One of the great classical love stories of cinema. Jean Vigo's L'Atalante follows a young woman (Dita Parlo) who gets married to a barge captain (Jean Daste). As they sail down the river, Juliette, begins to grow tired of being on the ship. She hears of Paris on the radio, and wants to explore the city. The couple also is accompanied on the barge by a cabin boy and second mate. Juliette appears to have lived a rather closeted life and she sets off to Paris to explore the city, leaving the barge captain desperately wishing for his wife's return. L'Atalante is a film that is really impressive for its time. The shot compositions and locations in which they are filmed are impressive, with a particularly underwater sequence being a gorgeously rendered highlight of the film. The other element that makes the film ahead of its time is how well L'Atalante seems to capture the erotic tension that exists throughout. Dita Parlo is fantastic as the naive, sheltered woman who wishes to explore more. She brings a lot of charm and innocence to the screen. This being said, Michael Simon really steals the show as the second mate who sets out to find young Juliette after he sees the stress Jean, his boss and friend, is going through. His character really is a perfect contrast to the naive Juliette, in that he is a rather old beaten up character whom has seen the world. He brings a very odd, off-kilter performance that at first I found a little annoying, but I really warmed up to towards the end of the film. There is some great use of cutting as the two young lovers are separate, and it really does tell the story tremendously well. Jean Vigo's L'Atalante is a fantatsic love story that beautifully crescendos - a classic film which deserves the praise.
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