FRANçOIS ROLAND TRUFFAUT (French: ; 6 February 1932 – 21 October
1984) was a French film director, screenwriter, producer, actor, and
film critic , as well as one of the founders of the
French New Wave .
In a film career lasting over a quarter of a century, he remains an
icon of the French film industry, having worked on over 25 films.
The 400 Blows came to be a defining film of the French
New Wave movement. Unique in world cinema, the movie is followed over
20 years with classics
* 1 Early life * 2 Career * 3 Personal life * 4 Death * 5 Work * 6 Attitude towards other filmmakers
* 7 Filmography
* 7.1 Director: features * 7.2 Director: shorts and collaborations * 7.3 Screenwriter only * 7.4 Actor * 7.5 Producer only
* 8 Bibliography * 9 See also * 10 References * 11 External links
Truffaut was born in
Truffaut would often stay with friends and try to be out of the house as much as possible. His best friend throughout his youth and until his death was Robert Lachenay , who was the inspiration for the character René Bigey in The 400 Blows and would work as an assistant on some of Truffaut's films. It was the cinema that offered him the greatest escape from an unsatisfying home life. He was eight years old when he saw his first movie, Abel Gance 's Paradis Perdu (Paradise Lost) from 1939. It was there that his obsession began. He frequently played truant from school and would sneak into theaters because he didn't have enough money for admission. After being expelled from several schools, at the age of fourteen he decided to become self-taught. Two of his academic goals were to watch three movies a day and read three books a week.
Henri Langlois '
Cinémathèque Française where
he was exposed to countless foreign films from around the world. It
was here that he became familiar with American cinema and directors
John Ford ,
After starting his own film club in 1948, Truffaut met André Bazin , who would have great effect on his professional and personal life. Bazin was a critic and the head of another film society at the time. He became a personal friend of Truffaut's and helped him out of various financial and criminal situations during his formative years.
Truffaut joined the
In 1954, Truffaut wrote an article in
Cahiers du cinéma called "Une
Certaine Tendance du Cinéma Français" ("A Certain Trend of French
Cinema"), in which he attacked the current state of French films,
lambasting certain screenwriters and producers, and listing eight
directors he considered incapable of devising the kinds of "vile" and
"grotesque" characters and storylines that he declared were
characteristic of the mainstream French film industry:
Jean Renoir ,
Robert Bresson ,
Truffaut later devised the auteur theory , which stated that the
director was the "author" of his work; that great directors such as
Renoir or Hitchcock have distinct styles and themes that permeate all
of their films. Although his theory was not widely accepted then, it
gained some support in the 1960s from American critic
Andrew Sarris .
In 1967, Truffaut published his book-length interview of Hitchcock,
Hitchcock/Truffaut (New York:
Simon and Schuster
After having been a critic, Truffaut decided to make films of his
own. He started out with the short film
Une Visite in 1955 and
followed that up with
Les Mistons in 1957. After seeing
This film was an instant success and won him a prize at the Cannes Film Festival. This film and the following films were successful even with the low budget he had to make the films.
He also acted, appearing in Steven Spielberg 's 1977 film Close Encounters of the Third Kind , where he played scientist Claude Lacombe.
Truffaut was married to Madeleine Morgenstern from 1957 to 1965, and they had two daughters, Laura (born 1959) and Eva (born 1961). Madeleine was the daughter of Ignace Morgenstern , managing director of one of France's largest film distribution companies, and was largely responsible for securing funding for Truffaut's first films. He had affairs with many of his leading ladies: in 1968 he was engaged to actress Claude Jade ; Truffaut and actress Fanny Ardant lived together from 1981 to 1984 and had a daughter, Joséphine Truffaut (born 28 September 1983). Truffaut was an atheist.
In July 1983, Truffaut rented
France Gall and
Michel Berger 's house
Honfleur , Normandy (composing for
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The 400 Blows was released in 1959 to much critical and commercial
acclaim. Truffaut received a Best Director award from the Cannes Film
Festival , the same festival that had banned him only one year
earlier. The film follows the character of
Antoine Doinel through his
perilous misadventures in school, an unhappy home life and later
reform school. The film is highly autobiographical. Both Truffaut and
Doinel were only children of loveless marriages; they both committed
petty crimes of theft and truancy from the military. Truffaut cast
The primary focus of The 400 Blows is on the life of a young character by the name of Antoine Doinel. This film follows this character through his troubled adolescence. He is caught in between an unstable parental relationship and an isolated youth. The film focuses on the real life events of the director, François Truffaut. From birth Truffaut was thrown into an undesired situation. As he was born out of wedlock, his birth had to remain a secret because of the social stigma associated with illegitimacy. He was registered as "A child born to an unknown father" in the hospital records. He was looked after by a nurse for an extended period of time. His mother eventually married and her husband Roland gave his surname, Truffaut, to François.
