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Jean Vigo’s
The Unseen Director’s Cut

Must End Tuesday, October 9

2:15 & 6:00 ONLY

Directed by Jean Vigo

(1934) The seaside wedding procession proceeding at a dreamy pace through a seemingly deserted town; bride Dita Parlo (Jean Gabin’s farm frau lover in Grand Illusion) promenading in her wedding dress across her new home, a river barge; Michael Simon’s cat-loving crewman Père Jules with his cornucopia of globe-trotting souvenirs (included a friend’s hands preserved in a jar); the visually expressed longing of Parlo and groom Jean Dasté for each other when first separated. Vigo’s third and final feature is outwardly a simple story: couple weds, couple has problems, couple reunites – transformed by the director’s poetic, idiosyncratic touch into a masterpiece. While previous restorations inserted footage discarded by Vigo, this new restoration – from original nitrate prints preserved by the BFI, Cineteca Italiana, and Cinémathèque Française – return it to the 1934 director’s cut. Cinematographer Boris Kaufman recalled, “He used everything around him: the sun, the moon, snow, night. Instead of fighting unfavorable conditions, he made them play a part.” Already in delicate health (at times he had to direct from a stretcher), the winter location shooting may have pushed Vigo over the edge—he died of lung disease at age 29, three weeks after the Paris premiere. Mutilated by its original French distributors (and not fully restored until 1989), then banned by the censors as “anti-French,” L’Atalante has always been embraced by cinéphiles and cinéastes alike. The British film critic Philip French sums it up: “L’Atalante is one of the most beautiful and haunting movies ever made… sad, funny, humane – it defines what is meant by the poetry of cinema.” DCP. Approx. 89 min.

Restored in 4K in 2017 by Gaumont in association with Cinémathèque Française and The Film Foundation, with the support of CNC, L’Immagine Ritrovata and L’Image Retrouvée laboratories.


“I definitely came to prefer L’Atalante, which I never leave out when I’m asked: ‘What, in your opinion, are the ten best films of all time?’”
– François Truffaut

“The movie is a succession of extraordinary set pieces so exactly and delicately realized that the film gives the impression of having been improvised in a single ecstatic spasm of inspiration. It opens with a most peculiar wedding procession in which the bride's family and friends escort her and Jean from the church to the barge. The rituals are familiar, but the way Vigo sees them is not. The supposedly happy occasion is filled with a certain desperation and dread.”
 Vincent Canby, The New York Times

“One of the most beautiful and haunting movies ever made… Defines what is meant by the poetry of cinema.”
– Philip French

“[L’Atalante] should be seen at least three times: once to see how, in the hands of a visionary, surrealism can seem as natural as breathing; again to be reminded how many sensuous tools of cinema are so rarely used; and a third time... just because.”
– David Edelstein, New York Magazine

“RIVETING. The gift of L’Atalante is that with every viewing it makes us see the world—and the medium’s possibilities—anew. These restorations bring us another step closer to a film that is an inexhaustible source of cinematic magic.”
– Kristin Jones, The Wall Street Journal

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