Greatest Film Scenes
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Zero de Conduite (1933)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Zéro de Conduite: Jeunes Diables au Collège (1933, Fr.) (aka Zero For Conduct) (short)

In director Jean Vigo's somewhat surreal, semi-autobiographical, satirical account of a rebellion against a rigid and repressive all-male French boarding school - the low-budget work was an influential, anarchic and controversial anti-authoritarian film (considered subversive and banned in France until 1946) that served as the basis for Lindsay Anderson's remake If... (1968, UK):

  • the scene during recess of the school's new, free-spirited, tolerant, carefree jokester teacher Huguet (Jean Dasté) impersonating Chaplin's 'Little Tramp' character for his students, with a cane and trademark shuffling walk
  • in the film's conclusion, a revolt against the school's Commemoration Day celebrations, by four disobedient, rebellious boarding school students, known as "Little Devils at School": Bruel (Coco Golstein), Caussat (Louis Lefebvre), Colin (Gilbert Pruchon), and the shy, long-haired and lonely new boy Tabard (Gérard de Bédarieux - Vigo's alter ego)
  • their full-scale defiant insurrection to take on the tyrannical, bearded, disciplinary-minded dwarf Principal (Delphin), beginning with the ransacking of the dormitory with overturned beds during a wild feather-pillow fight sequence (including a slow-motion celebratory ride through the falling feathers that rained and showered down), and the raising of their own hand-made "Skull and Crossbones" flag
  • the prank of the misfit boys against detested monitor Pète-Sec (Robert le Flon) (nicknamed Dry-Fart) who was tied up as he slept in his uprighted bed, and then barricading of themselves in the attic
  • and then the interruption of the day's ceremonies by their roof-top pelting and barrage of garbage (and other tossed objects) at the assembled guests below, and ending with their escape by marching off across the roof top with their hands in the air


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