7.5/10
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Zero for Conduct (1933)

Zéro de conduite: Jeunes diables au collège (original title)
Not Rated | | Short, Comedy, Drama | 21 June 1947 (USA)
In a repressive boarding school with rigid rules of behavior, four boys decide to rebel against the direction on a celebration day.

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Surveillant Huguet
Robert le Flon ...
Surveillant Pète-Sec
Du Verron ...
Surveillant-Général Bec-de-Gaz (as du Verron)
Delphin ...
Principal du Collège
Léon Larive ...
Professeur (as Larive)
Madame Émile ...
Mère Haricot (as Mme. Emile)
Louis de Gonzague ...
Préfet (as Louis de Gonzague-Frick)
Raphaël Diligent ...
Pompier (as Rafa Diligent)
Louis Lefebvre ...
Caussat
Gilbert Pruchon ...
Colin
Constantin Goldstein-Kehler ...
Bruel (as Coco Golstein)
Gérard de Bédarieux ...
Tabard
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Storyline

After the holidays, Caussat and Bruel are going back to the boarding school, where their life is sad, dull, as all prisoner's ones. But there is plot setting up for a revolt... Written by Yepok

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

school | boy | dormitory | revolt | flag | See All (36) »

Genres:

Short | Comedy | Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

21 June 1947 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Zero de Conduite  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (original cut)

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider. See more »

Goofs

When the students tie the teacher to the bed, the position of his hands and the bed covers changes between shots as the bed is raised. See more »

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User Reviews

 
this not quite short film another of Jean Vigo's precious works, but it goes without saying...
10 March 2007 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

...that in Jean Vigo's all-too short-lived career as a filmmaker he didn't make one unsuccessful movie, despite his difficulties. But seeing Zero For Conduct, which was no doubt a big influence (if only in the details of some scenes) for Truffaut's 400 Blows, I do feel a little sorry for it in a way. Watching it, I kept thinking 'is this Vigo's director's cut, or did they make him cut stuff out'? Because within the 41 minute time frame- which comes in over one minute of being a short film- things happen, but they almost happen too fast. Holes are sort of left in the plot, and only occasionally do they becomes a little bothersome (I wanted to see what happened, for example, when the kid told the short principal "go to hell" as it cuts right from that to the kids gearing up for their uprising for the next day). If this were the length of L'Atalante, it might even be just as great as that. It's flaws, if any, are probably also due to budget. It also doesn't help that the print was so scratched, and the subtitles so spotty, that some of the time I wasn't sure what's going on or if a cutaway was right.

This all aside, however, Zero For Conduct is a wonderful little song to the spirit of youth, and what it is to be at that age and see authority, practically any authority, as a form of fascism. In fact Vigo makes a point of making the title, Zero For Conduct, part of the repetitive punishment for the students that disobey just in the slightest. It a given until after a while it loses its meaning. We're given a small band of joyful miscreants, Caussat, Colin, Bruel, Tabbard, as they plot to stage a rebellion on the day of the alumni event at the private boys school they attend. Even though one of the professors is actually on the same level of rebellious spirit as them- and at one point does a handstand like one of the other kids and draws a cartoon to prove it- most of the teachers, and the principal with the Napoleon-complex played by the funny Delphin, kill their spirits completely. Vigo's world is almost too much fun though for their rebellion to be too violent or with too many tragedies and so forth, and the anarchy is that kind of childish chaos where it almost comes close to a pillow fight (in maybe my favorite sequence of the film, where the boys do a sort of test-run for their rebellion, laying to waste their sleeping quarters, caught in delirious, masterful slow-motion and sweet music by Maurice Jaubert).

If you can find it, and you're already a fan of L'Atalante, you should be in for a very pleasant, early-sound era surprise from Vigo and his great DP Boris Kaufman, with much of it featuring the perfectly goofy experiments with the form that were done in A Propos De Nice, but here with something more of a story. With the quality spotty and all- one of the films most in need of a restoration in fact- Vigo's style never seems too compromised at least, and the sense of pure, cinematic exuberance with what makes life grand and not so grand is up for grabs in a real short shot. We get the little notes of humor, however slight (like the boy doing a little trick with his fingers on the train), and the moments of the dark side (a moment when the principal, with a student at his desk, does some kind of creepy demon pose), and it ends with a cool French school song too. Like Bunuel's Simon of the Desert, I'm not sure if Vigo's film got a bum rap or if he had planned to make it even bigger and with more depth into who these kids are and what the school is like. But like that film as well, what remains contains splendors that can only come from unique minds in film-making. A-


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