"Decades ahead of his time, the film artist Jean Vigo was a one-man nouvelle vague. He was also a visionary who grasped cinema’s potential for embodying his political ideas—as demonstrated by David Weir in his acute and detailed appreciation of Vigo’s multi-faceted oeuvre, the best such to appear in English."
— J. Hoberman, author of Film After Film.
The son of Miguel Almereyda, an anarchist activist who died in prison, Jean Vigo kept faith with the politics of his father through his art. One of the most influential filmmakers in cinema history, Vigo gave aesthetic expression to anarchist ideology in four films: the city symphony À propos de Nice (1930), the sports documentary Taris ou la natation (1931), the medium-length Zéro de conduite (1933), and the feature-length L’Atalante (1934), currently ranked by the British Film Institute as the twelfth greatest film of all time. Although his career was cut short by tuberculosis at the age of 29, Jean Vigo continues to be one of the most commanding figures in the history of cinema.
In this book, David Weir examines Vigo’s cinematic career in both the political and the cultural context of the interwar period in European history, taking stock of the ideological upheavals of the 1930s that plunged the continent into the horrors of fascism and war. Weir also explores Vigo’s relationship to other filmmakers of the period, such as Luis Buñuel, Jean Renoir, and Marcel Carné—all of whom, like Vigo, range across the leftist spectrum of the interwar years. In the end, Weir argues that, whereas L’Atalante and the other films have been mostly restored to something like their original condition, more work needs to be done to restore the original ideological meaning of those films.
Jean Vigo and the Anarchist Eye is NOW AVAILABLE from our online bookstore! Order your copy today at the link above!
DAVID WEIR is professor of comparative literature at the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art. He is the author of Decadence and the Making of Modernism (1995), James Joyce and the Art of Mediation (1996), Anarchy and Culture: The Aesthetic Politics of Modernism (1997), Brahma in the West: William Blake and the Oriental Renaissance (2003), Decadent Culture in the United States: Art and Literature against the American Grain, 1890–1926 (2007), and American Orient: Imagining the East from the Colonial Era through the Twentieth Century (2011).