Video Essay: Jean Vigo – Exploring the Revolution (Anarchism)



hello guys and welcome back to the channel but the past couple of months have been interested in anarchist theory and anarchism as a political ideology and how dissidents and revolutionary strategies may lead to a toppling of the status quo whether that be political economical or social in my research I turned to arts to film history and I found this guy in particular Jean Vigo we go it's almost unanimously labeled as an anarchist due to his father his father wrote anarchist literature and he participated in dissenting behavior all the time Jean Vigo himself directed films in the 1930s and he was known to be a precursor to the movement known as French poetic realism which included magnificent directors such as Marcel carné Julian Duvivier and the most pivotal one of them all Jean Renoir what struck me is how Vigo displays analyst ideas through his visual storytelling especially in the film Cyril de gand reads or two English speakers zero for conduct Anika 'some and revolution are scarcely mentioned in conversation between characters but it is suggested and highlighted by stylistic choices this is what sets John Vigo apart from the directors of his time before we start this cinematic exploration all you need to know about Cyril de gand read is that it can be difficult to follow at first plot wise at its core the film is about students at a boarding school overthrowing the school's administration so how is this achieved visually in general Vigo opposes conventions for example he tends to avoid establishing shots and he'll simply throw the spectator into the polemics Officine disoriented and fumbling for some sense or some coherence he'll also do these quaint camera angles and odd camera movements Jean Vigo was a missing scene director he chose to hide the Edit hide the cuts preserve the shot for as long as possible and he liked doing long takes this is a particular cinematic style it's a picturesque style and it demands order and harmony and Vigo's execution of it is both poetic and chaotic also Vigo doesn't give a flying fuck about pacing one of his biggest rage is how he creates a tension between grotesque impression and poetic expansion at certain points of the film everything will stand still they resemble a photograph more than they do a movie and at other points his films seem wrap it in a way they will almost jump or do a quick jerk in narrative and in the visuals I'll elaborate on this in a minute and more specifically Jean Vigo was way ahead of his time the most poignant example of Jean Viggo's forward-thinking happens here the scene where the children are in their beds the scene shows this rigid grid system of beds you can tell how the bodies of the boys are partitioned out evenly throughout this enclosed space it seems almost cellular it seems almost as if it could be our restriction of body movement much akin to that of the prison the film makes a critique similar to that of Michel Foucault especially when the three main characters the three main boys are waiting at the teachers bed the scene resembles closely the panopticon mention if Rico's discipline and punish in this system it is hypothesized how a prison guard could keep a watch on a whole lot of prisoners all at once however the prison guard doesn't have to stand in the center of the structure it only has to be suggested that someone might be there the panopticon suggests that people will alter their own behavior due to the feeling of someone watching them what is so interesting about this scene is seho conduits came out 42 years prior to michel foucault's book secondly that's this notion of camaraderie in the film especially in the scene inside the cafeteria we see the kids starting and uprising dissatisfied with the food they are given however the uprising comes to a complete stop because the kids realize that the woman working in the kitchen is actually the mother of one of the boys and they cease this uprising this dissident behavior because they don't want to hurt one of visually the film comments and critiques normal social conventions as well when one of the main characters a boy named Tabitha is called upon the principal in the principal's office Tabata is being scolded for having to intimate a relationship with an older boy what's most interesting about this scene is how it exemplifies the grotesque impression I mentioned before the grotesque condensation comes into play through the shock effects through the distortion of reality through the erratic camera angles and also through the awkwardness of the school's principal the scene is condensed it only lasts a very short while then there's the most important scene of them all the scene where tabat refuses to apologize publicly after calling out a teacher basically cussing at him it shows the in camera editing technique that we go in the other directors at the time utilized you can see how the cameras were back and forth first showing the students reaction to the event then the reaction of the leaders and then when we see the last member of the school's leadership stepped down from the podium the school is finally ripe for the taking the scene shows the viewers that hierarchy has broken down at the school that everyone's equal and it shows that the students have become aware of this fact too and lastly there's the revolution itself this is where the grotesque impression is being swapped out for the poetic expansion and the temporal dimension of the film is sort of stretched allowing the film to breathe much more fully than it did before this is the part where the famous slow-motion scene appears and the takeover of the school the revolution is almost like a ballad it's almost serene in its insurrection and when the boys emerge out on the courtyard you can tell that the film starts to critique religion and government as well the focus the scope is no longer just that of the school Jean Vigo and sigil dick and read set the tone for how films depicting similar events take shape however the films in this genre are always cut too short they show the inherently cinematic Ellucian the revolution which is a spectacle which is almost carnival esque they don't show the aftermath they don't give a realistic picture of insurrection as it actually is and I'm not the only one raising this objection maybe you know my joke I always like to refer here to that film didn't see it was it popular with you V for Vendetta all radical leftist oh it's multitude it's not alienated party structure its multitude people self-organized win but my joke is always you know how the film ends people break the police cordon occupied the Parliament and then the end of the film my joke is always I did I'm ready to help my mother into slavery for a film called V for Vendetta part 2 these endings diminish the validity the realistic expectations of subverting the status quo they leave a gap in the revolutionist discourse Anna kissed films don't overthrow the powers that be they merely disturb them thank you for watching the video guys I hope you enjoyed it be sure to leave a like and to subscribe to the channel




Comments
  1. Regarding Revolution and it's aftermath, I highly suggest two books by Carlos Fuentes: Nietzsche on his Balcony, and The Death of Artemio Cruz. Fuentes, a Mexican born right after the Revolution, had an life-long obsession with Revolutions and their aftermath / failures. And he was quite fluent in Continental philosophy, using ideas from Foucault, Sartre, and Camus at times but funneled through a wider Latin American lens.

  2. Great video my friend. I wont see too much of it for now because first I want to see and try to comprehend by myself Jean Vigo's cinema, but definitly, afterwards, I will check out. Peace

  3. Great video. Its very insightful. I am new to the channel, and I am also dealing with my own existential crisis. The way I deal with it is also reading through literature and philosophy. As of right now I finished reading a French novel called Journey to the End of the Night by Louis-Ferdinand Céline, and I also read Story of the Eye and My Mother by George Bataille. I wonder what is your take with either of these two writers, as they had a great influence on literature and philosophy.

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