François Truffaut
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Description

Memories and emotions in Truffaut's films


For François Truffaut, the lost secret of cinematic art is in the ability to generate emotion and reveal repressed fantasies through cinematic representation. Available in English for the first time, Anne Gillain's François Truffaut: The Lost Secret is considered by many to be the best book on the interpretation of Truffaut's films. Taking a psycho-biographical approach, Gillain shows how Truffaut's creative impulse was anchored in his personal experience of a traumatic childhood that left him lonely and emotionally deprived. In a series of brilliant, nuanced readings of each of his films, she demonstrates how involuntary memories arising from Truffaut's childhood not only furnish a succession of motifs that are repeated from film to film, but also govern every aspect of his mise en scène and cinematic technique.


Acknowledgements
Preface to the English Edition of François Truffaut: The Lost Secret. Anne Gillain
Emotion and the Authorial Fantasmatic: An Introduction to Anne Gillain's François Truffaut: The Lost Secret. Alistair Fox
Preface to the Original French Edition. One Secret Can Hide Another. Jean Gruault
Introduction: The Secret of the Art
1. Family Secrets: The 400 Blows (1959), The Woman Next Door (1981)
2. Deceptions: Shoot the Piano Player (1960), The Soft Skin (1964)
3. Queen-Women: Jules and Jim (1962), The Last Metro (1980)
4. Sentimental Educations: Stolen Kisses (1968), Two English Girls (1971)
5. Criminal Women: The Bride Wore Black (1967), A Gorgeous Girl Like Me (1972)
6. In Search of the Father: Fahrenheit 451 (1966), Day for Night (1973)
7. Marriages: Mississippi Mermaid (1969), Bed and Board (1970)
8. Words and Things: The Wild Child (1970), The Story of Adèle H. (1975)
9. The Child King: Small Change (1976), Love on the Run (1979)
10. Fetishism and Mourning: The Man Who Loved Women (1977), The Green Room (1978)
11. The Role of Play: Confidentially Yours (1983)
Conclusion: The Art of the Secret
Filmography
Bibliography
Index

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Publié par
Date de parution 07 juin 2013
Nombre de lectures 3
EAN13 9780253008459
Langue English
Poids de l'ouvrage 1 Mo

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Exrait

FRAN OIS TRUFFAUT
FRAN OIS TRUFFAUT
THE LOST SECRET
Anne Gillain Translated by Alistair Fox
with a new preface by the author
This book is a publication of
INDIANA UNIVERSITY PRESS Herman B Wells Library 350 1320 East 10th Street Bloomington, Indiana 47405 USA
iupress.indiana.edu
Telephone orders 800-842-6796 Fax orders 812-855-7931
Original French edition 1991 Anne Gillain. Translation 2013 Alistair Fox.
All rights reserved
No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying and recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. The Association of American University Presses Resolution on Permissions constitutes the only exception to this prohibition.
The paper used in this publication meets the minimum requirements of the American National Standard for Information Sciences-Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials, ANSI Z 39.48-1992.
Manufactured in the United States of America
Cataloging information is available from the Library of Congress .
ISBN 978-0-253-00834-3 (cloth) ISBN 978-0-253-00839-8 (paper) ISBN 978-0-253-00845-9 (eb)
1 2 3 4 5 18 17 16 15 14 13
He used to say that he wished he could have been able to make films during the years between 1924 and 1925. He said: That time was a truly extraordinary period - It would have been a real experience. He would like to have been a member of Hitchcock s generation, to be able to rediscover the lost secret.
JEAN GRUAULT
Contents
Preface to the English Edition of Fran ois Truffaut: The Lost Secret Anne Gillain
Emotion and the Authorial Fantasmatic: An Introduction to the English Edition of Anne Gillian s Fran ois Truffaut: The Lost Secret Alistair Fox
Preface to the Original French Edition: One Secret Can Hide Another Jean Gruault
Introduction: The Secret of the Art
1 Family Secrets: The 400 Blows (1959), The Woman Next Door (1981)
2 Deceptions: Shoot the Piano Player (1960), The Soft Skin (1964)
3 Queen-Women: Jules and Jim (1962), The Last Metro (1980)
4 Sentimental Educations: Stolen Kisses (1968), Two English Girls (1971)
5 Criminal Women: The Bride Wore Black (1967), A Gorgeous Girl Like Me (1972)
6 In Search of the Father: Fahrenheit 451 (1966), Day for Night (1973)
7 Marriages: Mississippi Mermaid (1969), Bed and Board (1970)
8 Words and Things: The Wild Child (1970), The Story of Ad le H . (1975)
9 The Child King: Small Change (1976), Love on the Run (1979)
10 Fetishism and Mourning: The Man Who Loved Women (1977), The Green Room (1978)
11 The Role of Play: Confidentially Yours (1983)
Conclusion: The Art of the Secret
Notes
Filmography
Bibliography
Index
Preface to the English Edition of Fran ois Truffaut: The Lost Secret
ANNE GILLAIN
IT IS A GREAT PLEASURE TO SEE THE PUBLICATION IN ENGLISH of Fran ois Truffaut: le secret perdu twenty years after it came out in France. I am most grateful to Alistair Fox for his impeccable work as a translator and for his presentation of my book in a most illuminating introduction. I would like to add a few words, first to explain what prompted me to write this book at the time and also briefly to account for the additional insights time has brought to my understanding of Truffaut s films.
Over the past fifteen years, a number of important books have been published about Truffaut. Two French publications are particularly noteworthy: one is a 400-page biography by Antoine de Baecque and Serge Toubiana that constitutes an essential source of information about the director s life. 1 Since Truffaut s films are profoundly autobiographical, this volume of documented and quotable data is invaluable. The other book, by Carole Le Berre, entitled Truffaut au travail , analyzes in depth the genesis of each film from beginning to end. 2 Carole Le Berre has interviewed many of Truffaut s artistic collaborators - scriptwriters, photographers, editors, and actors - and discloses significant information about the conception of each film and its progressive elaboration. When these books came out, I was of course interested in the ways they might support my reading of the films. My goal, when I wrote Fran ois Truffaut: le secret perdu , was to follow the transformation of experience into fiction through a series of recurring thematic and structural figures. Twenty years later, the analyses of the films have, in my opinion, stood the test of time; they are in fact documented and contextualized by new knowledge in a most stimulating way.
As most viewers did worldwide, I had unconditionally loved all of Truffaut s films in the sixties. The early seventies, however, marked the beginning of some difficult times for the celebrated New Wave director. Between 1969 and 1973, Truffaut only had one international success with The Wild Child . The first discordant note was struck in 1969 with The Mississippi Mermaid . The critical reception of the film was harsh and started the legend that Truffaut, shooting with big stars and a big budget, had betrayed the ideals he had brilliantly helped to formulate, disseminate, and illustrate in the early sixties. Bed and Board (1970), Two English Girls (1971) and A Gorgeous Girl Like Me (1972) reinforced the downhill spiral with acerbic critics, dwindling audiences, and little financial rewards. While success came back in 1973 with Day for Night and its Oscar for best foreign film, it also fed and reinforced a prejudice: Truffaut was a seasoned director who worked well with actors and made charming old-fashioned movies, but his films lacked scope, substance, and depth. In the seventies, I was so convinced of the truth of this clich that I had more or less stopped seeing his films altogether, or had, at least, missed several of them.
As it happens, on a hot day in the summer of 1976, quite by chance and partly motivated by the prospect of spending a couple of hours in an air-conditioned theater, I decided to go and see for the first time Two English Girls in an art-house theater - the Orson Welles - that was close to my place in Cambridge, Massachusetts. When I came out of the theater two hours later, my state resembled that evoked by Truffaut in his description of his goal as a director:

I want my audience to be constantly captivated, bewitched. So that it leaves the theater dazed, stunned to be back on the sidewalk. I would like my audience to forget the place and time in which it finds itself, like Proust immersed in reading at Combray. I want above all emotion. 3
Emotion had certainly occurred. Two English Girls had hit me full in the face. The depth and poignant accuracy the film displayed in his depiction of physical passion; its Proustian evocation of the flow of time through the flesh of the characters; its masterful use of voices, spaces, colors; and its distinctive weaving of text and images all deeply affected me. The scales had literally fallen from my eyes. I now knew two things: the recent critics who had condemned Truffaut s films were unfair, and the appreciation of his work as a whole was well worth reassessing. Truffaut was not a traditional and superficial director. His work captured an eternal truth about human nature and was endowed with timeless beauty. I think that my own experience is not exceptional. While preparing an edited volume on Truffaut, 4 I had the privilege to conduct, with my co-editor, Dudley Andrew, an interview with French director Arnaud Desplechin, who has an exceptional understanding of Truffaut s films. 5 One of the leitmotifs of his interview was to stress how wrong ( foolish was the word he used to describe himself) he had been in his appreciation of Truffaut when he was young and how much he had underestimated the latter s work. It could, however, be said that Truffaut himself is responsible for the misreading of his films given his famous ivory eggs motto: films should be beautiful objects that can be looked at and touched, but not broken into. In other words, Truffaut s films are specifically designed to be enjoyed, not to be understood. The contrast with Jean-Luc Godard, who forbids enjoyment but invites deconstructing, comes to mind. This may explain the abundance of scholarly work on the latter and the scarcity on the former. While admiring Two English Girls on the screen as a spectator, I also knew that it would be most difficult to account for its powerful spell as a critic.
A couple of years later, I used a sabbatical leave to go to Paris and take a French doctoral degree in film studies. There I had the privilege to study with world-renowned film theoreticians Christian Metz, Raymond Bellour, Michel Marie, Marc Vernet. It was a fascinating time when I also plunged into psychoanalytical theory and read Freud, Melanie Klein, Winnicott, and Guy Rosolato. I was supposed to write a short thesis and had already decided it would be on Truffaut s recent film The Man who Loved Women . Several of my colleagues were critical of this choice and told me I was making a serious mistake. Films by Marguerite Duras and Alain Robbe-Grillet, which seemed designed to illustrate the prevalent critical theories, were among the favorite thesis topics. In contrast to these works, Truffaut s films were considered popular art designed to please a wide audience and not highly regarded in academic circles.
The time was 1979 before videos or DVDS made films readily accessible. It was very difficult to gain material access to movies. Film remained, as the famous article by Raymond Bellour describes it, Le texte introuvable. For this reason, I wrote a note to Truffaut s office asking for support. The following morning, I wa

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