Friday, May 3, 2013

83. L'Atalante (1934)

Running Time: 89 minutes
Directed By: Jean Vigo
Written By: Jean Guinee, Albert Riera
Main Cast: Jean Daste, Dita Parlo, Michel Simon, Gilles Margaritis, Louis Lefebvre
Click here to view the trailer

30s = DONE!

Yep, that's right. With the watching of "L'Atalante", I now have officially watched everything from the beginning of THE BOOK, all the way up to 1941! It also means that within the span of two movies, I've completed both the 21st century and the decade of the 1930s!

Jean (Daste) and Juliette (Parlo) have just been married. While her weepy eyed family bid her adieu, she follows Jean to a barge, which he's the captain of. Aboard the boat, Juliette meets Jean's crew: his second-in-command Pere Jules (Simon) and the cabin boy. Pere Jules is a simple minded fellow, who's seemingly spent his whole life on the water, an uneducated sort. He has a thing for cat's and aboard the L'Atalante, he houses many. Jean and Juliette seem a happy first, but Jean shows a troubled side early, when he catches Juliette harmlessly chatting with Jules and goes into a jealous rage, smashing plates and breaking everything in site. He apologizes swiftly and the honeymoon is back on, as the L'Atalante docks in Paris. Juliette, having never been to the big city before, can't wait to go ashore and see the bright lights of the big city. Jean promises to take her out, but when Jules disappears for a little while, he claims he can't leave the boat alone and cancels their plans. Eventually they do go out, but when a peddler flirts with Juliette, Jean goes into another jealous rage and when the peddler shows up at the boat, once the couple are back aboard, Jean gets even more furious. Realizing that she could never be content with such a jealous man, Juliette leaves and heads into the city on her own. Once gone, Jean vows to cast off that night, leaving her behind, thus ending their marriage.

Boy, I guess I just don't get Jean Vigo. I can remember way back when, when I'd first started this journey and when I reviewed "Zero for Conduct". I remember hating it and telling what I thought in my very amateur, early review. Following that, I remember going onto the IMDB message boards and further sharing my thoughts with some of the users there. I wasn't a confident critic then, so when the other users "tore me a new one" for not loving "Zero", I headed for the hills and since then, my presence at those message boards has been scarce. I've become more confident in my own opinion since then and today, I always stand behind what I say, when it pertains to film. I feel that I've seen enough movies to watch and understand them and especially to speak about them intelligently, without being ashamed of my opinion.

Anyway (I got off topic there, didn't I?) I didn't like "L'Atalante" in the slightest. To me, it was a nothing film and I just don't get all the hubbub over this one. I'd heard some pretty amazing things about this picture, however, it really failed to deliver the goods and I was left with a fairly hollow story about a newly married man and woman aboard a barge, heading to Paris. Big whoop! I mean, was I missing something obviously outstanding here? I guess, from my brief bit of research, it was a big pioneer in what would later become the French New Wave, so there's that, but as a story it's really nothing to get too excited over. Michel Simon is pretty great as Pere Jules, but that's about the extent of my enjoyment, which includes him playing a phonograph record with his index finger...a great moment! Otherwise, this is as forgetful a film as I'll watch or have watched on my journey and I'm sure in a month I won't even remember the characters' names. End of rant.

RATING: 3.5/10  I'll give it a few notches, because it was more forgetful and meaningless than outright bad and because Michel Simon is quickly becoming someone I'm realizing I need to keep my eye on and he was pretty good here.


May 3, 2013  11:51pm


  1. I was laughing out loud at your message board comments. I myself have felt the wrath of the misguided cultural snob when I said that I thought Citizen Kane was dull. Good for you that you now trust your opinions.

    1. Oh aren't they the worst?? I feel that a certain group of people need to be sat down and taught the difference between fact and opinion...Thanks Amanda!

  2. I'm wondering which comments Amanda is referring to?
    No one should be lambasted for expressing their opinion, and certainly not for saying 'their' opinions are fact. It's just plain rude for a start.

    So I hope it wasn't me.. and if it was.. I apologize. Especial as I have just spent FAR too long defending Henry V, I fear being hit with the accusation of cultural snobbery.
    (In my defense, may I point out I also strongly defended 'cat people'.. hardly the peak of literary culture!)
    So sorry people, I'm going to have to say i really liked this one.. loved to mood, the atmosphere.. all sorts of things. Much more than Zero for conduct.

    1. I don't want to speak for Amanda, but I think she was referring to the posters at the IMDB message boards. They can be pretty ruthless over there, especially if you disagree with them.

    2. I just saw this comment and I was referring to imdv message boards. As for Henry V, I loved it, mostly because I am a big Shakespeare nerd. And go Cat People! That was an awesome film.

    3. You liked Henry V??? And Cat People??? Amanda, get out and stay out!!!

      TOTALLY kidding. Those two films just weren't for me, but to each their own and I'm glad someone was able to find something admirable about them.

      Please keep coming back Amanda, your presence here is greatly appreciated!!!

  3. Amanda.. thank you.
    Thank you for not only taking the time and getting back to us, but for correcting my mis-understandings.
    It was re-assuring to know it was the IMDb boards you meant, and a relief to know it wasn't me
    Also for joining me in liking Henry V.. but especially 'cat people'. (and I hope 'I walked with a zombie')
    It is good to see other people joining in a conversation here, and support Andrew's comment.


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