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PostPosted: Sun Mar 27, 2005 1:22 pm 
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The Complete Jean Vigo

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Even among cinema’s greatest legends, Jean Vigo stands alone. The son of a notorious anarchist, Vigo had a brief but brilliant career making poetic, lightly surrealist films before his life was cut tragically short by tuberculosis at age twenty-nine. Like the daring early works of his contemporaries Jean Cocteau and Luis Buñuel, Vigo’s films refused to play by the rules. This set includes all of Vigo’s titles: À propos de Nice, an absurdist, rhythmic slice of life from the bustling coastal city of the title; Taris, an inventive short portrait of a swimming champion; Zéro de conduite, a radical, delightful tale of boarding-school rebellion that has influenced countless filmmakers; and, of course, L’Atalante, widely regarded as one of cinema’s finest achievements, about newlyweds beginning their life together on a canal barge. These are the endlessly witty, visually adventurous works of a pivotal film artist.

DISC FEATURES

• New high-definition digital restorations of all four of Jean Vigo's films, with uncompressed monaural soundtracks on the Blu-ray edition
• Audio commentaries featuring Michael Temple, author of Jean Vigo
• Score for À propos de Nice by Marc Perrone, from 2001
• Alternate edits from À propos de Nice, featuring footage cut by Vigo
• Episode of the French television series Cinéastes de notre temps about Vigo, from 1964
• Conversation from 1968 between filmmakers François Truffaut and Eric Rohmer on L'Atalante
• Animated tribute to Vigo by filmmaker Michel Gondry
Les voyages de "L'Atalante," film restorer and historian Bernard Eisenschitz's 2001 documentary tracking the history of the film
• Video interview from 2001 with director Otar Iosseliani on Vigo
• New and improved English subtitle translations
• PLUS: A booklet featuring new essays by critics Michael Almereyda, Robert Polito, B. Kite, and Luc Sante

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 27, 2005 3:46 pm 
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Michael wrote:
What was the original title for L' Atalante when it was released in 1934 shortly after Vigo's death? Was it L' Atalante or Le Chaland Qui Passe? Or was the title changed after the film was butchered and released the second time?

According to the P.E. Salles Gomes biography of Vigo, L'Atalante was previewed one morning in April 1934 for studio representatives, cinema owners, distributors and critics. Vigo had already agreed to one significant change in the version shown at that screening: substantial cuts in the scenes of Pere Jules looking for Juliette. Nevertheless, the cinema owners and distributors disliked the film. A few reviews, one good but others extremely harsh, appeared following the screening.
This, combined with Vigo's failing health meant that the studio could do whatever they wanted with the film. They cut it to bits, inserted a song that was a popular hit at that time ("Le Chaland qui Passe") and changed the title accordingly. It began its first run in September '34 in that form, and was still a commercial failure. Vigo's death fueled the argument over what had been done to L'Atalante and there was increased interest in seeing the controversial filmmaker's final work as he had intended it. Thus the film was reconstituted for its second run (which was its Paris premiere) as L'Atalante, and was also shown in England, and elsewhere.
In the Filmmakers of our Times episode on Jean Vigo there's a very moving (to me) part in one of the interviews when one of the people who worked on L'Atalante tells of visiting Vigo in the hospital after seeing Le Chaland and felt the right thing to do was to tell him what had been done to their film. Vigo, who knew he was dying by then, said (paraphrasing) "I suppose it was stupid of me to have given so much of myself for this film." His tireless work on L'Atalante had hastened his death. It was also the work of someone in great pain, who knew it would probably be his last chance to complete a film. This makes all the cuts and changes before its public premiere that much more tragic, but to me it also makes being able to see it today in something like Vigo's preferred form a great triumph.


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 27, 2005 5:16 pm 
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has anyone seen the 90 minute documentary included on aritifical Eye's vigo collection?

is it good?


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 27, 2005 5:34 pm 
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Yeah, that's the Filmmakers of Our Times episode I referred to in my post. It consists of interview footage and clips from the films and is well worth seeing. That Jean Vigo release is probably my most prized R2 DVD.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 28, 2005 7:32 am 
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Vigo's film was named two different French titles and I was puzzled.
Many, many thanks to Gregory for explaining this. The information is fascinating enough for me to search for the Gomes book. L' Atalante is truly among the most luminous, rare gems.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 28, 2005 3:01 pm 
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My pleasure. The book was written almost 50 years ago and sadly remains one of the only studies of Vigo available in English. (I can read French when I'm determined but not very rapidly!) It can be found cheaply at sites like Half.com.
Have you seen any of the short films, Micheal? They're playful and stunning. In some ways the earlier films that Vigo devised reveal his creative process in an entirely different way than L'Atalante, which was the result of drastically reworking a story given to him that he didn't think was very good in its original form.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 28, 2005 4:12 pm 
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The only short film I saw was Zero de Conduite. Utterly beautiful and surprising.

