Francois Truffaut was born in Paris on February 6, 1932. He was one of the most influential directors of French cinema. In addition to his activity as a director, he joined that of film critic, in the editorial office of the Cahier du Cinema. He has also often been the screenwriter, producer and actor of his own films and films of other directors.
Francois Truffaut and the Nouvelle Vague
The activity of Francois Truffaut in cinema covers about 30 years, from the 50s to the 80s, and joins that of other friends-filmmakers of the French cinema such as Jean-Luc Godard, Claude Chabrol, Éric Rohmer and Jacques Rivette.
This group of young people, under the guidance of the critic André Bazin, created the most important cinematographic movement of the history of cinema, La Nouvelle Vague, the new French wave that created new waves in other parts of the world.
Among these countries are also the United States of America and themovement new Hollywood. Scorsese, Coppola, De Palma and other American directors who would become very famous begin their first steps inspired by French Nouvelle Vague.
In all of this, Truffaut plays the role of honor: his is the film that made the new independent French cinema known all over the world. This is The 400 Blows which was a great success at the Cannes Film Festival in 1959.
From that moment on, things changed radically for commercial cinema. Producers, always ready to follow the trends with which to make money, they go in search of new directors of arthouse films.
Truffaut fully reflects the best tradition of French arthouse cinema. A rigorous and emotional director at the same time, as a film critic he did not hesitate to crush the commercial films that were released in those years, proposed by the media and production companies as quality artistic films. They called him the cinema gravedigger.
The Life of Francois Truffaut
Son of Jeanine de Monferrand, a single mother who had conceived him at 18, Francois Truffaut grew up in Paris, with a conflictive family situation that marked him throughout his life. Jeanine did not want a child at all and had attempted to have an abortion. Because of this, the family had sent her to a kind of boarding school for sinners.
The woman was forced to have the child and then found a job as a secretary in an editorial office. There she met her future husband, Roland Truffaut, an architect. Jeanine and was often intolerant and grumpy with Francois, prevented him from moving and making any kind of noise. The only activity Francois could do without disturbing her was reading.
The passion for reading was transmitted to him by his grandmother, who also tried her hand at writing and had written a book against bigotry. Francois was raised by her and continued to spend long periods with his grandmother even as a teenager. The grandmother was a cultured woman, against the tide, completely different from her mother, who introduced him to the classics of French literature.
The figure of a distracted, irascible mother, often busy hanging out with her lovers outside the home, emerges clearly in Francois Truffaut’s first film, The 400 Blows, and returns in some subsequent films. Truffaut will not know for many years that his real biological father is not Roland. He will begin the search only many years later while he is shooting the film Stolen Kisses, hiring a private investigator.
The autobiographical matrix of Truffaut’s cinema, in which his life is mirrored, is also confirmed in this period, where the character of the private investigator appears several times in his films. He will discover that his real father is Roland Lévy, a dentist from a small French provincial town, but will decide not to make contact with him.
During his school years Francois Truffaut is a rebellious boy, intolerant of school rules. The escapes from school to discover Paris are described in an admirable and poetic way in The 400 Blows. He goes from one school to another without being able to integrate into any context. At home he experiences a situation of discomfort where his parents fight constantly.
Luckily she meets Robert Lachenay, a boy with whom she shares the same passions and the same problems, with whom she shares adventures, thefts and afternoons at the cinema. Due to some thefts and his scholastic conduct he is sent to a boarding school from which he manages to escape shortly before the end of the war by finding a job as a warehouse worker.
Truffaut Discovers Cinema
Since seeing film Abel Gance’s Four Flights to Love, Francois Truffaut has become passionate about cinema and founded a film club close to that of film critic Andre Bazin. André Bazin decides to go and meet his little boy competitor. However, his father finds him and hands him over to the police who send him to a reformatory. Andre Bazin helps him get out of the institute. Truffaut finds work as a laborer and falls in love with a girl who does not reciprocate his feelings.
Desperate for love disappointment, he enlisted for the war in Indochina. However, military life soon became unbearable: he deserted and was again guilty of a crime. Bazin helps him again by advising him on how to get out of trouble, acting as his tutor and father figure. He makes it known to some newsrooms that deal with cinema, with which Francois begins to collaborate.
He found him a job at the French Ministry of Agriculture and hosted him at his home in Bry-sur-Marne. Then he hires him as a film critic in the editorial staff of Cahiers du cinema, a recently created magazine. In the editorial office he meets other young film critics, future directors: Claude Chabrol, Jacques Rivette, Jacques Demy, Éric Rohmer, Jean-Luc Godard.
Le Cahiers du Cinema
In 1953 he wrote the famous article A certain trend of French film, a merciless criticism of the films that were released at that time in France, openly affirming what many directors think in silence. Historically, the publication of Truffaut’s article coincides with the beginning of the Nouvelle Vague movement. The following year he made his first film, the short film Les mistons,and writes the script Breathless by Jean-Luc Godard.
