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aka - Nil for Conduct
France 1933
Directed by
Jean Vigo
45 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars

Zero De Conduite

Zéro De Conduite is an amusing and touching short film about a group of young boarding school students based on the director's own experinces. It provided inspiration for both Lindsay Anderson's If… (1968) and Truffaut's The 400 Blows 1959) and perhaps also cast its shadow over Herzog’s Even Dwarfs Started Small,1970).  It is an energetic satire of provincialism and petty authoritarianism and a striking film for its time, both stylistically in its use of non-realistic elements and in terms of its anti-establishmentarianism (Vigo was the son of a militant anarchist who died in jail).

So trenchant was it in criticising the system that the film was banned on political grounds in France until 1945. Unfortunately Vigo only made one more film, L'Atalante (which also starred Jean Dasté, who plays the only likeable teacher here) before he died of tuberculosis in 1934.

DVD Extras: Madman has made Zéro De Conduite available as part of a two-disc release of Vigo’s entire catalogue of 4 films, including, L’Atalante; a silent documentary, A Propos de Nice (1930) and a 10m instructional film about a champion swimmer, Taris, Roi de L’eau. L’Atalante comes with an audio commentary by Dr. Wendy Haslem of the University of Melbourne; a documentary, Sound Regained, on the audio restoration of Vigo’s films; and an interview with film-maker Otar Iosseliani on the influence of Vigo on his work. 

Available from: Madman




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