Friday, 10 December 2010

One of the best films ever? DVD Review.

Bss photo033
With the cut iced over for days now and Christmas fast approaching my thoughts turned to an old movie shot during the winter months on the canals of Paris over 70 years ago.It might make an unusual gift for someone this Xmas.So this time not a book but a DVD containing the film L'Atalante for review.

I will say straight away – If you don’t like world Cinema , French Films, Art House films, subtitled films, very old films  or films that do not have a strong story line then forget about this blog and look at another one instead !
However if you are interested in acquiring a copy of the film that came third in the Guardians list of best ever Art House & Drama films then read on.
For non film buffs you may just like the shots of peniche's working on the canals of Paris in the early 1930;s.

The story is a very loose one and concerns a French barge skipper and his new wife and the trials and tribulations of married life in the confines of a peniches cabin. Wife runs away – husband sets out to win her back from the streets of depression era Paris and the characters she has met in her flight.
L'Atalante was shot in the Bassin de la Villette and the Canal de St Martin and the street scenes – in and around Paris. The result  is a film of tremendous beauty and poetry . It’s a Romantic film and so for me any way the story is not important. It is above all an artistic film painted with a camera rather than a brush.
The movie Is an artistic collaboration between the director Vigo and the cinephotographer who was a renowned expert and who went on to shoot ‘On the Waterfront’ with Marlon Brando. The film is full of eccentric characters performing in ordinary working class locations and is beautiful in its simplicity.
I guess you will either love it or be distinctly underwhelmed and wonder what all the fuss is about.
Many others have loved this film over the years and it has regularly featured in Top 100 movie lists e.g it came 6th in ‘Sight & Sounds’ 1992 Greatest films of all time poll.
The film was made in 1934 by Jean Vigo who only ever made 4 films and died aged just 29 just as this his greatest film was released.
For those interested, greater details of his life and work can be found at or try and search for jean vigo.
The ‘Artificial Eye’ DVD shown in the picture contains documentaries, biographies and the 3 other films that he made. I have had my copy for some time and so I was amazed at the price being asked for it now. However it is available cheaply as a video or the DVD can be rented.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

These are now on my DVD rental list...