He dedicates himself to writing short stories in the magazine Le parisien. In the cinema he practices as assistant director of Roberto Rossellini. Meanwhile, he continues his journalistic activity by interviewing Alfred Hitchcock. After finding the novel Jules and Jim by chance on a stall, he becomes a great friend of its author, Henri-Pierre Roché. Later he will make two films of his literary works by him.
Francois Truffaut interview Hitchcock
Truffaut was a great admirer of the cinema of Alfred Hitchcock At that time it was only considered entertainment. Together with his other Cahier du Cinema colleagues such ashad the merit Claude Chabrol, he of re-evaluating the work of the thriller master, to the point of making him considered a director of arthouse films.
Over the years Truffaut has interviewed Hitchcock many times. A series of interviews that start from the cinematographic technique to reveal the interesting and complex personality of the American director. The fruit of this series of interviews and the book Cinema according to Hitchcock.
Truffaut’s Reflections on Cinema
Here are some interesting reflections of the director on cinema and the technical and artistic aspects of his work, more mysterious links that are created between cinema and the life of a movie director. Very precious thoughts and ideas, both for those involved in cinema and for those who watch it as a spectator.
“There is, in the very idea of the cinematographic show, a promise of pleasure, an idea of exaltation that contradicts the movement of life, that is the descending slope: degradation, aging and death. I
summarize and simplify: the show is something that grows , life something that descends and, if you accept this vision of things, it will be said that the show, contrary to journalism, fulfills a mission of lies, but that the greatest showmen are those who manage not to fall into lies and who make the public accept their truth, without however violating the fundamental law of the spectacle.
These make them accept their truth and also their madness, because we must not forget that an artist must impose his own particular madness on an audience less mad than himself or whose madness is different. “
Cinema as the Art of Prose
” For me, cinema is an art of prose. Definitely. It is a matter of filming beauty without having the ria. I care enormously about this, and that’s why I can’t take the hook of Antonioni, too indecent. Poetry exasperates me, and when someone sends me poems in letters, I trash them immediately.
I love poetic prose, Cocteau, Audiberti, Genêt and Queneau, but only prose. I love cinema because it is prosaic, it is an indirect, unacknowledged art, it hides at the very moment it shows. The filmmakers I love all have a modesty in common that makes them similar at least on this point.
Buñuel who refuses to shoot the same shot twice, Welles who shortens the “beautiful” shots until they are illegible, Bergman and Godard who work at full speed so as not to give importance to what they do, Rohmer who imitates the documentary, Hitchcock so emotional as to seem to think only of money, Renoir pretending to rely on chance, all instinctively reject the poetic attitude. “
” I don’t know if I’m reactionary, but I don’t agree with the critical tendency which consists in saying: «After such a film, we will no longer bear to see well-connected stories, etc.». While I love such new films as Two or Three Things I Know About Her, Barrier, The Man Isn’t a Bird and others, I believe that if The Ambersons ‘Splendor, The Golden Carriage or The Red River came now, in the’ 67, would be the best films of the year.
So, I am determined to continue the same cinema which consists of both telling a story and pretending to tell a story, it’s the same thing. After all, I’m not modern, and if I pretended to be, it would be artificial. In any case, I wouldn’t be happy with that, which is reason enough not to. “
The Movies and the Audience
” The show, the language, my movies are circus performances, that’s what I want them to be. I would never show two elephants acting from start to finish. After the elephants comes the magician; after the magician, the bear. I also set up an interval towards the sixth reel because it can happen that people are a little tired. On the seventh reel I pick up the situation and try to conclude with the best things about the show.
I think it is necessary to think about the public. I no longer believe that idea that once seduced me – it was Otto Preminger who told me in an interview and other filmmakers say it too – according to which there is no problem with the public: “If I like something, I know it will like it. to the public”. That’s not true, it’s more complicated than that and, at the moment, I think the opposite.
I believe that an idea that an artist likes, by definition, must be displeased to the public. Because? Because the artist is someone outside of society, and addresses society. So, it is a question of imposing one’s originality on people, and not of going towards their banality; yes, things must be said as they are.
Currently, I strongly believe in the work of imposing one’s originality. It is a work of persuasion and the company becomes a match with the people. I feel this every time I see one of my films in public. I feel that this idea scandalizes and that the next one passes, that the next one scandalizes, etc. “
Creating Emotions With Images
” I love this aspect very much, despite everything that may seem obnoxious, that is the calculation, possibly the cunning, it seems to me that this is part of our work.
You have to know what you want to achieve and, above all, don’t want to achieve but one thing at a time. It’s about creating emotions. So, in front of each shot, let’s pause to reflect: how to create this emotion? Anything that enters the film, the scene or the frame, and which does not answer this question, becomes a parasitic element that must be rejected.
