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Jules et Jim (1962) - François Truffaut

Jules et Jim (1962) - François Truffaut [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]


Jules et Jim is a 1962 film by François Truffaut based on the novel by Henri-Pierre Roché.

Truffaut described the book as 'a perfect hymn to love and perhaps to life'. He came across it during the mid 1950s whilst browsing through some secondhand books in Paris and later befriended the elderly author who approved of the young director's attempt to translate the words on the page into celluloid images.

One of the seminal products of the French New Wave, Jules et Jim is an inventive encyclopaedia of the language of traditional cinema that incorporates newsreel footage, photographic stills, freeze frames, panning shots, wipes, masking, dolly shots, a voiceover (Michel Subor) and distorted imagery to tell Roché's semi-autobiographical story. Truffaut's choice of cinematographer was the virtuoso Raoul Coutard, a sometime collaborator with Jean Luc Godard, who employed the latest light weight photographic equipment to create an extremely fluid and distinctive camera style. For example, some of the postwar scenes were shot using cameras mounted on bicycles. The evocative musical score is by Georges Delerue and one song, Le Tourbillon (the whirlwind), that summed up the turbulence of the lives of the three main characters, became a popular hit. The dialogue is predominantly in French, with occasional lines in English and German.

The film is set before, during and after the First World War in several different parts of France and Germany. Jules (Oskar Werner) is a retiring writer from Austria who makes friends with the more outward going Jim (Henri Serre). Together they share an interest in the world of the arts and Bohemian life. They encounter the free spirited, capricious Catherine (Jeanne Moreau) and both men are affected by her presence and her attitude towards life. After the separation that occurs during the war Jules and Catherine marry and have a daughter. They invite Jim to visit, and later stay, with them. Their ménage à trois becomes a love triangle which leads, ultimately, to tragedy. It is a testament to the genius of Truffaut that the dark ending is balanced by some of the most life affirming moments in the history of cinema.

Quentin Tarantino references this work in his film Pulp Fiction. It is also 'quoted' by Jean-Pierre Jeunet in his film Amélie, by Cameron Crowe in his film Vanilla Sky and in the music of the band The Divine Comedy. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jules_et_Jim [Oct 2005]

  • Jules et Jim (1962) - François Truffaut [Amazon.com]
    François Truffaut's third feature, though it's named for the two best friends who become virtually inseparable in pre-World War I Paris, is centered on Jeanne Moreau's Catherine, the most mysterious, enigmatic woman in his career-long gallery of rich female portraits. Adapted from the novel by Henri-Pierre Roché, Truffaut's picture explores the 30-year friendship between Austrian biologist Jules (Oskar Werner) and Parisian writer Jim (Henri Serre) and the love triangle formed when the alluring Catherine makes the duo a trio. Spontaneous and lively, a woman of intense but dynamic emotions, she becomes the axle on which their friendship turns as Jules woos her and they marry, only to find that no one man can hold her. Directed in bursts of concentrated scenes interspersed with montage sequences and pulled together by the commentary of an omniscient narrator, Truffaut layers his tragic drama with a wealth of detail. He draws on his bag of New Wave tricks for the carefree days of youth--zooms, flash cuts, freeze frames--that disappear as the marriage disintegrates during the gloom of the postwar years. Werner is excellent as Jules, a vibrant young man whose slow, melancholy slide into emotional compromise is charted in his increasingly sad eyes and resigned face, while Serre plays Jim as more of an enigma, guarded and introspective. But both are eclipsed in the glare of Moreau's radiant Catherine: impulsive, demanding, sensual, passionate, destructive, and ultimately unknowable. A masterpiece of the French New Wave and one of Truffaut's most confident and accomplished films. --Sean Axmaker for amazon.com

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