Zero for Conduct (Zero de Conduite) (1933)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

The shortest of French filmmaker Jean Vigo's two feature-length films, Zero for Conduct (Zero de Conduite) is also arguably his most influential. The overtly autobiographical plotline takes place at a painfully strict boys' boarding school, presided over by such petit-bourgeous tyrants as a discipline-dispensing dwarf. The students revolt against the monotony of their daily routine by erupting into a outsized pillow fight. Their final assault occurs during a prim-and-proper school ceremony, wherein the headmasters are bombarded with fruit. Like all of Vigo's works, Zero for Conduct was greeted with outrage by the "right" people. Thanks to pressure from civic and educational groups, this exhilaratingly anarchistic film was banned from public exhibition until 1945. Among the future filmmakers influenced by Zero for Conduct was Lindsay Anderson, who unabashedly used the Vigo film as blueprint for his own anti-establishment exercise If....
Classics , Comedy , Drama
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
Cine Classics


Jean Daste
as Supt. Hugnet
as Principal
Louis Lefebvre
as Caussat
Robert le Flon
as Monitor 'Pete-Sec'
Rava Diligent
as Fireman
Du Veron
as Supt. Dec-de-Gaz
Leon Larive
as Sciences teacher
Mme. Emile
as Mother Haricot
Show More Cast

Critic Reviews for Zero for Conduct (Zero de Conduite)

All Critics (14) | Top Critics (4)

From a modern perspective it seems delightful rather than revolutionary, dangerous and subversive.

June 1, 2006
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Top Critic

Vigo's anarchic, disorienting vision of life in a French boarding school.

Full Review… | February 8, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

These amorphous scenes, strung together by a vague continuity may be art but they are also pretty chaotic.

Full Review… | May 20, 2003
New York Times
Top Critic

A wholly original creation, the film walks a narrow line between surrealist farce and social realism.

Full Review… | December 31, 1999
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

It's surreal and zany anarchistic slapstick, filmed as if Charlie Chaplin was a teacher in the dreaded suburban boys' boarding school.

Full Review… | March 19, 2013
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

a funny, fantastical exaggeration of childhood exuberance and adult idiocy

Full Review… | September 20, 2011
Q Network Film Desk

Audience Reviews for Zero for Conduct (Zero de Conduite)


Boys at a French boarding school stage a revolt in this heavily anarchist, mildly surreal short (45 min.) feature. A playful but slow-moving curiosity, with a dwarf headmaster and some interesting surprises (including trick photography and an unexpected animated sequence). Historically, it's very interesting, but its importance has been exaggerated by the fact that the French government banned it for 13 years!

Greg S
Greg S

Super Reviewer


While some critics complain of Zero de Conduite being filmed chaotic, It's this sense of chaos that portrays the literal chaos in the film. One of the earliest and most influential films about children and anarchy, Zero de Conduite inspired countless Directors and films. The two most notable and acclaimed being The 400 Blows and If...., both of which are masterpieces. Anarchy is at the core of Vigo's beliefs and films, this being the most literal adaptation and one so revolutionary that it was banned until 1945.

Chris Browning
Chris Browning

Super Reviewer


One of the oldest movies about rebellious youngsters. Other than that, it's not a fantastic movie.

Aj V
Aj V

Super Reviewer

Zero for Conduct (Zero de Conduite) Quotes

There are no approved quotes yet for this movie.

Discussion Forum

Discuss Zero for Conduct (Zero de Conduite) on our Movie forum!

News & Features