We work in an area that is both literary, musical, and plastic; we must relentlessly simplify to the extreme. The film is a boat that only asks to sink, it is never something that grows and progresses; I assure you that it is something that goes to the bottom and that inexorably degrades. If you ignore this law, you are fried. “
The Non-Cinephile Audience
” The other day I saw North by Northwest and half an hour before the end I heard a man behind me say to his neighbor: “It’s not a bad movie”; it is an extraordinary phrase because it reveals the mentality of occasional spectators, not cinephiles; a film is nothing but jelly after all! That fellow was a difficult, skeptical viewer and said, “It’s not a bad movie” and I was happy for Hitchcock.
This film, North by Northwest, lasts two hours, half of the floors are made up in the laboratory or in the filming phase, there are mattes, amazing virtuosities, a love of the craft and an extraordinary science. It’s a completely personal, intimate film, Hitchcock’s obsessions, his quests, but that good man, who had walked in there by accident, had to follow, had been hooked.
It’s a good thing. For me, this is cinema. I believe in this kind of match. You have immense responsibilities. I also believe that one enters the cinema by chance and that there should no longer be categories of spectators; that the warned spectator, the one who sees a hundred films a year, the cinephile finds more things than the one who goes to the cinema once a year, is normal, but the film must appear externally in the same way for both of them. “
Hitchcock and Renoir: Different Ideas of Cinema
I admire in Hitchcock the answers to the question: how to make oneself understood? I like this way of multiplying events, of breaking up difficulties in order to solve them one by one, this extreme stylization of the image. one thing to show, therefore it is necessary to remove everything that bothers around.
Often Hitchcock’s work contradicts Renoir but I aspire to a form that will be the synthesis of the two. In the course of a scene, Renoir sacrifices everything to the comfort of the actors. Well, Renoir thinks, if the actors are more happy to be seated on the staircase, they will be made to sit on the staircase, if they want to eat an apple, they will be given an apple and this comfort which he favors is a comfort of The moment is a convenience of all the space around the camera, and in front of it there is a condition, it is necessary that the actors feel at ease to interpret the scene with the maximum of reality.
Hitchcock is the other way around. We want to keep this well-defined portion of space on the screen. We have around 140 technicians, a staircase, three windows, a crane, some projectors, but the public will only see the portion of the image that I, Hitchcock, need to integrate it into the succession of shots.
For this portion of the image to have the maximum effectiveness, perhaps the male interpreter must be crouched on a stool and the girl he embraces must be suspended by her feet from a winch connected to the ceiling of the studio, or I don’t know what other … Aren’t they happy?
Hitchcock doesn’t even want to know. What matters is what will be in the image. The visual effect to be obtained – often first drawn on paper – will be obtained at whatever cost. Here is a cinema which is obviously the opposite of Renoir’s; is a more logical cinema than Renoir’s because actually what the spectators will see in the room is just this small rectangle and this small selected space that are the object of so much attention by Hitchcock, who, in spite of an unreality total in the shooting phase, it reaches the maximum effectiveness, the maximum effect on the whole room, in the whole world, at the same time.
I find this courage formidable in Hitchcock, because it takes courage to do unreal things during filming… It’s amazing to know at that point: a) what you want to achieve, b) how to get it, that you are right and hold on. And this applies to everything. “
Renoir is proof that you can do everything in the cinema on condition that you approach things with frankness and simplicity. It is said of him that he is a family filmmaker, but he has also done very lyrical things, a lot delusional who succeeded him thanks to his spirit of simplicity, his humility. I know all of Renoir’s films by heart and I always guess how and why he did things.
When I have difficulties in my films, I solve them by thinking about him. I have often helped actors find the right tone for a scene by reflecting on how Renoir would have made it play.
I have an idea, if you like, which is as interesting as all ideas, a little crazy too, like any ideas too theoretical, and that is that there is a possible reconciliation between Renoir and Hitchcock, between the end of the film the characters that Renoir, and the extreme situations of the film that Hitchcock.
On both sides there are of the drawbacks; I believe in Hit shock these should be sought on the side of realism, of humanity; and in Renoir, in the weakness of certain situations. I believe in a mixture. “
The New Wave
I believe there are two types of cinema, one that descends from Lumière and the other by Delluc. Lumière invented cinema to film nature or action. Delluc, who was a writer and critic, thought that this invention could be used to film ideas, or actions, which had a meaning other than the obvious one, and thus, possibly, to get closer to the other arts.
The result is that we have Griffith, Chaplin, Stroheim, Flaherty, Gance, Vigo, Renoir, Rossellini (and closer to us Godard) in the Lumière field; and Epstein, L’Herbier, Feyder, Grémillon, Huston, Bardem, Astruc, Antonioni (and closer to us Resnais) in the Delluc field. For the first group, cinema is essentially a show, for the second it is a language. The critics, incidentally, are increasingly sympathetic to the Delluc group, and it is understandable since Louis Delluc is their patron.
I’m trying to say that the first group makes films with a kind of spontaneous or recreated innocence – trains arriving at the station, children eating, the sprinkler watered – while the second deals, more deliberately and intellectually, with moral conflicts, with characters who do not look at us as they speak. I’m simplifying, of course, but not too much.
