14 May 2012 2:57 AM, PDT | The Guardian - Film News | See recent The Guardian - Film News news »

(Jean Vigo, 1930-34, PG, Artificial Eye)

One of France's most revered film-makers, his father an anarchist murdered in jail during the first world war, Vigo died of leukaemia in 1934 at the age of 29. He left behind an oddly attractive short featuring the French swimming champion Jean Taris and three masterpieces: the silent, satirical portrait of life on the Côte d'Azur À propos de Nice (1930); Zéro de conduite (1933), a surreal comedy about a revolt in a horrendous boarding school; and above all L'Atalante (1934), which he didn't live to see in its complete version.

L'Atalante is a beguiling, truthful love story about the ups and downs of the marriage between a young man and the country girl (the beautiful Dita Parlo) he brings to live with him on the barge he plies on the Seine with a cranky old seafarer (the great Michel Simon). Inventive, poetic, funny and deeply moving, it's magnificently »

- Philip French

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