During the First World War, two French soldiers are captured and imprisoned in a German P.O.W. camp. Several escape attempts follow until they are sent to a seemingly impenetrable fortress which seems impossible to escape from.
In the midst of the Russian Revolution of 1905, the crew of the battleship Potemkin mutiny against the brutal, tyrannical regime of the vessel's officers. The resulting street demonstration in Odessa brings on a police massacre.
Sergei M. Eisenstein
A surrealist tale of a man and a woman who are passionately in love with each other, but their attempts to consummate that passion are constantly thwarted by their families, the Church, and bourgeois society.
Caridad de Laberdesque
When Juliette marries Jean, she comes to live with him as he captains a river barge. Besides the two of them, are a cabin boy and the strange old second mate Pere Jules. Soon bored by life on the river, she slips off to see the nightlife when they come to Paris. Angered by this, Jean sets off, leaving Juliette behind. Overcome by grief and longing for his wife, Jean falls into a depression and Pere Jules goes and tries to find Juliette.Written by
Not the finest movie ever. Not even the 12th finest. But it's a pretty good movie.
As I am writing this review in 2014, this movie celebrates its 80th anniversary. Some years ago it was considered the greatest movie ever. It's a pretty good movie indeed, but claiming it as the best ever is a perfect nonsense. As the movie is celebrating its 80th anniversary, the critics seem to be a little more reasonable, considering it now the 12th greatest movie ever. Claiming it as the 12th greatest ever is a nonsense too, but better that than claiming it as the greatest of all.
That said, this is a movie with significant historical and sentimental value. It was the first and last full-length film directed by the promising young director Jean Vigo, who was taken away from us too soon. Jean Vigo only directed two documentary movies ("À propos de Nice" and "Taris, roi de l'eau") and one controversial featurette ("Zéro de conduite"). "L'Atalante" would be his first and only full-length motion picture. He always had a fragile health but his illness worsened considerably when he directed "L'Atalante" and that finished him off. Although he knew he was going to die soon, he still wanted to make the movie until the end. You can say that he gave his life to make this movie. Despite his short movie career he left his mark and later influenced french directors such as François Truffaut and the French New Wave.
"L'Atalante" was also released under the interesting alternative title «Le chaland qui passe». It's as simple and basic as a movie can be. Even though it takes place mostly inside a crude river barge, it also has nice sights of some french village in the beginning and later some lovely sights of the gorgeous city of Paris. And a good thing they did that, because if the whole thing was inside an ugly cargo ship, it would have been boring.
Generally speaking, the characters are nothing too special, despite the good performances by the respective actors.
Jean Dasté is Jean, whom I have a divisive opinion about. On one hand he is quite funny at times, but on the other hand he shows he is impulsive and bossy. To be honest, sometimes he really is a douche, especially towards the cats and his wife.
Dita Parlo is Juliette (Jean's wife). She isn't particularly charming and not really hot in nature, but she is usually a decent woman and fine-looking rather than a "fatal attraction".
Michel Simon is Père Jules, an eccentric old sailorman. While his moral nature is questionable (well, you wouldn't expect anything but lack of politeness from a sailorman), he is a fun and entertaining character.
Louis Lefebvre is the cabin boy with a bizarre voice. Not much of a character, although there are some funny scenes with him.
Gilles Margaritis is the street peddler. He is the funniest character of the film. I know that he wasn't supposed to have much of a role, but still it's a shame that his role wasn't bigger. Plus, in a way I think that Juliette should have ended up with him instead of going back to Jean.
The soundtrack is nice, especially the Main Theme and the music that is played in the nightclub where Jean and Juliette meet the street peddler.
The french of this movie can be really difficult to understand. Extra-attention is required to understand it as much as possible, because the language is often spoken very quickly. That characteristic is particularly notorious on Michel Simon, although part of the reason could be his nationality (he was swiss, and the swiss french has its peculiarities).
In theory that is not so bad if you've got subtitles, but if you don't... on the other hand, even with subtitles, for people who want to understand, feel and learn the french, it can be quite hard to understand the thunder-paced french in this movie.
Title in Portugal: 'O Atalante'.
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