This distinction has become less true since the appearance of the New Wave, because people like Agnès Varda, Doniol-Valcroze, Chabrol are playing a kind of double game: Lumière-Delluc.
But the New Wave has been so criticized for its excessively literary aspect that I think it is fair to distinguish two major tendencies within it: a) the Sagan tendency: it tries to be more explicit on issues relating to sex and love; prefers portraits of artists or intellectuals; cultured, wealthy and apparently lacking in cordiality. A few titles: I cousins (Chabrol), La Proie pour l’ombre (Astruc), La récréation (Moreuil), Les mauvais coups (Leterrier), Les grandes personnes (Valère), Ce soir ou jamais (Deville).
b) The Queneau trend: tries to explore a daily vocabulary; he prefers unexpected and comic encounters between people who generally belong to the working class or who are just outside it; he has a taste for mixed genres and changes of tone; a sort of “pink and black” tenderness. Some titles: Zazie in the metro (Malle), Un couple (Mocky) (of course!), But also Easy women (Chabrol), Pull up on the pianist (Truffaut), Lola (Demy), La donna è donna (Godard), Desideri in the sun (Rozier). “
” I think the starting point is different every time. I think in relation to cinema and I believe that the point in common between my different films is the result of reflections on other existing films and also on those that I have made. “
” It is easier for me to write an original screenplay, unless I have chosen a sufficient number of ideas on the subject in mind, but I have less difficulty inventing a screenplay than adapting a book. In the shooting phase, it is exactly the opposite. Let’s say, you don’t encounter the same difficulties. On the other hand, I couldn’t just shoot original scripts, because I’m too realistic.
I realized that I can’t invent anything violent, because I don’t have the courage. I don’t dare introduce a revolver, a rifle into the film, I don’t dare imagine a suicide, a death. So I stay in the newspaper if I write a screenplay alone or with a friend. However these exceptional things, I love to see them in movies and I like to film them if I have already found them written.
That’s kind of what happened with Jules and Jim. Scenes like that of the car falling into the water, in the end, or even the crematorium I would never have dared to invent by myself. “
” What exactly is staging? It is the set of decisions taken during the preparation, shooting and editing of a film. I believe that all the choices offered to a director (choice of subject, ellipses, places, actors, collaborators, angles, objectives, shots to do, noises, music) lead him to decide, and what is called directing is evidently the common direction towards which the thousands of decisions taken during these six, nine, twelve or sixteen months of work tend.
For this reason “partial” directors, those who deal with only one stage, even if they are rich in talent, interest me less than Bergman, Buñuel, Hitchcock, Welles who are totally in their films. “
” After a screenplay, Jean -Louis Richard and I, we always have the impression that it is very clear, logical and unambiguous. Then, during the shooting, something subversive creeps into the work, already in the choice of the actors … I sense that the shooting is not necessarily the continuation of the writing. By filming I no longer want to shake the audience, nor dominate them, nor put their backs to the wall, I no longer feel the imperative desire to be effective.
It is a curious and compelling fact. Let’s not forget that in forty films, Renoir has never been able to film someone who was hateful; even the big Dalban in Toni is delightful when he talks about his woman.
So I believe that this spirit presides over the European way of making cinema, and that is why we will always be far from Hollywood even if we always peek that way. During the shooting we feel very strongly a feeling that can be expressed as follows: let’s not give it to the public to drink, let’s not try to hide that we are going to shoot a film. “
Filming on a Soundstage
I have never shot in a drama theater . It is not a question of principle: economics and aesthetics at the same time, because in order to have in the studio the equivalent of what I have found so far in natural environments, it would be necessary to have sums not conceivable in the French estimates. that gave me the authentic chalet of Jules and Jim can not be assessed in the study estimates.
Apart from the inability to go with a single shot from the outside in, from the ground floor to the first floor, the study would have been deprived of random surprises, like the fog sequence. The other day they called me from Burt Lancaster’s production, The Train, and asked me how we got the fog in Jules and Jim. I told them to go to Alsace. They are coincidences and the coincidences must be deserved. “
” After all, I arrived at the cinema through the dialogues: I learned them by heart. I knew everyone from The Crow, everyone from Prévert and everyone from Renoir. Only later did I hear about “staging” from Rivette. The instinct was to get drunk on movies to know the soundtrack by heart, dialogue and music. This is why I disagree with the opponents of dubbing.
I can quote Johnny Guitar, who is probably of greater importance in my life than in that of its author Nicholas Ray. Well, I almost like the dubbed version of Johnny Guitar more than the original version, and I can also tell you that certain things about the Pianist, for example, are influenced by the tone of Johnny Guitar’s dub: “Play something on it, Mr. Guitar …”.
“Adopting a particular style, outside the needs of the subject, is the defect par excellence. I never really knew what a” style “is, nor what style is. The form of a film presents itself to my spirit at the same time than the idea of the film; if I think I have to film a couple kissing I don’t ask myself a month before: will they kiss in the sun or in the rain.
