As was the fashion among many directors of the epoch, Jean Vigo's first "point-of-view" documentary aimed at capturing the life and the very essence of a city; here, the beautiful seaside resort of early-1930s Nice. However, with the aid of Dziga Vertov's brother, Boris Kaufman, this avant-garde short film evolved from an ordinary depiction of a coastal town into a caustic and sarcastic report of the "real" Nice, portraying the contrasting lifestyles of its inhabitants. Starting with a series of captivating aerial takes, Vigo's film continues with scenes that pivot around the sun-kissed Promenade des Anglais, and unexpected juxtapositions of poverty and wealth; modern architecture and garbage; the working poor and the idle rich. In the cosmopolitan city of Nice on the French Côte d'Azur, eye-catching tableaux of sharp and eternal antitheses invite us to take a look at the anatomy of a small world. Does beauty transcend the boundaries of money, language, and social classes?Written by
How the experienced eye captures that which the youthful eye cannot interpret.
I first saw this as part of a school film study in 1960. THEN as I recall, I merely saw a creaky old French travelogue highlighting more or less a day in the life of a town on the French Cote D'Azur that bore less relevance, to ME at least, than the rather staid and somewhat uninspiring biscuits named after it!
I saw A PROPOS DE NICE again some forty years later at a lowly patronised French Film Festival which had been hurridly organised apparently by Sydney University. What I saw THAT night, with the advantage of four decades of life's experiences, was a superbly constructed attack on, or should I say "de-construction" OF - the Bourgois. Vigo, himself an anarchist to his left femur, relentlessly piles on the satire with images of the "respected" upper-class acting anything but respectfully.
Innovative indeed was the cinematography from Boris Kaufman with intentionally tilted aspects of buildings to lessen their grandeur, use of shadow and striking images of the people (love the Brit tourists nursing their fish and chips) as they go about their daily business.
Essential viewing for students of early French cinema.
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