I first heard of Vigo from a documentary made by Tarkovsky when he was shooting Nostalghia in Italy. He speaks about a few directors that had a certain degree of influence on him listing Vigo alongside Dovzhenko, Paradjanov or Fellini. Being rather curious as to what could a youth who made only three movies in his life be so important that a great director should revere him I tried to find something to see by Vigo. And I found this little giant gem, an essay documentary that shows us the real life of Nice.
Unlike other documentaries this is not made with that boring advertising tone that wants to make you visit the place. It is faithful to its subject and tries to depict it as accurately as possible. There are obvious critics directed towards the society, especially the rich in Vigo's time. The movie starts with an image showing gamblers, later we see a gentleman mentally undressing a girl, the luxury and satisfaction of the people are not shown in bright colors. I think that the director had to know at least a little about Freud, the camera angles are downright pornographic at times, the successive presentation of a group of dancing girls and impressive erect towers gave me quite a clear impression about what I should think.
And indeed, the most distinctive feature of the film lies in the camera angles. Rich and inventive, dazzling and sometimes almost impossible. From mimicking the curves of an arcade to the creation of patterns with the use of editing the cinematography is simply great. I was impressed by the eye of the poet that could capture all this. The editing is a lesson for anyone who wants to see the value of great cinema. It is used either satirically in order to make a mockery of the establishment, there are some really funny shots in the presentation of the carnival, or it is used poetically to create patterns of movement by presenting a shot of waves breaking at the shore followed by trees blowing in the wind and (almost with a touch of the grotesque) an old woman blowing her nose. There is also an image of a man literally burning in the sun followed by some crocodiles doing the same thing. Obvious yes, since that guy was probably a rich bourgeois.
Very polemical, very bright, a feast for the eyes, deeply enjoyable even if it has no sound.
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