Jean Vigo  

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Jean Vigo (April 26, 1905October 5, 1934) was a short-lived French film director, who helped in the establishment of poetic realism in film in the 1930s and went on to be a posthumous influence on the French nouvelle vague of the late 1950s and early 1960s.

Vigo was born on April 26, 1905, to Emily Clero and the prominent militant anarchist Eugene Bonaventure de Vigo, (who adopted the name Miguel Almereyda - an anagram of "y'a la merde", which translates as "there is shit"). Much of his early life was spent on the run with his parents. His father was strangled in his cell in Fresnes Prison on the night of 13 August 1917. It was believed to have been the doing of the authorities, as Almereyda had earlier that day asked to speak to his lawyer, who was due to see him the following day. The young Vigo was subsequently sent to boarding school under an assumed name, Jean Sales, to conceal his identity.

Vigo was married and had a daughter in 1931. He died of complications from tuberculosis, which he had contracted eight years earlier.

He is noted for two very important films which significantly affected the future development of both French and world cinema: Zéro de conduite (1933) and L'Atalante (1934).

He also made two other films: À propos de Nice (1929), a highly subversive silent film examining social inequity in 1920s Nice and the film Taris, roi de l'eau (1931), an elegant motion study of swimmer Jean Taris.

His films have been depicted by some and certainly by contemporaneous political administrations as being unpatriotic and were consequently heavily censored by the French government. They outlived their critics, though, and L'Atalante was chosen as the 10th-greatest film of all time in Sight & Sound's 1962 poll, and as the 6th-best in its 1992 poll.


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