When the boys rip apart their pillows and the feathers fly everywhere, when the boys form to march (done in an almost dreamy style)..this entire sequence is one of the greatest moments of all cinema. I cry every time I watch it..what a liberating feeling!

Plus I'm immeasurably impressed with how Vigo handles his characters.. so richly human without reducing them to fit in categories. I would love to see anyone's thesis on Jules' sexuality in L' Atalante.


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 22, 2006 11:46 pm 
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If I'm reading this correctly, Michel Gondry says he designed the DVD cover for L'Atalante


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 23, 2006 12:13 am 
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Michael - one of the most beautiful "touches" in Zero is also the gay kid who becomes a kind of heroic leader to the anarchic revolt of the schoolboys.

All I can add about l'Atalante is simply if I were ever stupid enough to nominate a top fifty, or even twenty of all time, l'Atalante is in it.

Dont own the AE but do have the identical Gaumont French coffret (without English subs.) I assume the AE also includes the two shorts, the quite brilliant a Propos de Nice (effectively co-directed by Photographer Boris Kaufmann who clearly adored Vigo) and the absolutely wonderful little piece la Natation de Jean Taris on the Olympic Swimmer which is a small marvel of semi-surrealism disguised as documentary. And as Greg points out the Cineastes de Notre Temp episode is terrific and extremely moving.

Much has been written about Simon's Jules - he seems virtually pansexual to me. And those cats!!!. Don't you also find Jean Daste unbelievably sexy? The scene of Daste and Dita Parlo separated and dreaming of the other having orgasm is the most erotic moment in cinema!

I am mad about Vigo - such a tragic early death, despite which he must rank at the very top of French cinema with Renoir and Gremillon.


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 23, 2006 8:46 am 
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=========================================================
(Just a little caulking to keep the drippings oozing offa the above post from hitting Max.)

Almost skeeving the interpretive nature of art now.

Dave -- do you have a portable All-Male Porno Kinema Grindhouse that you haul around to view every...?.. o forget it.

The A Eye discs are absolutely fantastic, perhaps the greatest single release devoted to a single filmmaker, bar none. And as I've said before seeing the full episode of the CINEASTE NOTRE TEMPS devoted to Vigo illustrates, in one's inability to choose material as "inferior" to be edited out, the crime the CC commits when they chop these brilliant episodes up into excerpts for their discs.

The story of LATALANTE as recounted by greg above is basically accurate from what I've heard.. as the distributors/cine-owners who saw the film thought it was quite raunchy and that the photography was off-puttingly gloomy. They simply thought it was bizarre... the "gloomy" part always kills me as no film ever-- and I mean ever-- made me laugh as hard as LATALANTE. I had a sore throat for days afterwards.

So much begins, and ends, with LATALANTE. This is a film which is completely inimitable (less so, though similar, to ZERO, which, being less structured, linear, and polished, to me resembles the cut-up pastiche's, to some degree anyhow, of avant garde's like Epstein (think GLACE A TROIS FACES) or even Kirsanoff, as well as the surrealists). Inimitable like all the best pieces of art are-- inimitable: how could you possibly break LATALANTE into a style? A repeatable style? Impossible. We rarely if ever discuss innovations resident in the film-- i e the uniqueness lies not in some wild new use of the moving camera, or beautifully arranged static shots of painterly import.

The film is inspirational.. inspires one to try and create a uniquely personal masterpiece of one's own. You watch it, and if you're wise-- the kind of wisdom that would be equally well-advised if one were similarly looking to mine the work of other completely inimitable masters like Sturges or the Lubitsch of TROUBLE IN PARADISE-- if youre wise you know not to attempt to cop cinematic riffs from it. You hope to follow your own nose and do what these men did-- create a completely unique piece of work, entirely of one's own original pedigree. But if one doesn't have an atomic sized interior life, have jokes that one is always telling one's self, a charismatic commmentary that one is always feeding one's own head with, an ongoing conversation with one's self which warps & recolors the data that one takes in, causing all that comes back out to bear that uniquely individual stamp-- if the filmmaker is not if this pedigree, and yet tries to write in bold self-referential strokes via the example of Vigo or others similarly brilliant... that filmmaker is going make himself look like the biggest asshole on the face of the earth. (Unless of course the planet is filled with nothing but similarly self-appointed "divo's"... christalmighty... then of course one blends right in as he flops while swishing grandly through hotel lobbies, chin up, hair nicely teased, proclaiming Bushlike, that his wisdom will become manifest in 50 to 100 yrs as the world catches up with your wisdom... just like jean Vigo.).

