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Zero for Conduct
(Zéro de conduite: Jeunes diables au collège)

Screening on Film
Directed by Jean Vigo.
With Louis Lefebvre, Gilbert Pruchon, Gérard de Bedarieux.
France, 1933, 35mm, black & white, 44 min.
French with English subtitles.
Print source: HFA

Y is for Youth Gone Wild

Banned by state censors until 1946 for its purportedly malicious attack on the French educational system, Zero for Conduct is certainly one of the masterpieces of the French cinema. Drawn from Vigo’s own childhood experiences, the film is situated at a dreadful boarding school in a Paris suburb where petty restrictions imposed on the students cause four schoolboys to organize a revolt. With its blend of poetry and realism, its psychological depth, and its profound sense of anarchy, Zero for Conduct has exerted an influence on many directors, from François Truffaut and Lindsay Anderson to Philippe Garrel and Leos Carax. One of only four films made during Vigo’s brief career (he died at age 29), Zero for Conduct remains one of the great subversive works of the cinema, an eloquent parable of freedom versus authority.

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