François Truffaut

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François Truffaut.

François Roland Truffaut (French IPA: [tʀyˈfo]) (February 6, 1932October 21, 1984) was one of the founders of the French "New Wave" in filmmaking, and remains an icon of the French film industry. In a film career lasting just over a quarter of a century, he fulfilled the functions of screenwriter, director, producer or actor in over twenty-five films.


[edit] Life

Truffaut was born out of wedlock in Paris, where he was raised by his mother and his adoptive father, Roland Truffaut, both of whom were devout Catholics. He never met his biological father Roland Lévy, who was a Jewish dentist. Truffaut had a difficult childhood that resulted in rebellion against his parents in particular and authority in general. Truffaut reported that his film The 400 Blows (1959) was largely autobiographical. His love of films partly came from his elective father, the writer and critic André Bazin.

Truffaut came to filmmaking only after an early career as one of the most outspoken film critics in France, writing for Bazin's les Cahiers du cinéma (he became an editor of the review in 1953). The Cahiers at this time were intensely critical of post-war French cinema; they saw it as overtly literary at the time. As a result of the severity of his critiques, Truffaut was refused a press pass to the 1958 Cannes film festival. Along with his Cahiers colleagues, including Jean-Luc Godard and Éric Rohmer, Truffaut was enamoured with Hollywood filmmakers such as Alfred Hitchcock, Nicholas Ray and Howard Hawks, then often dismissed as mere genre film makers. In his 1954 article, Truffaut expounded the politique des auteurs, or Auteur theory of cinema which championed the idea that movies should reflect the personal vision and preoccupations of the director.

On October 29, 1957, he married Madeleine Morgenstern at the City Hall in Paris, with whom he had two children, Laura (b. January 22, 1959) and Eva (b. June 29, 1961). His father-in-law, a film producer and distributor, helped to get Truffaut's career off the ground, by financing the making of his first film, the short Les Mistons (1958). He and Morgenstern divorced in 1965. In 1983, he had a daughter with actress and constant companion, Fanny Ardant, Joséphine Truffaut who was born on September 28, 1983, a year before his death.

The dynamics of relationships are a common thread throughout most of his films.

Truffaut was an expert on Sir Alfred Hitchcock, even publishing a book Hitchcock (1962, also known as Hitchcock/Truffaut) which recorded interviews and conversations with Hitchcock. His last film Confidentially Yours, a comedy thriller in black and white, could be considered to be a "fake Hitchcock".

Truffaut's 1973 production of La Nuit américaine (known in the US as Day for Night) won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film. Also an actor, he sometimes played in his own films, and appeared in Steven Spielberg's Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

Truffaut suffered from a brain tumour which was diagnosed in 1983. He died shortly thereafter in the American Hospital in Neuilly-sur-Seine at the age of 52. He was buried in the Cimetière de Montmartre in Paris.

[edit] Work

Among Truffaut's films one can discern a series featuring the character Antoine Doinel, played by the actor Jean-Pierre Léaud who began his career in The 400 Blows at the age of fourteen, continuing as the favourite actor and "double" of Truffaut himself. The series would continue with Antoine and Colette (a short film in the anthology Love at Twenty), Stolen Kisses, Bed & Board and finally Love on the Run

In most of these movies, Léaud's partner is Truffaut's favourite actress Claude Jade as his girlfriend (and then wife), "Christine Darbon".

A keen reader, Truffaut filmed many novels:

Truffaut's other films result from original screenplays, often co-written by the screenwriters Suzanne Schiffman or Jean Gruault, films on very diverse subjects, the sombre The Story of Adele H., inspired by the life of the daughter of Victor Hugo, with Isabelle Adjani, or La Nuit américaine (or "The American Night" which is both the English translation and the French version of the cinema technique known as "Day For Night" which is the English title of the film), shot at the Studio La Victorine describing the ups and downs of film-making, or The Last Metro, set during the German occupation of France, a film rewarded by ten César Awards.