Yeah right. But for those rare gems out there, it also helps to have a real rare gem of a producer like Vigo had, Lou Nounez, men with old fashioned, gallant, selfless belief and dedication to genuine, rarest art.. who place a higher premium on midwiving this kind of work than making several million dollars over the course of 24 months. And do so without mummering paranoia of interference with the artist, constantly poking his nose into his work, but trusting & giving the man room to breath and create something dazzling. As L.N. did with Vigo. Erich Pommer in his glory days running from Decla-to-the UFA of the early to mid-20's was another such producer. Nebenzal, in moments.

Everyone appreciates an approving audience, and it's a shame that Vigo wiped himself out on this film, which, as far as he knew, defeated his physical frame without any public reward. The guy was tubercular, and he obliterated himself working in the freezing-- and from all accounts it was one of the coldest winters Paris had seen inna long time-- depths of midwinter, shooting the vast chunk on location, and outdoors... and on the water.


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 23, 2006 9:08 pm 
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I had been thinking how l'Atalante picks up the almost sub-generic "barge picture" mode (Renoir's La Fille de l'Eau, Grem's Maldone, and undoubtedly others) but basically ends it with a trajectory into majestic, lyrical poetry.

Afetr 1934 French movies continued with the imagery of the River and the canals and the guinguette - the riverside bistrot - emblems of hope and escape from the drudgery of work and the city, and aspirations to true "egalite" - the great movies in this genre titles like Renoir's Partie de Campagne, and Duvivier's la Belle Equipe. Fasincatingly these two - the greatest of them- are driven by alternately melancholy or pessimistic screenplays and are clearly leadins to the optique of poetic realism.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 06, 2006 10:18 am 
davidhare wrote:
I am mad about Vigo - such a tragic early death, despite which he must rank at the very top of French cinema with Renoir and Gremillon.

and with Autant-Lara, Becker and the French films of Ophüls.

Vigo was indeed a master. I'm obsessed with "L'Atalante", one of the most beautiful and tender of all films. "Zéro de conduite" is also very fascinating. Makes a great double feature with Lindsay Anderson's "If...."

I'm very happy with my Artificial Eye Vigo collection. Decent transfers of magnificent films.


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 Post subject: Jean Vigo
PostPosted: Tue Nov 28, 2006 12:18 am 
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The Complete Jean Vigo

Image Image

Even among cinema’s greatest legends, Jean Vigo stands alone. The son of a notorious anarchist, Vigo had a brief but brilliant career making poetic, lightly surrealist films before his life was cut tragically short by tuberculosis at age twenty-nine. Like the daring early works of his contemporaries Jean Cocteau and Luis Buñuel, Vigo’s films refused to play by the rules. This set includes all of Vigo’s titles: À propos de Nice, an absurdist, rhythmic slice of life from the bustling coastal city of the title; Taris, an inventive short portrait of a swimming champion; Zéro de conduite, a radical, delightful tale of boarding-school rebellion that has influenced countless filmmakers; and, of course, L’Atalante, widely regarded as one of cinema’s finest achievements, about newlyweds beginning their life together on a canal barge. These are the endlessly witty, visually adventurous works of a pivotal film artist.

DISC FEATURES

- New high-definition digital restorations of all of Jean Vigo’s films: À propos de Nice, Taris, Zéro de conduite, and L’Atalante (with uncompressed monaural soundtracks on the Blu-ray edition)
- Audio commentaries featuring Michael Temple, author of Jean Vigo
- Alternate shots from À propos de Nice, featuring footage Vigo cut from the film
- Animated tribute to Vigo by filmmaker Michel Gondry
- Ninety-minute 1964 episode of the French television series Cinéastes de notre temps on Vigo, directed by Jacques Rozier
- Conversation from 1968 between filmmakers François Truffaut and Eric Rohmer on L’Atalante
- Les voyages de “L’Atalante,” Bernard Eisenschitz’s 2001 documentary tracking the history of the film
- Video interview from 2007 with director Otar Iosseliani on Vigo
- New and improved English subtitle translations
- PLUS: A booklet featuring essays by film writers Michael Almereyda, Robert Polito, B. Kite, and Luc Sante

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 28, 2006 12:26 am 
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Tribe wrote:
has anyone seen the screenings for A propos de Nice and Zero de conduite yet? Please report.

