Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan


(French, 1934)

This movie is on many critics’ best of all time lists. I’d never seen it before. It is visually stunning, and obviously miles ahead of the sort of thing Hollywood was doing at the time. It happens mostly aboard a river barge with a newlywed couple and a crusty old first mate. It combines surrealism and impressionism, reminds me of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and other German films of the time, and of the films of Sergei Eisenstein. There are two memorable sequences, one involving a manic street entertainer, another with the first mate of the barge Atalante. But the story isn’t very interesting. I couldn’t feel much empathy for any of the characters.