Further Reading On Latalante

Salles Gomes, P.E. (1972) Jean Vigo (London: Faber & Faber; 2nd edn 1998; first published in French in 1957), 149-94. Warner, Marina (1993) L'Atalante (London: BFI 'Film Classics').


This longer essay was written as a course assignment on what Godard called his last bourgeois film before retreating after the events of May 1968 into work in television as part of a group of film-makers. This film, a companion piece to La Chinoise (1967) is an analysis of consumerism and materialism. The very loose storyline has a materialistic couple, Corinne and Roland, who leave Paris for the weekend plotting to kill Roland's mother so as to inherit a fortune. They lose their car in a crash, manage to kill the mother, and meet a variety of strange characters, including, finally, a group of cannibalistic 'revolutionaries' who live in a forest, whom Corinne joins, eventually eating her husband.

The essay works through a number of illustrations of an over-arching point - the difficulty spectators have in identifying with the characters - through an investigation of mise-en-scène (décor, lighting, intertitles), framing and soundtrack (delivery, diegetic sounds, non-diegetic sounds/music). Unlike the previous essay, this one is particularly good in the way it backs up its points and illustrations with theoretical references, showing that considerable research has gone into its preparation. One might have expected references to standard Film Studies texts written by Bordwell and Thompson, or James Monaco; what is more impressive is the research into Brecht and even the reference to a venerable film manual, showing an inquisitive mind.

Note, too, how the reference system is organised. This is the reference-within-the-text system, often called the Harvard system. It can usefully be compared with the rather more cumbersome reference system used in the following essay, where it is not always clear to the reader what the reference is if it is signalled in notes by an 'op. cit'.

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