Road trip on a boat! Vigo was a film prophet that died far too young, but luckily this bold film would later inspire the French New Wave. Most early talkies were rather garbage, but L’Atalante combines a fresh and funny script with ambitious cinematography that fought the censorship.
"L'Atalante" is one of the most beautiful and haunting films I've ever seen. I love this movie not because it displays the perfect relationship, but because it doesn’t. It has a simple plot - sad, funny and humane. The film is the very personification of the word 'tender’ and shows a profound understanding of the nature of what love is all about. It's a truly endearing film.
Abjectly elegant poeticisms aside, it's like a socioeconomically bitter version of 'Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans'. Both being archetypal in nature, it's another case of material temptation splitting a once-loving couple apart. But whereas 'Sunrise's lead expends his malice in one near-fatal action, 'L'Atalante's is unlikable throughout, trying to shut his wife off from worldly wonder, despite traveling with her.
Here I stand, brash obelisk of callousness, my hardened elephantine feet failed to divine butterfly wings below the stomp, my spongy orthopedic shock absorbers indifferent to gravel or chenille.. If the true voyage of discovery doesn't consist in finding novel places, but in developing new eyes, I've gone 1 place too many, I've seen a film de trop. Indeed I'm hominid not human, why else didn't Atalante blow me apart?
Such a pleasant film, full of mirth and whimsy. I've been having mixed feelings about Vigo so far (Zero for Conduct being pretty good, the rest not), but this is a step above what came before. There's so much sheer happiness and spirit and nostalgia in this movie that it becomes essentially impossible to dislike. Gets you emotionally involved and generally genuinely smiling throughout. A beautiful little tale.
Poetic realism forms such an exciting period in film history for me. I love this blend of avant-garde, documentary and fiction. To me the only disappointment was that it could've had more of those transformative elements. Yet it was a joy to watch. Great effort, great era.