Wednesday, July 20th: “L’Atalante” at the Portage Theater

Join us this Wednesday, July 20th for L’ATALANTE
The Portage Theater – 4050 N. Milwaukee Ave – 7:30 – $5.00 per ticket

July 20th, 2011
Jean Vigo • 1934
Cinephiles have long bemoaned the early death—at 29, of tuberculosis— of Jean Vigo, but why mourn the infinite possibility of films not made when his only feature, the inexhaustible L’Atalante, suggests infinity itself ? From a slender premise—newlyweds Dita Parlo and Jean Dasté adapt to life on a barge, which they must share with salty sailor Michel Simon and his legion of cats—Vigo fashions a tremendously affecting account of what it means to live with another person. Between the siren call of the radio, the lovely Maurice Jaubert score, the highly eccentric and unaccountable editorial rhythm, and, above all, Simon’s unintelligible grumble of a performance, L’Atalante is a sorry, disreputable excuse for a talkie and the film that most bracingly consolidates the noisy promise of the sound cinema, single-handedly justifying the death of the silents. (Its only competition in that respect, the Fleischer Brothers’ Popeye the Sailor, is also a fitting cousin.) Mutilated by its distributor (while Vigo was dying!) to impossibly evince a more commercial movie, L’Atalante has since been restored and elevated to an uneasy perch in film history, saddled with the responsibility of representing something more than its anarchic and casual self. (KW)
85 min • Gaumont • 35mm

From the collection of the University of Chicago Film Studies Center, Permission Janus
Special thanks to Julia Gibbs and Brian Belovarac

Serial: Daredevils of Red Circle: 30 Seconds to Live (William Witney & John English, 1939) 16mm
Cartoon: Popeye the Sailor: Mutiny Ain’t Nice (Dave Fleischer, 1938) 16mm

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