the sights (no sounds) of Nice; a little aimless, but captivating
If you're not awake for it A Propos de Nice could be a little boring, or just a little tiresome. There's no real specific 'point' to the visual, silent documentary that is Jean Vigo's first film, though what is and what isn't shown does strike some interest, along with some other miscellaneous images. It starts off with a spellbinding (and for the time revolutionary) image though, of the city of Nice seen from an angle high above in a plane. From there Vigo shows the upper class life, the vicariousness, the fun (driving cars, swimming in the ocean, going to nice restaurants, dancing), and then the film ends with a strange mix of images of smoke and fire and smokestacks and people laughing in close-up.
The best thing about this short film is that there's a free-form approach to getting the city. It's part of what were called the 'city symphony' documentaries, where filmmakers just took there cameras around the city, getting images that delighted, or shocked, them. The film goes by with some strange camera moves, some low-angle perspectives of women doing the 'can-can', and more smiling. But probably the most provocative (and my favorite) image of the film is when there is a woman's body on a chair, we see her in different pieces of clothing, until she's nude. Is this surrealist, or just experimenting in form? It's not like a Bunuel film, for example, because it's more about getting the scenery and shapes of the buildings in Nice than outright provoking the audience.
But on the other hand, there is a mix of Freudian, lightly surreal qualities to the film that I appreciated greatly, as were in a few independent filmmakers at the time. It's both exhilarating and a little dull- with the wrong soundtrack (I saw it with a common baroque score) its interest swings depending on the moment. If I can find it, I'd watch it again, especially after seeing more of Vigo's works.
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