In this article we will contribute to the contemporary theoretical debate about film by considering, from a history-of-education perspective, the film Zéro de conduite by Jean Vigo (1905–1934). This film is classified under the umbrella of “poetic realism”: a product of cinéma de gauche and an avant-gardist, surrealist and anarchist-catalogued film by a film-maker described by many as very talented and creative. The paper is divided into five parts. In the first part we sketch Vigo’s own biography and the social biography of the film. The second section documents the response to the film both at the time of its release and subsequently. In the third section we explore anarchist ideas about education both in theory and practice. In the fourth section we use this understanding to analyse the film. The final section returns to the question of film as an underused resource and the possibilities of bringing new elements into historical practice.
- Jean Vigo