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L' Atalante

4.6 out of 5 stars 27 customer reviews

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(Apr 15, 2003)
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Editorial Reviews

This intoxicatingly inventive masterpiece- a perennial entry on best-of-all-time lists- is one of the world's great films. Jean Vigo's innovative style transforms a simple and engaging plot of a young woman's stormy initiation into married life on a river barge, into a kaleidoscope of dazzling digressions and offbeat characterizations complete with tour-de-force scenes that still seem fresh and startling.

Jean, the young captain of the barge L'ATALANTE, marries Juliette, a village girl who has never left home before. They sail away together along with a cabin boy and the colorful sailor Pere Jules, played by Michel Simon - in a legendary, uproarious and unpredictable performance forming the very heart of Vigo's magical, anarchic universe. Becoming bored, Juliette slips off the ship to discover the delights of Paris- forcing Jean into heartbreak.

Restored in 2001, this version of the film aims to be as faithful to the original as possible. Viewers can once again enjoy the luminous beauty of Boris Kaufman's evocative cinematography and the marvelous music of Maurice Jaubert in Jean Vigo's triumphant masterpiece as it was meant to be seen.

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Dita Parlo, Jean Dasté, Michel Simon, Gilles Margaritis, Louis Lefebvre
  • Directors: Jean Vigo
  • Writers: Jean Vigo, Albert Riéra, Jean Guinée
  • Producers: Jacques-Louis Nounez
  • Format: Black & White, NTSC
  • Language: French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: New Yorker Video
  • DVD Release Date: April 15, 2003
  • Run Time: 89 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00008OSD5
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #131,204 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "L' Atalante" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
Earlier reviewers have complained about this DVD's quality, and I want to clear up the confusion. The way that New Yorker Films (not connected to The New Yorker magazine) has packaged this DVD is outstanding. They've specialized in more recent (i.e., post-1970) foreign films, so if this is what they can do with older films, I'd love to see them work on others. It's not quite Criterion-level quality, but considering the challenges, it's as impressive as many of Criterion's major accomplishments.

For a movie that was all but lost to us, they've has done wonders with the restoration. The aspect ratio is accurate, contrary to what one reviewer says below. Since L'Atalante was made before 1953, it CAN'T be shown in letterbox! Unfortunately, there's slight cropping at the left and top throughout the film, and it's especially notable during the opening titles. French directors of the 1930s regularly had their action overflow the frame, so it's difficult to say how much this cropping affects the rest of the film. There's also slight debris on the print, but that's unavoidable for a film of this age and history. There is also some confusion on the film's running time. The advertised 89 minutes only applies to VHS tapes. The actually film runs about 85 minutes, including the opening and closing titles. However, critics believe that this version (based on an early 1934 print and supplemented with better-quality outtakes) is as close to Vigo's intended vision as we'll ever get. He died before he could oversee a "final cut."

The extras are slim, but worthwhile. There's a filmography for Vigo and 2 galleries (one of posters and one of stills and behind-the-scene photos). Best of all is a short documentary about L'Atalante. It's called "The Making of...
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Format: DVD
Most of the well written reviews here talk knowledgeably about film matters about which I know nothing. What I do know is that this film is simply one of the most achingly beautiful, romantic movies I have ever seen. My husband and I first saw it 30 years ago, when we were dating. The quality was bad, obviously prerestoration, but we still just fell in love with the movie. There is a scene (and the other reviewers have spelled out the basic plot: village girl marries barge captain, they argue, separate, meet again) where the young man, missing his wife, swims under water and sees a fantasy of her -- well, that was so touching. And, yes, the scene where the couple thinks of one another is one of the most magical, love filled scenes in movie history. I have to comment, too, on the lovely quality of light in this film. [One odd point, has anyone else noticed how much the vaudeville entertainer, who flirts with Juliette, looks like Jim Carrey? We thought it just spooky since the movie was made 70 years ago!] So, this is a great valentine's day movie, for romance, or any day movie if you just love really welldone movies. We recently purchased the restored copy on DVD and were very pleased. The only thing I can think would improve it would be more extras.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
The restoration and theatrical re-release of L'Atalante a decade ago was nothing less than a cinematic event. The movie had been edited to shreds shortly after it's doomed director, Jean Vigo, had presented his original work to an apparently incenced Parisian audience. Just as with Rites of Spring, the Golden Age and Coltrane/Dolphy, the emnity that the work generated from the French audience was strong evidence to the quality and importance of this brilliant piece of avant garde.
The movie has been described as a combination of both surrealism and realism, but in truth Vigo's vision is entirely unique, and the style died with him. The emotional mood is practically labile and often ironic, such as the funeral-like reactions of onlookers to the wedding of the young couple, that opens the story. There are gentley jarring moments scattered about; the images of the later estranged lovers, shots of the two hugging themselves, imagining the other, combined to present a haunting view of romance defies description (obviously) and are unforgettable.
More captivating than the two young leads is Michedl Simon as the first mate. His comedy touches can only be called sublime. The scene when the bride comes to visit his cabin and witness all his wondrous bounty of mechanical diversion is truely one of film's great gems.
The (restored) VHS version of this has remained prohibitively priced. There is no more important film that has waited for it's DVD release. If you haven't had the chance to see it yet, you're in luck.
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Format: DVD
Juliette, a woman in small-town France marries Jean, a barge captain. Within minutes, the newlywed couple start their life together on the barge L'Atlante, where the characters develop and the plot forms. Among the characters is Papa Jules, who is a charming, tattooed old roughneck with an affinity for cats (which are everywhere) who shares stories and tricks with Juliette, and earns the scorn of the jealous and uptight Jean. Docking in Paris, Juliette (played by Dita Parlo, one of the most adorable women ever to grace celluloid), a naieve country girl, is seduced by the culture and charm of the city, and her husband, an uptight bundle of insecurity, just cannot deal with her innocent flirtations. He abandons her, and the emotions start pouring out. The rest cannot be explained in words, you'll just have to see how it works out, as the narrative of the film is incredibly visual.

The cinematography is among the best you'll ever see in your life. Also contains one of the most erotic scenes ever put to film, though no sex is featured. May move you to tears. Essential viewing for film lovers.
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