No, it’s already all in my head when the idea comes to me, complete : they will kiss … in the rain … it will be time to leave the office … people will pass in front of them and behind them … they will feel their teeth colliding … his scarf will look like a tea towel, etc … Free to do the opposite. last moment: sun, no one on the street … but if I hadn’t visualized the scene immediately, I would have discarded it from the script.
The work of cinema is so particular that there is no pleasure in talking about cinema with literati or often with reporters. I like talking to Rivette, Aurel, Hitchcock obviously, but I think a guy like Robbe-Grillet doesn’t understand anything yet, so far I mean. I never go to lunches so as not to have to answer questions about cinema. “
Francois Truffaut’s Films
In 1957 he founded his production house Les films du carrosse. The name is a tribute tofilm Jean Renoir’s La carosse d’or. He shoots another melancholy and poetic short film inspired by his sentimental vicissitudes: Les mistons.
He marries Madeleine, they have two children, but the marriage lasts only a few years. In fact, Truffaut will prove to be a real compulsive seducer who goes from one love at first sight to another, falling in love with practically all of his actresses.
A Visit (1954)
“A visit” is a short film from 1954 directed by François Truffaut. This film is one of the early works of the young director and serves as an example of his emerging talent in auteur cinema.
In the short film “Une visite” from 1954, a young man seeks a room to rent by responding to a newspaper advertisement. After making a phone call, he arrives at the specified apartment with a suitcase in hand. However, upon arrival, he realizes that the apartment is already inhabited by a young woman.
“A visit” is a brief yet significant demonstration of Truffaut’s sensitivity and ability to explore human relationships even in short works. This film marks one of the initial steps in the director’s career, as he would go on to create many other masterpieces throughout his career.
The Mischief Makers (1957)
“The Mischief Makers” is a 1957 film directed by François Truffaut. This short film is one of the early significant works by the director and serves as an early example of his talent in auteur cinema.
The plot follows a group of adolescent boys who observe a young adult couple in love. The boys, known as “les mistons” (which can be translated as “the troublemakers” or “the little mischief-makers”), become obsessed with the couple and begin to engage in small acts of disruption in their relationship.
“The Mischief Makers” is a work that explores the theme of adolescent curiosity and the discovery of sexuality in a gentle yet incisive manner. This short film represents one of the early steps in Truffaut’s remarkable career, as he would go on to create numerous masterpieces over the years.
A Story of Water (1958)
“A Story of Water” is a short film from 1958 directed by François Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard. This short film is known for having initially been started by Truffaut but then completed by Godard.
The young protagonist, a university student living outside Paris, finds herself having to attend classes at the Sorbonne on the day of a flood. To reach the city, she must cross the countryside on a boat and then take to the road to hitchhike. During her journey, she manages to get a ride from a young driver, but it seems that his sole interest is talking about his car.
The 400 Blows (1959)
In 1959 he made his first feature film The 400 Blows, a great success at the Cannes Film Festival. It is the film that together with Jean-Luc Godard’s A bout de souffle makes the French Nouvelle Vague famous all over the world.
It is an almost totally autobiographical film in which Truffaut recounts his difficult and turbulent adolescence in Paris. The small house where the protagonist Antoine Doinel sleeps in the hallway of the entrance, the difficult relationship with his mother who accidentally surprises on the street with one of her lovers, the thefts, the search for a freedom that seems impossible, the experience at the reformatory.
The 400 Blows is a deeply authentic and moving film in which Francois Truffaut gets completely naked. To play his alter ego Antoine Doinel calls a 13-year-old boy Jean Pierre Leaud, found by chance with an ad for the audition of the film on France Soir.
Jean-Pierre is very similar in life to the protagonist of the film: a boy intolerant and rebellious to the rules of a society he cannot understand. There isn’t much distance between Antoine Doinel’s character and the aspiring little actor who will play him.
It is the beginning of a long collaboration that will last many films, the so-called Antoine Doinel film cycle. Truffaut invents this little boy character and follows him in his growth until maturity, using him as a cinematic mirror of his life experiences. Jean Pierre Leaud will always play Antoine Doinel over time.
Shoot the Piano Player (1960)
“Shoot the Piano Player” is a 1960 film directed by François Truffaut. This is one of his most iconic works in the realm of auteur cinema. The film is based on David Goodis’ novel and represents a fascinating blend of noir elements, drama, and romance.
The plot revolves around Charlie Kohler, a bar pianist who hides under an alias to escape his criminal past. When his brother gets involved in serious trouble with the underworld, Charlie finds himself entangled in a series of events that will confront him with the demons of his past and force him to make tough choices.
The film is renowned for its non-linear storytelling and creative use of black-and-white cinematography. Truffaut skillfully blends moments of tension and humor, creating a unique and engaging atmosphere. The title “Shoot the Piano Player” already suggests an element of danger and intrigue, which manifests in various ways throughout the film.
