Saturday, October 01, 2016

A propos de Nice

A propos de Nice. Photo: BFI National Archive, London. Please click to enlarge.

A propos de Nice. Photo: Archivio Carlo Montanaro. Please click to enlarge.

Serata inaugurale / Opening Night
FR 1930. Réalisation: Jean Vigo et Boris Kaufman, prises de vue: Boris Kaufman. 2057 ft /20 fps/ 27 min.
    35 mm print: BFI National Archive, London.
    Le Giornate del Cinema Muto: Eventi speciali / Sinfonie delle città.
    Viewed at Teatro Verdi, Pordenone, no intertitles, grand piano: John Sweeney, 1 Oct 2016.

This screening of Jean Vigo's first film was our act of solidarity to France, hit by a gruesome terrorist strike at Nice on the evening of Quatorze Juillet this year.

Fascinatingly, three Kaufman brothers were active in the area of the city symphony these years: in The Man with the Movie Camera (Denis Kaufman = Dziga Vertov), Vesnoi / Spring (Mikhail Kaufman) - and A propos de Nice (Boris Kaufman as cameraman and co-creator: in the opening credits Vigo and Kaufman share equal billing as film-makers). All films were great and with lasting value.

As a work of cinematography A propos de Nice belongs to the "unchained camera" trend of the 1920s. The camera is everywhere. We see aerial shots, handheld footage, and shots following the rhythm of movement, even waves. There are high angles, low angles and slanted angles. The montage often takes us by surprise.

We see a cross-section of the society from the luxury of the leisure classes to the toil of the washerwomen. There is the world of fun and games, and the bitter world of hard work and the isolation of the lepers. The culmination is a carnival with grotesque views and obscene low angles of ladies dancing the cancan. It all ends with visions of industry: fire, smoke, and metal.

A good print with some variations in the visual quality stemming probably from the source, and a generally beautiful grayscale.

Examples de séquences filmées dans À propos de Nice:
la promenade des Anglais, les palmiers et les chaises louées (disparues)
la Jetée-Promenade (disparue en 1944)
le Palais de la Méditerranée
le Négresco
le cimetière du Château
des cheminées d'usines
Nice vue du ciel
le vieux Nice : les lavandières, les vendeurs de socca
des scènes du carnaval, la « bataille des fleurs »
des visages en gros plans
des filles et des garçons qui dansent
un cireur de chaussures qui tout à coup cire des pieds nus
une jeune femme assise qui soudain devient nue
un prêtre et un enterrement (en accéléré) vue des toits
(Wikipédia L'encyclopédie libre)

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