It sort of seems like a done deal that Criterion will be issuing these...aside from reputation, I'm not familiar with either one of these. Does it make sense that they'd appear in the same Criterion release?

EDIT: Not sure about the status of L'Atalante as a Criterion property...any word on any Janus logos at its screening?

L'Atalante was released anyway by New Yorker in R1.

A Propos de Nice is wonderful, effectively co-directed by cameraman Boris Kaufmann but clearly in one mind with Vigo. It neither wholly relates directly to the avant garde tradition or the school of social consicousness that some ascribe to it. Both formally and subjectively it's a unique piece.

La Natation d e Jean Taris is a brilliant little short which revels in camera tricks (backwards shots, slow motion etc) to weave a kind of lyric poem around the figure of the French Olympic swimmer. I think they are both essentials, even given Vigo's tragically limited output.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 28, 2006 12:32 am 
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Just grab the AEye COMPLETE Vigo... it can't be beat, and knowing CC they'll probably butcher the sublime episode of CINEASTE NOTRE TEMPS that's on that gorgeous set.

NICE & ZERO are as good as it gets-- it's that simple!!


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 28, 2006 1:01 am 
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Tribe wrote:
Does it make sense that they'd appear in the same Criterion release?

Each is under an hour in length. I think they'd have to be released together or Criterion would have to do a Night and Fog with each - special low price, single title releases. HVE released Zero de conduite years ago on VHS, but no Criterion DVD followed, even though there is no shortage of supplementary material to include on any Vigo release.

Criterion may just be at a loss on how to release Vigo's other films without the "jewel in the crown" that is L'Atalante. New Yorker won't be giving up L'Atalante any time soon. I believe they own the US distribution rights to the restored version (that is to say, they didn't license them).


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 28, 2006 1:05 am 
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Yes, the AE Vigo set is one of those truely ESSENTIAL DVDs. However, if CC can bring some cool extras and perhaps a good commentary to the shorts, I'd jump at the chance to double-dip. Zero is sublime!

Matt wrote:
Criterion may just be at a loss on how to release Vigo's other films without the "jewel in the crown" that is L'Atalante.

I think a set of the 3 shorts without L'Atalante would easily stand on its own, especially since so much attention is usually given to the feature-length film. Criterion shouldn't hesitate.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 28, 2006 1:39 am 
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And add to it the Schreck-aforementioned Cineastes episode.

With a commentary track by Altman and Peer Raben......


Christ started drinking early...


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 28, 2006 1:48 am 
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Laughing my fucking ass off. Lord I almost fuckin pissed some.

Quote:
Christ started drinking early...

The greatest purposeful nonsequitor of the year in my book.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 28, 2006 2:22 am 
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Not a nonsequitur if I keep posting kiddo! WHOOHOO!!

Im waiting for the Lily Tomlin commentary track for Santantango. With overlapping vocalizations from Meryl "Sweet Voice" Streep.

LOVE Lily! And she ALWAYS complains about interlaced transfers!


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 28, 2006 5:39 am 

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Would that be the seasonal Santa-'n'-Tango?


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 28, 2006 2:35 pm 
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I never do this, but: This thread should not be here. Everything in it could have gone in either "Random Speculation," the thread on Vigo in "Old Films" forum, or in one of the threads for gibberish. As it is now, it got my hopes up for actual news of something.


Last edited by Gregory on Tue Nov 28, 2006 2:38 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 28, 2006 2:37 pm 
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No, Zero for Conduct is listed in the non-speculative thread and there is a new print showing at the link I posted...


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 28, 2006 2:42 pm 
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We already knew about Zero for Conduct being part of the Janus 50th Anniversary, so it's really not news. New Janus prints usually get added to the Forthcoming Criterion List, and then don't get their own thread until there are actual developments on the DVD front. And A Propos de Nice and Atalante were random speculation, right?


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 28, 2006 2:45 pm 
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Gregory wrote:
And A Propos de Nice and Atalante were random speculation, right?

That is right...the point of the thread was if anyone had seen the new print and to solicit commentary.


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