The debut film by 24 year old Jean Vigo extends the city of the city symphony into an inflammatory Surrealist hymn to the inequities of leisure and the organisation of space. Boris Kaufman, younger brother of Dziga Vertov and Mikhail Kaufman, infiltrated the holiday resort of Nice, shooting with a hidden camera, spying on the beaches of the wealthy and the quartiers of the urban poor quarters.
In his address to the Groupement des Spectateurs d'Avant-Garde, Vigo stated his position clearly; é─˛In this film, by showing certain basic aspects of a city, a way of life is put on trial, the last gasps of a society so lost in its escapism that it sickens you and makes you sympathetic to a revolutionary solution.é─˘
Yet the vision of carnival at the heart of ?─ Propos De Nice is more ambiguous than Vigo indicated; the filmmakers voyeuristic exhilaration and ideological repulsion towards their subject meets in a celebrated montage that is riven with conflicting energies.
Jean Vigo was the son of a political anarchist Miguel Almereyda, who died in prison in 1917. Vigoé─˘s mother tried to keep his fatheré─˘s past from him, going so far as to change the family name. Afflicted by tuberculosis from an early age, Vigo spent many years in an asylum, where he met his future wife. Upon leaving Vigo channeled his passion fueled by his father's secret history into his films. During his short career he produced only 4 works but is considered one of the masters of French cinema. After his first film ?─ propos de Nice he made Taris, roi de l'eau (1931) a short documentary and then Z?ęro de conduite, a major work revealing the conflict between teachers and students, which was banned upon release as being seditious. Lé─˘Atalante was to become Vigoé─˘s last and only feature film. Vigo died in Paris from septicaemia shortly after Lé─˘Atalante was released at the age of 29.
Jean Vigo ?─ Propos De Nice 1930 Čę courtesy of the BFI, London