Jean Durand: Zigoto, 1912

Zigoto promene ses amis
R: Jean Durand. D: Lucien Bataille, Gaston Modot. P: Société des Etablissements L. Gaumont. Fr 1912
Print: Filmmuseum Amsterdam

Zigoto et la blanchisseuse
R: Jean Durand. D: Lucien Bataille, Berthe Dagmar, Édouard Grisollet, Gaston Modot. P: Société des Etablissements L. Gaumont. Fr 1912

“Jean Durand got his start, as did many of the film pioneers, in the café-concerts or music halls of Paris. In 1908, Georges Fagot introduced Durand to Charles Pathé who was constantly recruiting talent from the Parisian stage for his studio, and Durand went to work very briefly at Pathé. He left Pathé for Societé Lux, where he made more than forty films, most of which have been lost. In 1910, Gaumont hired Durand as a replacement for Roméo Bosetti, who had gone to Italy, and he was charged with directing the burlesque Calino series. Durand, it turns out, was a master of burlesque. (…)
Durand went on to create two other very successful burlesque series for Gaumont, the Zigoto series, which ran in 1912, and the Onésime series, which ran from 1912 until 1915 (…). Durand’s burlesque was extremely physical, even more so than Bosetti’s, and to that end he pioneered the uese of stunt people (as things were always getting broken and people hit). His influence was far reaching in later burlesque and slapstick performances like the Keystone Cops or the Marx Brothers.
In about 1910, Durand began working with the Wild West actor/director Joë Hamman. Some of the Westerns were episodes of his burlesque series. (…) These films, at Hamman’s suggesion, were shot in France’s Camargue region, which is somewhat reminiscent of some Wild West landscapes. The Camargue Western was one of the casualties of the war, but Durand’s influence may have ultimately led to the Spaghetti Westerns of later days. (…) Despite his enormous contribution to early film, Durand was ignored by the first generation of film historians and was thus more or less forgotten by film scholars until quite recently. His work has lately been reevaluated.”
Dayna Oscherwitz, Mary Ellen Higgins: The A to Z of French Cinema. Scarecrow Press 2009, p. 148/49

“As Zigoto, comic Lucien Bataille is one of more quietly eccentric denizens of the outrageous European film comedy universe. In some ways his body language and comedic attitude foreshadows Jacques Tati as Zigoto ambles to a decidedly different drummer. Bataille left Gaumont in 1912 and headlined in a new series for Éclair where he was re-dubbed Casimir. He later worked as a character actor in films such as Le Miracle des loup (Miracle of the Wolves 1924) and La Coquille et la clergyman (The Seashell and the Clergyman 1928).”
Steve Massa
cruel and unusual comedy