#75 Zero for Conduct (1933)

Remember your childhood days being in school and how it felt like a prison? Well, this short film will bring you back to those traumatic years. Jean Vigo‘s French classic Zero for Conduct is about rebellious youth who decide to take a stand against their teachers.

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This film is told from the perspectives of the children so the tone is not exactly dark despite the plot. Instead of school being a place of education, it’s more like an institution that’s all about authority. It’s one of those moments where that Wicked Sister lyric pops into your head of “We’re not gonna take this!” A memorable scene is the pillow fight scene where these kids don’t really care about the consequences of their actions. As the scene plays in slow motion, we see the joy that these kids are having defying authority as the feathers float above their heads. 

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The filmmaker behind this film, Jean Vigo, knows very well from his own experiences of what an institution is like considering his father was in jail himself. The teachers were walking around during recess as if they were guards on the lookout. I was surprised even to see animation sequences as you see a man make a drawing while standing on his head. That’s how you know this is from a child’s perspective and the tone of the film carries through like a surreal dream-like sequence. Like I said before, the consequences are not important to the children and neither to the audience because we want to see the revenge happen. Ever done anything rebellious when you were in school?

Watch Jean Vigo’s masterpiece and comment what you think:

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One thought on “#75 Zero for Conduct (1933)

  1. Pingback: #84 L’Atalante (1934) – 1001 Films in 365 Days

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