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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)
7.5
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Ratings: 7.5/10 from 4,851 users  
Reviews: 24 user | 41 critic

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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Title: Zero for Conduct (1933)

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Jean Dasté ...
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

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:

,  »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Banned by the French censor until well after World War II. 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 »

Connections

Referenced in Un compositeur pour le cinéma: Maurice Jaubert (1985) See more »

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User Reviews

A flawed though no less worthy experience
25 May 2008 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

This is an odd film, one that will certainly test the patience of many potential viewers given the sad fact that it is technically an unfinished work; standing at only 41 minutes in length and abruptly ending at the point when it was becoming most interesting. However, even in this currently truncated form there is no denying that director Jean Vigo was an incredibly talented young man; as this short sketch of a film and his lone masterpiece L'Atalante (1934) will attest. What impresses most about Zéro de conduit (1933) - which shouldn't work, but somehow does - is the juxtaposition and appropriation of a number of textural and thematic reference points that move from elements of bold farce and satirical comment, to the further elements of silent humour, surrealist symbolism and neo-realist observation. It's all tied together by the strong use of characterisation, the likable performances from these young and natural actors and the still somewhat exciting way in which the various references have all been woven seamlessly together.

Really though, it's simply a great little romp; with the free-spirited kids sowing the seeds of rebellion against the strict regime of tradition and conformity forced upon them by the teachers of a long-established French boarding school in such a way as to make for great satirical farce. In this respect, you can see it as an obvious influence on Lindsay Anderson's subversive masterpiece If... (1968) and indeed, certain elements of François Truffaut's classic, The 400 Blows (1959), with the school-based setting and the ideas of youthful rebellion being fairly iconic in the post 60's sense, and no doubt standing as fairly radical issues to be dramatised in the year 1934 (no wonder the film was banned by the censors until after the close of World War II). Regardless, the film is charming in a way that many films of this period often are, with the smart-alecky kids running rings around the stuffy lecturers in a no doubt fairly pointed metaphor for French cinema of this particular era (and of Vigo's potential to be something of a precursor to Jean-Luc Godard in terms of shaking up the establishment) before a last minute U-turn into more abstract territory with that iconic pillow-fight - and its dreamlike use of slow motion and accidental nudity - turns the whole thing on its head.

It's a real shame that the film isn't longer; giving us more room to get to know the characters and allowing the switch in tone to propel the drama into a more satisfying climax. As it stands, it is still a great piece of film-making, though one that will obviously be a somewhat infuriating experience for some. The experiments hinted at in the pillow fight sequences would seem to take a direct influence from Vigo's documentary film Taris, roi de l'eau (1931), while the more social-realist moments draw on his short-form travelogue À propos de Nice (1930), with all of these particular techniques and the influence found in Zéro de conduit itself later being blended into the brilliant L'Atalante. Unfortunately Vigo would subsequently die at the age of 29, denying the world of further films that may have contextualised Zéro de conduit beyond that of a short-form sketch. Still, as it stands today, over 70 years on, Vigo's film has lost none of its ability to charm, delight and confound the expectations of viewers; showing the hints of what a true talent he was and could have been, as well as offering a fairly worthy experience in its own right.


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