, have you seen La Natation par Jean Taris at Les Miracles?

Filmed above and below water. The creature and its environment are beautiful, but… Jean Vigo is not Jean Painlevé. And that’s that!

Letter from Jean Vigo to Jean Painlevé, Nice, May 28th, 1931

This film on swimming champion Jean Taris, commissioned from Vigo by Germaine Dulac and shot in the early months of 1931, is often considered, within the context of his work, a minor film; it is sometimes ignored. Instead, it has the name ‘Vigo’ clearly printed on it, even if the director himself only loved the sequences shot underwater. He would recall them when shooting L’Atalante. But there’s more: the ‘swimming in a room’ scene is unusual and funny, as are Taris’s tricks and his winks directed towards the viewer, when, completely dressed, he walks on water. It was Vigo’s first experience working in sound, at a time when mixing did not exist. The filmmaker was able to create a counterpoint between the human voice and the sound of water in movement.

Luce Vigo, Jean Vigo, une vie engagée dans le cinéma, Cahiers du cinéma-CNDP, Paris 2002

Bernard Eisenschitz

Cast and Credits

T. alt.: Taris; Taris, roi de l’eau. Sog., M.: Jean Vigo. F.: G. Lafont, Lucas. Prod.: Le Journal vivant, GFFA. DCP. D.: 9’. Bn.