Antoine and Colette (1962)
“Antoine and Colette” is a 1962 short film directed by François Truffaut. It is part of the film series which follows the life of young Antoine Doinel, portrayed by Jean-Pierre Léaud.
In the short film, Antoine has moved to Paris and started working. During an evening at the theater, he meets Colette, played by Marie-France Pisier, and falls deeply in love with her. However, Colette sees him only as a friend and is not interested in a romantic relationship.
The short explores the challenges of unrequited love and the angst of adolescence. It represents a significant chapter in the life of Antoine Doinel, who would go on to be the protagonist of many other films directed by Truffaut.
The Soft Skin (1964)
“The Soft Skin” is a 1964 film directed by François Truffaut. This film stands as a significant work in the realm of auteur cinema. The story follows the life of Pierre Lachenay, a famous French writer and lecturer, and his involvement in an extramarital affair.
Pierre is a successful man with a family, but when he meets Nicole, an air hostess, he begins a secret relationship with her. The film explores Pierre’s inner conflicts as he tries to balance his personal and professional life with this newfound passion. The story is a raw portrayal of the complexities of love and the choices it entails.
“The Soft Skin” is known for its sophisticated directorial style and acute character analysis. The cinematography is captivating, capturing the beauty and charm of 1960s France.
This film offers a profound reflection on human relationships and the consequences of the choices we make in life. If you’re a fan of auteur cinema and are looking for a film that explores the complexity of human relationships, “The Soft Skin” is a must-watch title.
Jules and Jim (1965)
Thanks to the success of his first film Francois Truffaut can also afford to be a producer, financing the shooting of The Testament of Orpheus, by Jean Cocteau. The director’s popularity increased in 1965 with the film Jules and Jim.
Based on the novel of the same name by Henri-Pierre Roché, the film tells a story of friendship, love, and romantic triangles set in 20th-century Europe, particularly during and after World War I.
The plot revolves around Jules, Jim, and Catherine. Jules and Jim are inseparable friends with a strong bond. However, their friendship is tested when they meet Catherine, a lively and captivating woman. Both fall in love with her, initiating a complex romantic triangle. The story follows their lives through the decades as they navigate emotional challenges, social changes, and the torments of passion.
“Jules and Jim” is known for its innovative storytelling, which includes the use of vintage photographs and an evocative soundtrack. The film delves deeply into themes of friendship, love, and individual freedom in a turbulent historical context.
Fahrenheit 451 (1966)
“Fahrenheit 451” is a 1966 film directed by François Truffaut. The film is based on Ray Bradbury’s dystopian novel and stands as a significant cinematic work that explores themes of censorship, knowledge control, and freedom of thought.
The story is set in a totalitarian future where books are banned and burned to prevent the spread of independent and dangerous ideas. The protagonist, Guy Montag, is a firefighter tasked with burning illegal books. However, when he encounters a rebellious young woman who loves literature, his life is upheaved, leading him to question the oppressive regime in which he lives.
The title of the film, “Fahrenheit 451,” refers to the temperature at which paper books ignite. The film boldly addresses the implications of censorship and the loss of freedom of expression.
The Bride Wore Black (1967)
“The Bride Wore Black” is a 1967 film directed by the renowned French filmmaker François Truffaut. This film represents another notable contribution by the director to auteur cinema. The plot revolves around Julie Kohler, portrayed by Jeanne Moreau, a determined and mysterious woman seeking revenge for her husband’s death on their wedding day.
After the tragic loss, Julie embarks on an intricate plan to kill the five men responsible for her husband’s death. The film explores the theme of vengeance in a complex manner and features an outstanding performance by Jeanne Moreau.
“The Bride Wore Black” is a cinematic work that blends elements of suspense and drama, keeping the viewer on the edge of their seat as Julie seeks to carry out her vendetta. The title itself suggests a mysterious atmosphere and a sense of determination.
Stolen Kisses (1968)
“Stolen Kisses” is a 1968 film directed by François Truffaut. This film is a continuation of the adventures of the character Antoine Doinel, portrayed by Jean-Pierre Léaud, who had been introduced previously in the films “The 400 Blows” and “Love at Twenty.”
The plot of “Stolen Kisses” follows Antoine as he tries to find his place in adult life. After being discharged from the army, he finds work as a private detective but soon discovers that it’s not a suitable profession for him. Meanwhile, he experiences a series of romantic relationships and attempts to figure out what it means to be an adult in the complicated and chaotic world of the 1960s.
The film is known for its light-hearted tone and humorous take on everyday life. Truffaut explores the character of Antoine with empathy, creating a captivating portrait of a young man searching for his identity.
Mississippi Mermaid (1969)
“Mississippi Mermaid” is a 1969 film directed by François Truffaut. This film, based on the novel by Cornell Woolrich, is a captivating story of love and mystery. The original title, “Mississippi Mermaid,” evokes the mysterious and sensual atmosphere of the film.
