Zero for Conduct ★★★★

Never expected or knew how truly surreal a film this is, despite being aware of it and its premise for my whole adult life. Of course it's enchanting -- but it's only a ghostly hint of an actual story, serving instead as a dream of just the sort we have when we fall asleep fantasizing about the past. The impossibility of its universally appealing prank, of literally overtaking a stuffy establishment, only makes it seem more immediate and real. And of course I see so many subsequent masterpieces in it from The 400 Blows to A Hard Day's Night (I've yet to see If...), and it's only by comparison to those that Vigo's film -- until its last five astonishing minutes -- seems less immediate. Mostly I wish there was just more of it, but it does seem to end each of its scenes at the opportune moment to keep just the right touch of enigma.

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