Zero For Conduct

453. ZERO FOR CONDUCT (1933-France). With JEAN DASTE. Directed, written and edited by JEAN VIGO. This early French sound film, set in a boys’ boarding school and featuring a charming, yet pointed, rebellion against authority, has been a constant staple on critics’ lists Of the ten best films ever made. The scenario details the plight Of a trio Of young boys who instigate a conspiracy against the narrow-minded, dictatorial bureaucrats who run the school; Jean Daste plays a new teacher, a Chaplin-like character who earns the boys’ sympathy. The director, Jean Vigo, admitted that the scenario was autobiographical; he had spent an unhappy childhood in various boarding schools similar to the one depicted here. Vigo died Of leukemia at age 29, a year after the film’s release; he had made just three features and one short, and his death deprived the cinema Of one Of its major young artists. This film remains one Of the best ever made about the manner in which children act and behave among themselves. Interestingly, it was banned by the French censors until after World War II, on the grounds that it was “anti-French” as well as an unwarranted attack on authority and the educational establishment. Vigo combines realism and surreal ism, comedy and fantasy, in a poetic, innovative manner, and with this film he influenced countless future directors from Lindsay Anderson to Francois Truffaut. In French with English subtitles. 43 minutes. Drama