Although he was legally accepted as a legitimate child, his parents did not accept him. The Truffauts had another child who died shortly after birth. This experience saddened them greatly and as a result they despised François because of the memory of regret that he represented (Knopf 4). He was an outcast from his earliest years, dismissed as an unwanted child. François was sent to live with his grandparents. It wasn't until François's grandmother's death before his parents took him in, much to the dismay of his own mother. The experiences with his mother were harsh. He recalled being treated badly by her but he found comfort in his father's laughter and overall spirit. The relationship with Roland was more comforting than the one with his own mother. François had a very depressing childhood after moving in with his parents. They would leave him alone whenever they would go on vacations. He even recalled memories of being alone during Christmas. Being left alone forced François into a sense of independence, he would often do various tasks around the house in order to improve it such as painting or changing the electric outlets. Sadly, these kind gestures often resulted in a catastrophic event causing him to get scolded by his mother. His father would mostly laugh them off.
The 400 Blows marked the beginning of the French New Wave movement, which gave directors such as Jean-Luc Godard , Claude Chabrol and Jacques Rivette a wider audience. The New Wave dealt with a self-conscious rejection of traditional cinema structure. This was a topic on which Truffaut had been writing for years.
Following the success of The 400 Blows, Truffaut featured disjunctive editing and seemingly random voice-overs in his next film Shoot the Piano Player (1960) starring Charles Aznavour . Truffaut has stated that in the middle of filming, he realized that he hated gangsters. But since gangsters were a main part of the story, he toned up the comical aspect of the characters and made the movie more attuned to his liking. Even though Shoot the Piano Player was much appreciated by critics, it performed poorly at the box office. While the film focused on two of the French New Wave's favorite elements, American film noir and themselves, Truffaut never again experimented as heavily.
In 1962, Truffaut directed his third movie,
Jules and Jim , a
romantic drama starring
Truffaut worked on projects with varied subjects. The Bride Wore
Black (1968), a brutal tale of revenge, is a stylish homage to the
Alfred Hitchcock (once again starring Jeanne Moreau).
Mississippi Mermaid (1969), with
Two English Girls (1971) is the female reflection of the same love story as "Jules et Jim". It is based on a story written by Henri-Pierre Roche , who also wrote Jules and Jim. It is about a man who falls equally in love with two sisters, and their love affair over a period of years.
Day for Night won Truffaut a Best Foreign Film Oscar in 1973. The film is probably his most reflective work. It is the story of a film crew trying to finish their film while dealing with all of the personal and professional problems that accompany making a movie. Truffaut plays the director of the fictional film being made. This film features scenes shown in his previous films. It is considered to be his best film since his earliest work. Time magazine placed it on their list of 100 Best Films of the Century (along with The 400 Blows).
In 1975, Truffaut gained more notoriety with The Story of Adele H.
Isabelle Adjani in the title role earned a nomination for a Best
Actress Oscar . Truffaut's 1976 film Small Change gained a Golden
Globe Nomination for Best Foreign Film . Love on the Run starring
Truffaut's final movie was shot in black and white. It gives his career almost a sense of having bookends. Confidentially Yours is Truffaut's tribute to his favorite director, Alfred Hitchcock . It deals with numerous Hitchcockian themes, such as private guilt vs. public innocence, a woman investigating a murder, anonymous locations, etc.
Among Truffaut's films, a series features the character Antoine
Doinel , played by the actor
In the last movies, Léaud's girlfriend and later wife, Christine Darbon, was played by Truffaut's favorite actress, Claude Jade . During the filming of Stolen Kisses, Truffaut himself fell in love with, and was briefly engaged to, Claude Jade.
A keen reader, Truffaut adapted many literary works, including two novels by Henri-Pierre Roché , Ray Bradbury 's Fahrenheit 451 , Henry James ' " The Altar of the Dead ", filmed as The Green Room , and several American detective novels .
Truffaut's other films were from original screenplays, often
co-written by the screenwriters
Suzanne Schiffman or
Jean Gruault .
