The Essential Movie Library #25: L'Atalante (1934) - The Culture Files Blog - Los Angeles magazine
 
 

The Essential Movie Library #25: L'Atalante (1934)

The story of lovers afloat on a canal barge

This movie would be regarded as an utter failure for more than a decade (when it was remembered at all) until subsequent generations of filmmakers including Francois Truffaut, Bernardo Bertolucci, and Jim Jarmusch fell under its spell. So much a tone poem that one thinks of it as a silent picture (it isn’t) except when it anticipates France’s Nouvelle Vague (20 years in the future), Jean Vigo’s story of lovers afloat on a canal barge is at once lyrical and exultantly anarchic, finally seeming to exist as much outside time altogether as on the ghost river by which the barge sails to Paris, a place that always has its way with romantics. 

The four-month shoot was wet and cold. Vigo became so sick by the moment that he was unable to defend the movie from a studio butchery matched only by critical savagery: “I’m killing myself,” he said, “with l’Atalante.” True to his word, three weeks after the film’s disastrous opening, in a time when one could still make the ultimate sacrifice for art, Vigo was dead of tuberculosis at age 29.

Read them all:
The Essential Movie Library #24: Sunrise
The Essential Movie Library #23: His Girl Friday
The Essential Movie Library #22: Black Narcissus
The Essential Movie Library #21: Blade Runner
The Essential Movie Library #20: Persona
The Essential Movie Library #19: The Shop Around the Corner
The Essential Movie Library #18: Lost Highway
The Essential Movie Library #17: Tokyo Story
The Essential Movie Library #16: 8 1/2

The Essential Movie Library #15: City Lights
The Essential Movie Library #14: Seven Samurai
The Essential Movie Library #13: Lawrence of Arabia
The Essential Movie Library #12: Citizen Kane
The Essential Movie Library #11: Jules and Jim
The Essential Movie Library #10: My Darling Clementine
The Essential Movie Library #9: Double Indemnity
The Essential Movie Library #8: That Obscure Object of Desire
The Essential Movie Library #7: 2001: A Space Odyssey
The Essential Movie Library #6: Casablanca
The Essential Movie Library #5: The Lady Eve
The Essential Movie Library #4: The Third Man
The Essential Movie Library #3: The Passion of Joan of Arc
The Essential Movie Library #2: Vertigo
The Essential Movie Library #1: The Godfather Trilogy

Leave a comment:

· Subscribe to comments
Be the first to comment here.

Advertisement

Stay Connected

 
Get Our LAmag.com Free Newsletter
 
more promotions
Subscribe to Los Angeles magazine
 
Close

Advertisement