The Films of François Truffaut at Mfa Boston

The Films of François Truffaut at Mfa Boston
Yareah Magazine

The Films of François Truffaut at Mfa Boston. December 5-28, 2013. All films screen on 35 mm. If you have the chance, don’t miss this event, Yareah friends.


Fahrenheit 451 by François Truffaut

The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, presents a 21 film retrospective of French New Wave auteur François Truffaut. The series includes his beloved masterpieces, such as The 400 Blows, Jules and Jim, and Day for Night, and provides an opportunity to discover works that rarely screen in the United States. These works include The Green Room (aka The Vanishing Fiancée), The Woman Next Door, and The Man Who Loved Women. The program also includes two Truffaut shorts-“The Brats” (1959) and “Antoine and Colette” (1962), the second film in the Antoine Doinel series starring Jean-Pierre Léaud.

Truffaut was born in February of 1932, and by the age of 10 was cutting class regularly and seeing up to fifteen films per week, favoring crime movies and love stories. At 14, he met Andre Bazin, the famous film theorist and critic, who became a father figure for Truffaut. Like his contemporaries Jean-Luc Godard, Claude Chabrol, Eric Rohmer and Jacques Rivette, Truffaut began as a film critic for Bazin’s Cahiers du Cinema championing low-budget films and praising more neglected or misunderstood directors (among them Alfred Hitchcock, Howard Hawks, Ernest Lubitsch, and Nicholas Ray).

In the fall of 1962, Truffaut went to Universal Studios to interview Hitchcock, his favorite director. Truffaut’s interviews worked systematically through Hitchcock’s life and filmography, from his silent films shot in Britain to his later Hollywood productions. In total, the two filmmakers talked for over 12 hours. Truffaut turned these interviews into a book- Hitchcock: A Definitive Study (1967). Hitchcock’s influence can be observed in almost every one of Truffaut’s films culminating in his final film Confidentially Yours. Truffaut died of a brain tumor in 1984 at the age of 52.

“At its best Truffaut’s work retains a piercing candor, a directness and material immediacy that only the cinema, in the hands of its masters, can communicate. Time hasn’t dulled Truffaut’s achievement, but it has highlighted it differently. He was a thornier, more complex filmmaker than we thought, and perhaps a greater one” (The New York Times).


The 400 Blows preceded by The Brats. Thu, Dec 5, 5 pm (AA) $9, $11. Fri, Dec 6, 7 pm (RA) $9, $11.

The 400 Blows (Les quatre cents coups) (1959, 99 min.). Without a doubt, The 400 Blows is one of cinema’s greatest achievements. Antoine Doinel, played impeccably by Jean-Pierre Léaud, serves as Truffaut’s cinematic counterpart, in a world filled with aloof parents and oppressive teachers. Writing a new cinematic language, Truffaut captures the difficulty of transitioning out of childhood and into adolescences with a stunning realism.

The Brats (Les mistons) (1957, 17 min.). Unable to maturely express their admiration for Bernadette, a group of adolescents resort to tormenting her and her boyfriend.

Shoot the Piano Player. Thu, Dec 5, 7:30 pm (AA) $9, $11. Fri, Dec 6, 5 pm (RA) $9, $11.

Shoot the Piano Player (Tirez sur le pianiste) (1960, 81 min.). New Wave directors turned American pulp novels into cinematic brilliance, and Shoot the Piano Player is perhaps the greatest example. The mixing of styles, genres, and emotional tones gives the film the feeling of watching a jazz score come to life. Part thriller, part comedy, part tragedy, Truffaut captures the adventures of mild-mannered piano player Charlie as he stumbles into the criminal underworld and a whirlwind love affair.

Jules and Jim. Sat, Dec 7, 12:30 pm (RA) $9, $11. Thu, Dec 12, 8 pm (AA) $9, $11.

Jules and Jim (Jules et Jim) (1962, 104 min.). An exuberant and poignant meditation on freedom, loyalty, and the fortitude of love, Jules and Jim is one of cinema’s most captivating romantic triangles. Jules and Jim charts the relationship between two friends and the object of their mutual obsession over the course of 25 years. Jeanne Moreau stars as Catherine, the alluring and willful young woman whose enigmatic smile and passionate nature lure Jules (Oskar Werner) and Jim (Henri Serre).

The Soft Skin. Sun, Dec 8, 10:30 am (AA) $7, $8. Thu, Dec 12, 5:30 pm (AA) $9, $11.

The Soft Skin (La peau douce) (1964, 119 min.). A haunting score by Georges Delerue enhances the mood in Truffaut’s dark and suspenseful follow-up to Jules and Jim. While on a business trip, married literary critic Pierre Lachenay (Jean Desailly) meets a beautiful airline hostess (Françoise Dorleac) and begins an affair. As Pierre’s behavior becomes increasingly impulsive, his infidelity sparks a devastating act of jealousy and revenge. A mixture of Hitchcockian suspense motifs and acutely observed drama, The Soft Skin is one of Truffaut’s most penetrating works.

Fahrenheit 451. Thu, Dec 12, 3 pm (AA) $7, $8. Fri, Dec 13, 5:30 pm (RA) $9, $11.

Fahrenheit 451 (1966, 112 min.). Truffaut tackles the science-fiction genre in his only English-language film. The film depicts a society in which books are forbidden. The fire department’s mission is to find hidden book stashes, douse them with gasoline, and set them on fire. Oskar Werner plays a fireman named Montag, whose exposure to David Copperfield wakens an instinct toward reading and individual thought. In an intriguing casting flourish, Julie Christie plays two roles: Montag’s bored, drugged-up wife and the woman who helps kindle the spark of rebellion.