The plot follows the story of Louis Mahe, portrayed by Jean-Paul Belmondo, a businessman who begins a relationship with a captivating woman named Julie, played by Catherine Deneuve. However, when he discovers that Julie may not be who she claims to be and that she is hiding dark secrets, his life is turned upside down.
The film explores themes of identity, love, and betrayal in a compelling manner. Truffaut manages to create a suspenseful atmosphere as the plot unfolds and reveals the mysteries surrounding the character of Julie.
The Wild Child (1970)
“The Wild Child” is a 1970 film directed by François Truffaut. This film is based on a true story and stands as one of Truffaut’s significant contributions to auteur cinema. The story is based on the life of Victor of Aveyron, a wild boy discovered in France in the late 18th century, who became a case study for the physician Jean-Marc Gaspard Itard.
The plot follows Dr. Itard, portrayed by Truffaut himself, as he attempts to educate and civilize the young Victor, who grew up without any human contact and developed feral behaviors. The film explores the challenges and complexities of educating Victor, as well as the evolving relationship between him and his mentor.
“The Wild Child” addresses profound themes related to human nature, education, and society. Truffaut offers a delicate and touching narrative, highlighting the innate desire for connection and learning.
Bed and Board (1970)
“Bed and Board” is a 1970 film directed by François Truffaut. This film is part of the series of movies depicting the life of the character Antoine Doinel, portrayed by Jean-Pierre Léaud, which began with “The 400 Blows” and continued with “Love at Twenty” and “Stolen Kisses.”
The plot follows the experiences of Antoine Doinel as he faces the challenges of married life. After marrying Christine, played by Claude Jade, Antoine enters a new phase of his adult life. The film explores the dynamics of married relationships, the conflicts, and the joys that come with married life.
Like the other films in the series, “Bed and Board” is known for its light-hearted and humorous tone, with Truffaut continuing to explore the character of Antoine in an affectionate and ironic manner.
If you’re a fan of the Antoine Doinel series and auteur cinema, “Bed and Board” is another intriguing chapter to discover.
Two English Girls (1971)
“Two English Girls” is a 1971 film directed by François Truffaut. This film is an adaptation of the novel “Les Deux Anglaises et le Continent” by Henri-Pierre Roché and is another example of Truffaut’s talent for telling complex love stories.
The plot follows the story of Claude Roc, portrayed by Jean-Pierre Léaud, a young Frenchman who meets two English sisters, Anne and Muriel, during a stay in England. Claude falls in love with both sisters but ultimately marries Muriel, played by Stacey Tendeter. The story follows the ups and downs of their relationship and the impact it has on Claude’s life.
The film explores themes of love, desire, and sacrifice in a sensitive manner. Truffaut addresses the complexities of human relationships with his customary empathy and introspection.
“Two English Girls” is a cinematic work that offers a profound reflection on life choices and romantic passions. If you’re a fan of auteur cinema and engaging love stories, this film is a title you should consider watching.
Such a Gorgeous Kid Like Me (1972)
“Such a Gorgeous Kid Like Me” is a 1972 film directed by François Truffaut. This film represents another foray by the director into auteur cinema, known for its distinctive style and its ability to explore human complexities.
The plot follows the story of Bernadette Lafont, portrayed by Bernadette Lafont, a young woman who has been involved in a series of murders. The film explores her life through flashbacks and testimonies as she seeks to prove her innocence. The plot questions her guilt and the motivations behind her crimes.
“Such a Gorgeous Kid Like Me” is a film that intriguingly explores the themes of guilt and innocence. Truffaut uses non-linear narration to create a mosaic of stories and perspectives that shed light on the mysteries of the protagonist.
Day for Night (1973)
“Day for Night” is a 1973 film directed by François Truffaut. This film is an affectionate ode to the world of cinema, offering a behind-the-scenes look at film productions. The original title, “Day for Night,” refers to the cinematic process of shooting night scenes during the day, unveiling the “magic” side of filmmaking.
The plot follows the making of a film, highlighting the complexities and quirks of the creative process. The director of the film within the film is portrayed by Truffaut himself, and the cast includes actors like Jacqueline Bisset and Jean-Pierre Léaud. The film depicts the dynamics among the actors, the scripts, the technicians, and the challenges that arise during film production.
“Day for Night” is a heartfelt homage to cinema and offers an entertaining and touching look into the lives of filmmakers and actors. The film captures the passion and allure of the seventh art while also revealing the tensions and dramas behind the scenes.
This film is a landmark in auteur cinema and provides a unique and engaging insight into the world of filmmaking. If you’re a cinephile, “Day for Night” is a title you shouldn’t miss.
The Story of Adèle H. (1975)
“The Story of Adèle H.” is a 1975 film directed by François Truffaut. This film is based on the true story of Adèle Hugo, the daughter of the famous writer Victor Hugo, and it is a powerful exploration of obsessive love and loneliness.
