The four films Jean Vigo made between 1930 and 1934 bridged transitions from silent to sound formats and from avant-garde experiments to what he called a social cinema grounded in a documented point of view. This article studies traces of this social cinema in Vigo's 1930 documentary A propos de Nice (Regarding Nice) and his 1934 feature L'Atalante (1934). Links to Parisian surrealism and to leftwing anarchism marked these films as inspiration for postwar filmmakers and critics including André Bazin, François Truffaut, Alain Resnais, and Chris Marker. The government censorship imposed on his Zéro de conduite (Zero for Conduct, 1933) was a test case for similar suppression of postwar films by Resnais, Marker, and René Vautier. Ongoing myths surrounding Vigo and his work persist in the forms of a film prize and research institute, both of which bear his name.
Beyond the Syndrome Syndrome?
Henry Rousso’s The Vichy Syndrome (1987) has changed the way many people think and write about France since 1940. Yet it is likely that the term “syndrome” (from the Greek sundromos or “running together”) in his title remains a provocation because it invokes a pattern of behavior linked to disease and abnormality By extension, it conveyed an implied accusation—perhaps even an indictment—concerning an inability on the part of France as nation and society to confront the nature of the 1940-1944 period. Among historians, debate on the data or evidence that the concept of syndrome might legitimize or even privilege with regard to the writing of history added to questions about what had prompted Rousso to level this critique against colleagues in the discipline.