Francois Truffaut

Francois Roland Truffaut (February 6, 1932 – October 21, 1984)

Excerpted from New Wave Film ...

Francois Truffaut was born in Paris in 1932. His unmarried mother ... was 19 at the time ... Truffaut never met his biological father ... Eighteen months later [his mother] married Roland Truffaut ... Francois was not allowed to disrupt their life and until the age of 10 was brought up mainly by his maternal grandmother. It was only when she died that he went to live with his parents for the first time ... They repeatedly left him alone at weekends and even at Christmas ...

It was the cinema that offered him the greatest escape from an unsatisfying home life. His obsession began at eight years old when he saw his first movie ... At the age of fourteen, after being excluded from school, he decided to be self taught ... Truffaut learnt to analyse the aesthetics of cinema in depth ...After starting his own cinema club, Cercle Cinemane ... in 1948, Truffaut met Andre Bazin ... He became a friend and mentor to Truffaut ... [who] lived in the attic room above the Bazin family apartment ...writing for Cahiers du cinema, ‘A Certain Tendency in French Cinema’ proved the key to ... establishing his reputation ...

Though a successful critic, Truffaut nurtured the desire to become a director. His first effort, in 1954, was an 8 minute short, UNE VISITE ... Filming on LES MISTONS began in Nimes on 2 August 1957 ... Although only 20 minutes long, LES MISTONS featured many of the themes that Truffaut would return to again and again in his movies: love, children, writing and death. Although the story is simple, Truffaut’s skill as a filmmaker is already apparent ... Truffaut wrote a screenplay based on his own childhood experiences ... THE 400 BLOWS ... Filming was completed on January 5th, 1959 ... widely acclaimed on its release ... helped to establish the French New Wave Movement ... Its freewheeling style, at the same time both realistic and lyrical, would become characteristic of Truffaut’s work, and it’s themes – the need to belong and the search for love – would surface again and again ...

SHOOT THE PIANO PLAYER was perhaps the most experimental and New Wave of all Truffaut’s films ... his next film... an adaptation of Henri-Pierre Roche’s novel, JULES AND JIM ... The influence of Hitchcock was clearly evident in the next three films Truffaut directed beginning with SOFT SKIN (1964) ... The unexpected success of STOLEN KISSES allowed Truffaut to go into production on a more ambitious film,  MISSISSIPPI MERMAID (1969) ... his next movie [was] THE WILD CHILD (1970) ... THE TWO ENGLISH GIRLS AND THE CONTINENT ... was released in November 1971...  his next project [was] a zany comedy titled SUCH A GORGEOUS KIDS LIKE ME ... Shooting on DAY FOR NIGHT began at the Victorine Studios in September 1972 ... The filming of THE STORY OF ADELE H (1975)  took place ... off the coast of Senegal ... Just four months after completion of filming on Adele H, Truffaut began shooting POCKET MONEY (1976) ... a collection of interwoven narratives ...

THE MAN WHO LOVED WOMEN ... was another great success at the box office ... THE GREEN ROOM (1978) was based on several short stories by Henry James  ... shot quickly on a low budget, LOVE ON THE RUN (1979), proved just the money-spinner that was needed ... The huge critical and commercial success of THE LAST METRO raised Truffaut’s profile to an unprecedented level ... THE WOMAN NEXT DOOR (1981) was shot quickly and on a modest budget ... [SHOOT THE PIANO PLAYER (1960) was a] stab at the noir genre  ... CONFIDENTIALLY YOURS was released on 10 August 1983 ... On the evening of the 12 August ... Truffaut experienced "a fire-cracker going off in his head" ... doctors discovered a brain tumour ...  he died on 21 October 1984 ...Today, not only have his twenty-five movies gone on to become classics, but Truffaut is widely recognized now as one of the greatest filmmakers of all time.