They featured diverse subjects, the sombre
The Story of Adele H. ,
inspired by the life of the daughter of
Known as being a lifelong cinephile, Truffaut once (according to the 1993 documentary film François Truffaut: Stolen Portraits ) threw a hitchhiker he had picked up out of his car after learning that the hitchhiker didn't like films.
Truffaut is admired among other filmmakers and several tributes to
his work have appeared in other films such as
ATTITUDE TOWARDS OTHER FILMMAKERS
Truffaut expressed his admiration for filmmakers such as Luis Buñuel
On Jean Renoir , he said: "I think Renoir is the only filmmaker who's practically infallible, who has never made a mistake on film. And I think if he never made mistakes, it's because he always found solutions based on simplicity—human solutions. He's one film director who never pretended. He never tried to have a style, and if you know his work—which is very comprehensive, since he dealt with all sorts of subjects—when you get stuck, especially as a young filmmaker, you can think of how Renoir would have handled the situation, and you generally find a solution".
In 1973, Jean-Luc Godard accused Truffaut of making a movie that was a "lie", and Truffaut replied with a 20-page letter in which he accused Godard of being a radical-chic hypocrite, a man who believed everyone to be "equal" in theory only. The two never saw each other again. However, as noted by Serge Toubiana and Antoine de Baecque in their biography of Truffaut, Godard tried to reconcile their friendship later on, and after Truffaut's death wrote the introduction to a collection of his letters and a lengthy tribute in his video-essay film Histoire(s) du cinéma .
YEAR ENGLISH TITLE ORIGINAL TITLE NOTES
The 400 Blows
Les Quatre Cents Coups
Antoine Doinel series
Cannes Film Festival – Best Director
Academy Award for Writing Original Screenplay
Cannes Film Festival –
1960 Shoot the Piano Player Tirez sur le pianiste
1962 Jules and Jim Jules et Jim Mar del Plata International Film Festival – Best Director Nominated – Mar del Plata International Film Festival – Best Film
1966 Fahrenheit 451 Fahrenheit 451 Filmed in English Nominated – Venice Film Festival – Golden Lion
The Bride Wore Black
1969 Mississippi Mermaid La sirène du Mississipi
The Wild Child
1970 Bed and Board Domicile conjugal Antoine Doinel series
1971 Two English Girls Les Deux anglaises et le continent
1972 Such a Gorgeous Kid Like Me Une belle fille comme moi
Day for Night
La Nuit américaine
Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film
L'Argent de poche
Nominated – Berlin International Film Festival –
The Man Who Loved Women
L'Homme qui aimait les femmes
Nominated – Berlin International Film Festival –
1978 The Green Room La Chambre verte
The Last Metro
The Woman Next Door
DIRECTOR: SHORTS AND COLLABORATIONS
YEAR TITLE ORIGINAL TITLE NOTES
1955 A Visit Une Visite
1957 The Mischief Makers Les Mistons
1961 The Army Game "Tire-au-flanc 62" Directed by Claude de Givray ; Truffaut credited as co-director
YEAR TITLE ORIGINAL TITLE NOTES
1960 Breathless À bout de souffle Directed by Jean-Luc Godard
YEAR TITLE ROLE NOTES
1956 Le Coup du berger Party guest Uncredited, Directed by Jacques Rivette
1956 La sonate à Kreutzer
1959 The 400 Blows Man in Funfair Uncredited
1963 À tout prendre Himself Uncredited
1964 The Soft Skin Le pompiste Voice, Uncredited
The Wild Child
Bed translated by Helen G. Scott)
Jules et Jim (film script) (1971) (English translation: Jules and
Jim; translated by Nicholas Fry)
* La Nuit américaine et le Journal de Fahrenheit 451 (1974)
* Le Plaisir des yeux (1975)
* L'Argent de poche (1976) (English title: Small change: a film
novel; translated by Anselm Hollo)
* L'Homme qui aimait les femmes (1977)
* Les Films de ma vie (1981) (English translation: Films in my life;
translated by Leonard Mayhew)
* Correspondance (1988) (English translation: Correspondence,
1945–1984; translated by Gilbert Adair)
* Le Cinéma selon
* ^ Obituary Variety , 24 October 1984.
* ^ A B C "FRANCOIS TRUFFAUT –
French New Wave Director".
Newwavefilm.com. Retrieved 6 February 2012.
* ^ François Truffaut: film author 1932–1984 – Robert Ingram,
Paul Duncan. Google Books. Retrieved 6 February 2012.
* ^ A B "
* Animated Google Logo for François Truffaut\'s 80th birthday on YouTube
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