Truffaut, tentatively

"Film has to express either pleasure or agony of the filmmaking process. I am not interested in anything in between."

This is the way François Truffaut, director, actor, film critic and most of all film lover, described his relationship with the art of moving pictures. He had been a passionate film lover since he was a child. He started writing film critiques in 1953 and four years later founded his own production company, Les Films du Carosse and made his first short film. Truffaut had never really done anything else but work on films. He usually worked with the same team of collaborators, such as director assistant Suzanne Schiffman, composer Georges Delerue, as well as cinematographers Raoul Coutard and Nestor Almendros. According to his own words, he always had total creative freedom and thus managed to preserve his films from external influences. Therefore, he made only those films that he wanted to make.

The relationship between the private personality that lives off of his artistic creation and a public figure constructed by the audience’s interpretation is ambiguous enough as it is, but it becomes even more complicated by the fact that the main actor, Jean-Pierre Léaud, who plays Antoine Doinel in Truffaut’s films The 400 Blows, Stolen Kisses, Bed and Board and Love on the Run, over the years become physically more and more similar to Truffaut. This fact convinced many that these films, as well as Truffaut’s entire opus, are autobiographical. However, even in his first film from this series the awareness of individual identities is formed through the subjective reception of cultural heritage. Growing up is figuratively presented through different attempts of appropriation of language. In the later films the need for and pleasure of storytelling - plotting as well as interpretation - is more dominant. In the last film from this series he included many quotes from previous films from the series as well his other films. This way he established an analysis of film storytelling, which is a combination of complex feedback connections of fiction and experience, as his central theme.

Through different themes and motives and shaping procedures Truffaut’s films question the interaction between the tentative and the definitive as an unending attempt to realize oneself. It is easy to divide characters in his films between those who tell the story themselves or in some way form their story and those who are characters in someone else’s narrative constructions. Catherine in the film Jules and Jim, Pierre Lachenay in The Soft Skin, or the two lovers in The Woman Next Door, are in that sense a strong contrast to Marion in The Last Metro: Catherine Deneuve’s role of the woman constantly exposed to others’ views and as an unattainable actress and director in her own life and theatre play, as a director in the theatre in which it takes place, probably best personifies Truffaut’s artistic creation. The film itself perfects its main obsession - the double code of film picture, representation and manner of representation. Elaboration of the interrelationship between acting and identity, the private and public, the set and implemented, the intimate and political, the tentative and definitive, through the juxtaposition of stage performance and reality, reaches its peak in the final scene, which, as in entire Truffaut's opus, inseparably joins the fictional, imaginary and real in a tentative triangle. (Tomislav Brlek)