Though his career was devastatingly brief, Jean Vigo was able to leave behind many unforgettable images that have joined the cinematic pantheon. One of them is undoubtedly Zéro de conduite’s boarding-school insurrectionists in pajamas, whooping it up in slow motion for film’s most epic pillow fight. This remarkably liberating moment is a defining statement from a film artist who himself refused to play by the rules. It’s no surprise, then, that Vigo saw himself as one of the boy rebels. In the following clip from an October 1964 episode of the French television series Cinéastes de notre temps, crew members who worked with Vigo on Zéro de conduite recall the chaotic filming of that legendary sequence, during which, as one of them says, Vigo made himself “part of the gang.”
Now check out the famous scene in question, from Criterion’s recent restoration of Vigo’s film, flying feathers and all.