Kino Eye: School rebellion

Submitted by AWL on 20 April, 2021 - 4:51 Author: John Cunningham
Zero de conduite

The school students’ rebellion at the Pimlico Academy (see Solidarity 587) brings to mind the classic anti-school film Zero de Conduite (Zero for Conduct), made in France and directed by Jean Vigo back in 1933.

Returning to their dreary boarding school after the holidays, four students become increasingly angered by the petty discipline, appalling food, and bullying, obnoxious Headmaster. They stage a protest and the Parents’ Open Day ends in total chaos while the boys make their escape over the rooftops.

Vigo went on to direct only one more film, L’Atalante (1934), a romantic tale of workers on the barges of the Seine, and died of TB, aged only 29, before the film was finished. His father was a well-known anarchist (later socialist) militant Miguel Almereyda, who was found dead in mysterious circumstances in his prison cell in August 1917; some of the school teachers in the film are modelled on the prison guards Vigo encountered when he visited his father. The film was screened only once, to much controversy, and was then instantly banned and not seen again till 1945.

Zero… was one of the inspirations for Lindsay Anderson’s school rebellion film If... in 1968.

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