The plot follows the life of Adèle Hugo, portrayed by Isabelle Adjani, as she lives in exile in Halifax, Canada, in search of her lost lover, Lieutenant Pinson. Adèle is consumed by her love for him and embarks on a tormented and painful journey to win him back, despite his rejection.
The film explores themes of passionate love, loneliness, and desire intensely. Isabelle Adjani’s performance in the role of Adèle is extraordinary and earned her an Oscar nomination.
Small Change (1976)
“Small Change” is a 1976 film directed by François Truffaut. This film is a tender and affectionate exploration of childhood and the experiences of children in a small French town.
The plot follows a series of vignettes that depict the daily life of various children, each with their own challenges, friendships, and adventures. The film offers a sincere and touching look at how children navigate the world, from school to family relationships and imaginary friends.
Truffaut sensitively captures the innocence and curiosity of children, creating a captivating portrait of the small joys and sorrows of childhood.
“Small Change” is a film that celebrates humanity and offers an affectionate view of children’s experiences. If you’re interested in auteur cinema and stories that touch the heart, this film is a wonderful choice to consider.
The Man Who Loved Women (1977)
“The Man Who Loved Women” is a 1977 film directed by François Truffaut. This romantic comedy is an affectionate reflection on the various relationships a man has with women in his life.
The plot follows the life of Bertrand Morane, portrayed by Charles Denner, a man fascinated by women and their beauty. The film tells of his numerous love affairs and romantic encounters, highlighting his desire to capture feminine perfection.
Truffaut explores the complexities of human relationships and the challenges of love through the character of Bertrand. The film offers a humorous and tender observation of gender dynamics.
The Green Room (1978)
“The Green Room” is a 1978 film directed by François Truffaut. This film is based on the autobiographical novel by Henry James and represents another foray by Truffaut into auteur cinema, known for its ability to explore the complexities of human relationships.
The plot follows the story of Julien Davenne, portrayed by Truffaut himself, a French theater director who is grappling with the death of his beloved wife. After her death, Julien seeks solace in relationships with other women and reflects on his past and present life.
The film delves into themes of grief, love, and identity in a deep and reflective manner. Truffaut delivers a touching performance in the role of Julien, while the film contemplates the ephemeral nature of love and human connections.
Love On The Run (1979)
After seven years, Antoine and Christine divorce, while remaining good friends. Antoine is in a relationship with Christine’s friend Liliane, has published an autobiography about his loves and finds work as a proofreader and also begins a cheerful, if tumultuous relationship, with Sabine, a saleswoman in a record store.
With Love On The Run, Truffaut concludes a unique project in the history of cinema. He shoots five films over the course of twenty years following the growth of a single character, Antoine Doinel, always played by the same actor Jean-Pierre Léaud. Love flees is the last film in the cycle, the film that takes stock of all previous adventures.
The Last Metro (1980)
“The Last Metro” is a 1980 film directed by François Truffaut. This film is set during the Nazi occupation of Paris in World War II and is a dramatic tale of love and survival.
The plot follows the events of a Parisian theater managed by Lucas Steiner, portrayed by Heinz Bennent, a Jewish director who has gone into hiding to escape Nazi persecution. His wife Marion Steiner, played by Catherine Deneuve, runs the theater in his absence and begins to develop a relationship with an actor, portrayed by Gérard Depardieu.
The film explores the tensions and fears of the era but is also a story of love, sacrifice, and a passion for the theater. Truffaut creates an intense human drama set against the historical backdrop of a dark time.
“The Last Metro” is a masterpiece by Truffaut and offers an extraordinary portrayal of the redemptive power of art and love in times of war. If you’re a fan of auteur cinema and intense, dramatic stories, this film is an unmissable title.
The Woman Next Door (1981)
“The Woman Next Door” is a 1981 film directed by François Truffaut. This film is an intense and dramatic story of love passions and conflicts.
The plot follows the lives of Mathilde Bauchard, portrayed by Fanny Ardant, and Bernard Coudray, played by Gérard Depardieu, former lovers who reunite years later when both are married to other people. Their encounter reignites an uncontrollable and complex passion that tests their existing relationships.
The film explores themes of love, obsession, and regrets in a compelling manner. Truffaut offers an intense and engaging narrative, while the two leads bring extraordinary chemistry to the screen.
Confidentially Yours (1983)
“Confidentially Yours” is a 1983 film directed by François Truffaut. This film marks a return to thriller and mystery atmospheres for the director, known primarily for auteur cinema and love stories.
The plot follows the story of Julien Vercel, portrayed by Fanny Ardant, a man wrongly accused of murder. The film unfolds over the course of a day as Julien tries to prove his innocence with the help of his secretary, played by Jean-Louis Trintignant.
“Confidentially Yours” pays homage to the detective novels of Raymond Chandler and other noir genre authors. Truffaut skillfully blends mystery and humor, creating an engaging plot with a touch of irony.
This film represents an interesting departure from Truffaut’s usual style and is a tribute to classic detective cinema. If you’re a fan of Giallo film and mystery, “Confidentially Yours” is a title you should consider watching.