Characterized by Siegfried Kracauer as "the first and last German film that overtly expressed a Communist viewpoint," Kuhle Wampe (1932) is also noteworthy for being the only film on which Bertolt Brecht collaborated from beginning to end, as well as for its controversial censorship in the tumultuous political context of the late Weimar Republic. When set against the background of the 1920 Motion Picture Law and the censorship of two other high-profile films—Sergei Eisenstein's Battleship Potemkin and Lewis Milestone's All Quiet on the Western Front—the political history of Kuhle Wampe highlights the indecisiveness, fragility, and fears of the German Left as the Nazis prepared to take power.
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.