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May 2nd, 2019

Taris and L'Atalante: double-bill

Two masterpieces from 1930s France

Taris: Jean Vigo, France, 1931, 9 mins.

A beautiful short film that shows nothing more than a swimmer doing his lengths. We see his face and body clearly while the drops of water splashing about look more impressionistic, like showers of diamonds. A technically ground-breaking film that conveys the swimmer’s movement brilliantly.

L'Atalante: Jean Vigo, France, 1934, 85 mins.

This film tells a simple but involving human story which starts when the skipper of a barge that plies the canals of France marries a pretty girl who joins him on the boat with his mate, an eccentric old sea-dog, and a lad. Before long the young wife becomes disillusioned with life on board, is seduced by a travelling salesman she meets on a stop-off and leaves her husband to see what awaits her in the city. It's fascinating to see what life on a working boat would have been like and the characters are fully drawn and very believable. The cinematography brings the scenes to life more vividly than in many a film of today.