[edit] Filmography

[edit] As a director

YearOriginal French titleEnglish titleNotes
1955 Une Visite  
1957 Les Mistons The Misfits  
1958 Une Histoire d'eau The Story of Water Co-directed with Jean-Luc Godard
1959 Les Quatre cents coups The 400 Blows Antoine Doinel series
1960 Tirez sur le pianiste Shoot the Piano Player  
1962 Jules et Jim Jules and Jim  
1962 Antoine et Colette Antoine and Colette Antoine Doinel series, from L'Amour à vingt ans (Love at Twenty)
1964 La Peau douce The Soft Skin  
1965   Fahrenheit 451 Filmed in English
1967 La Mariée était en noir The Bride Wore Black  
1968 Baisers volés Stolen Kisses Antoine Doinel series
1969 La Sirène du Mississippi Mississippi Mermaid  
1970 L'Enfant sauvage The Wild Child / The Wild Boy  
1970 Domicile conjugal Bed and Board Antoine Doinel series
1971 Les Deux anglaises et le continent Two English Girls  
1972 Une belle fille comme moi Such a Gorgeous Kid Like Me / A Gorgeous Bird Like Me  
1973 La Nuit américaine Day for Night Winner of the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film
1975 L'Histoire d'Adèle H. The Story of Adele H.  
1976 L'Argent de poche Small Change  
1977 L'Homme qui aimait les femmes The Man Who Loved Women  
1978 La Chambre verte The Green Room  
1979 L'Amour en fuite Love on the Run Antoine Doinel series
1980 Le Dernier métro The Last Metro  
1981 La Femme d'à côté The Woman Next Door  
1983 Vivement dimanche! Confidentially Yours  

[edit] As an actor only

YearOriginal French titleEnglish titleNotes
1977   Close Encounters of the Third Kind Directed by Stephen Spielberg

[edit] As screenwriter only

YearOriginal French titleEnglish titleNotes
1960 À bout de souffle Breathless Directed by Jean-Luc Godard
1983   Breathless English-language remake of À bout de souffle
1988 La petite voleuse The Little Thief Directed by Claude Miller
1995 Belle Époque  Television series

[edit] Bibliography

  • Les 400 Coups (1960) with M. Moussy
  • Le Cinéma selon Alfred Hitchcock (1967, second edition 1983)
  • Les Aventures d'Antoine Doinel (1970)
  • Jules et Jim (film script) (1971)
  • La Nuit américaine et le Journal de Fahrenheit 451 (1974)
  • Le Plaisir des yeux (1975)
  • L'Argent de poche (1976)
  • L'Homme qui aimait les femmes (1977)
  • Les Films de ma vie (1981)
  • Correspondance (1988)
  • Le Cinéma selon François Truffaut (1988) edited by Anne Gillain
  • Belle époque (1996) with Jean Gruault

[edit] Quotes

  • "The film of tomorrow appears to me as even more personal than an individual and autobiographical novel, like a confession, or a diary. The young filmmakers will express themselves in the first person and will relate what has happened to them. It may be the story of their first love or their most recent; of their political awakening; the story of a trip, a sickness, their military service, their marriage, their last vacation...and it will be enjoyable because it will be true, and new...The film of tomorrow will not be directed by civil servants of the camera, but by artists for whom shooting a film constitutes a wonderful and thrilling adventure. The film of tomorrow will resemble the person who made it, and the number of spectators will be proportional to the number of friends the director has. The film of tomorrow will be an act of love." — François Truffaut, published in Arts magazine, May 1957 Source: Miami New Times
  • "Film lovers are sick people."
  • "In love, women are professionals, men are amateurs."
  • "Hitchcock loves to be misunderstood, because he has based his whole life around misunderstandings."
  • "An actor is never so great as when he reminds you of an animal — falling like a cat, lying like a dog, moving like a fox." Source: [1]
  • "Is the cinema more important than life?"
  • "I have always preferred the reflection of the life to life itself."
  • "Taste is a result of a thousand distastes." Source: [2]

[edit] See also

[edit] References

[edit] External links

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François Truffaut

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