A tribute to François Truffaut in Houston
François Truffaut, one of the founders of the "New Wave", prematurely died exactly thirty years ago; he nevertheless left a long filmography. For twenty-five years, he wrote the disillusioned chronicle of heroes both detached and passionate who are often left alone and realize, according to Muriel’s words at the end of Two English girls that "we know happiness only after. "
François Truffaut’s movies took part to impose a new cinematic language. But he who had denounced the influence of the "false legends" of French cinema and admired Jean Renoir remained faithful to a narrative immediately obvious for the viewer, conversely to Jean-Luc Godard. After his autobiographical movie, The Four Hundred Blows, he always worked with screenwriters.
But, beyond the linear story, step by step, Truffaut made us aware of the underlying origins of his heroes’ fate. His characters, often emblematic of himself and often torn between the wish of duration and the feeling that everything ends one day, affect us even today, even when the action takes place in the distant past. “If you make an emotional movie, like I do, you can’t shoot anything else than breaks” he said. The complexity of the feelings, the blend of sincerity and falsehood, of impudence and modesty, of boldness and indecisiveness of Truffaut’s heroes cause back in the viewer a blend of pleasure and bitterness. The emotion felt during the showing being past, some scenes will continue to echo in our lives. We will remember the burial scene at the opening of The Man Who Loved Women or the ending of The Woman Next Door, the Boby Lapointe’ song in Shoot the Piano Player or that of Jeanne Moreau in Jules and Jim, or, in The 400 Blows, Antoine’s interview with the psychologist and, in Stolen Kisses, the breakfast scene.
A question that will also remain in Day For Night: is cinema better than life? A question to which Ferrand (François Truffaut) answers: “Privacy is lame for everyone. Movies are more harmonious than life”, while later, Alphonse (Jean-Pierre Léaud) will say “Life is more important than cinema.”