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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.
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Top customer reviews
This is the story of young love (i.e.: innocence). We start with a wedding of barge captain and small-town girl. Everybody follows the couple to the barge expecting a reception of some sort. However, the captain merely signals that it is time to shove off and the wedding guest stand there puzzled with the abrupt end of the celebration. This and many other scenes really do tell an intimate story and it is the sum total of all of these intimate glimpses that have given the movie its' fame. The love story reaches out to us and we smile at times and shudder at other times when the newly weds make the newlywed mistakes. The development of trust and understanding, the assertion of who's boss, the realization that being right is no fun if it means being alone, etc, etc, all come together in a beautiful movie. BUT it's still not one of the greatest movies of all time!!!
My problem was in anticipating something greater than I got. It wasn't the first time nor will it be the last. However, maybe my efforts to tone down the praise will give others a chance to watch it without expectations. I'm sure my review would have been a lot different had I been able to see "L'Atalante" that way.
Fortunately, however, while the letters of the subtitles are white, the letters sport tiny black borders, allowing them to remain legible even when they appear against a whitish backdrop, such as snow or a bridal dress.
Why doesn't everybody just make yellow subtitles? Sheesh!
Anyhow. The extras are lame: you get to see a gallery of posters for the film and a bevy of still shots.
In short, what you're gettng is essentially the movie in DVD format, but nothing more worth mentioning. Don't be led into thinking this is a revolutionary transfer or anything. I can't see how anyone could feel that way.
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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