Incorporating innovative filming techniques--such as slow-motion, close-ups, underwater takes, and freeze frames--in his avant-garde sport short film, Jean Vigo approaches the seemingly trite subject of swimming with an almost poetic sensitivity. Attempting to capture on film the intricate anatomy of a strong first-class athlete, the French director brings to the foreground the celebrated-of-his-epoch French Olympic swimming champion, Jean Taris, as the silver medallist's strong and flexible limbs propel him through the aqueous substance. What's it like to be the king of the water?Written by
Vigo's second film, a short, is a dated but fun technique work-out
The second of Vigo's four films is about 10 minutes long. The subject, allegedly, is a French national swimming champion, Jean Taris. First we see him swimming normally. Then we see a hint that this isn't a documentary short: Taris dives into the water, Vigo runs the film backwards, and Taris is spit back out. This happens 3 times. Thus the crux of the film: inventive (for the time) technique, while overuse of it occurs. Fun stuff, though: interesting shots of Taris doing the backstroke. Finally, we see him goofing around underwater; by this point, the movie achieves a genuine state of grace. Can be found on No. 10 of the New York Film Annex's video series of experimental and abstract films.
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