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Sunday, July 30, 2017

L'Atalante (1934)

After their wedding, a young barge captain (Jean Dast) and his new bride (Dita Parlo) live on his barge along with his first mate (Michel Simon) and cabin boy (Louis Lefebvre). But she soon tires of life on the river and dreams of Paris. The only full length feature film by Jean Vigo (ZERO FOR CONDUCT) is a one of a kind treat. Though Vigo died at the age of 29 the year L'ATALANTE was released, he is often credited with establishing poetic realism in the 1930s and a major influence on the French "new wave" of the 1950s and 60s. Vigo puts aside plot in favor of a dream like romance (though hardly sentimental) where the lovers connect, disengage and connect again while their "fairy godmother" turns out to be the cat loving tattooed reprobate (and scene stealing) Michel Simon who makes everything right again. The film feels impulsive and impromptu rather than planned out and still fresh today. It appears frequently on greatest films lists and justifiably so.  

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