Stolen Kisses preceded by Antoine and Colette. Fri, Dec 13, 3 pm (RA) $7, $8. Sat, Dec 14, 1 pm (RA) $9, $11.

Stolen Kisses (Baisers volés) (1968, 90 min.). After being discharged from the army for insubordination, Antoine Doinel tries to manage a job and a relationship, first with Christine, then with the married Fabienne. The film maintains a delightful improvisation feel, particularly as Antoine tries different jobs: night clerk, detective, TV repairman. Whimsical, nostalgic, and irrepressibly romantic, Stolen Kisses is Truffaut’s timeless ode to the passion and impetuosity of youth.

Antoine and Colette (Antoine et Colette) (1962, 30 min.). Finally free from his parent’s control, Antoine is a music-obsessed adolescent who falls in love with Colette, but his possessiveness causes a rift between them. “The half-hour . . . is among the most beautiful things Truffaut ever committed to film” (Film Comment).

Bride Wore Black. Fri, Dec 13, 8 pm (RA) $9, $11. Sat, Dec 14, 10:30 am (RA) $7, $8.

The Bride Wore Black (La mariée était en noir) (1968, 107 min.). In a conscious homage to Alfred Hitchcock with dashes of the famous French New Wave style, legendary actress Jeanne Moreau stars as Julie Kocher, a woman whose fiancé is murdered by five men on their wedding day. Seeking revenge, she hunts them down one by one, as her pursuit is ominously punctuated with a musical score written by Bernard Herrmann (Psycho).

Mississippi Mermaid. Sat, Dec 14, 3:30 pm (RA) $9, $11.

Mississippi Mermaid (La sirene du Mississippi) (1969, 122 min.). This Hitchcock-style romantic thriller stars Jean-Paul Belmondo (Louis) and Catherine Deneuve (Julie) in an exploration of sexual obsession and betrayal. Louis, a tobacco planter on the island of Réunion in the Indian Ocean, sends away for a mail-order bride. When Julie arrives, things seem too good to be true-and they are. When she mysteriously disappears after draining his bank account, Louis’s search for her leads him to France where he finds her working in a nightclub.

The Wild Child.  Wed, Dec 18, 3 pm (RA) $7, $8. Thu, Dec 19, 5:30 pm (AA) $9, $11.

The Wild Child (L’enfant sauvage) (1970, 93 min.). Based on a true story, the film follows the discovery of a feral child who’s grown up wild in the forest in late 18th- century France. Truffaut plays Dr. Jean Itard, a deaf-mute specialist who tries to civilize the boy, teaching him to walk, speak, and read. The story is one of Truffaut’s most unusual, but it does deal with a key concern of Truffaut’s-reforming childhood institutions and care.

Bed and Board. Thu, Dec 19, 3 pm (AA) $7, $8. Fri, Dec 20, 5:30 pm (AA) $9, $11.

Bed and Board (Domicile conjugal) (1970, 97 min.). The fourth installment in Truffaut’s chronicle of the ardent, anachronistic Antoine Doinel, Bed and Board plunges his hapless creation once again into crisis. Expecting his first child and still struggling to find steady employment, Doinel (Jean-Pierre Léaud) involves himself in a relationship with a beautiful Japanese woman that threatens to destroy his marriage. Lightly comic, with a touch of the burlesque, Bed and Board is a bittersweet look at the travails of young married life.

Day for Night. Fri, Dec 20, 8 pm (AA) $9; $11.

Day for Night (La nuit américaine) (1973, 115 min.). Truffaut’s love letter to the cinema celebrates the high and lows of the moviemaking process. Truffaut plays Ferrand, a director busy on the set on his new film Meet Pamela, a cliché melodrama. Ferrand juggles the technical difficulties of moviemaking with the cast and crew’s array of personal problems that threaten to derail the project. A rich meditation on the connections between life and film, Day for Night is one of Truffaut’s most beloved works.

The Story of Adele H. Thu, Dec 19, 7:30 pm (AA) $9, $11. Fri, Dec 20, 3 pm (AA) $7, $8.

The Story of Adele H. (L’histoire d’Adèle H.) (1975, 96 min.). Truffaut beautifully adapts the writings of Victor Hugo’s daughter, Adele, into a tale of love and despair. Adele travels the globe in order to be close to Lieutenant Pinson despite the fact he no longer loves her. Her unrequited obsession leads to a self-destructive madness. This psychological drama stands as one of Truffaut’s darkest works with a revelatory performance from a 19-year-old Isabelle Adjani at its core. In English and French with English subtitles.

Small Change. Sat, Dec 21, 10:30 am (AA) $7, $8. Thu, Dec 26, 5:30 pm (RA) $9, $11.

Small Change (L’argent de poche) (1976, 104 min.) This poignant and humorous film is separated into vignettes, each seen from the point of view of a child. At his best when directing stories about children, Truffaut looks objectively at the joys and pains of everyday life from a double date at the movies to a child so poor he wears the same sweater to school every day. “One of the year’s most intensely, warmly, human films . . . . What other contemporary filmmaker is so firmly in touch with the personal rhythms of life?” (Roger Ebert).

The Man Who Loved Women. Sat, Dec 21, 1 pm (AA) $9, $11.

The Man Who Loved Women (L’homme qui aimait les femmes) (1977, 120 min.). The life and death of Bertrand Morane, a serial womanizer, allows Truffaut to explore the intricacies of romantic relationships, a theme he has revisited throughout his career. Why is Morane incapable of having a long-term relationship? Does he secretly dislike women and consider them interchangeable, or is his enthusiasm a kind of celebration? “A supremely humane, sophisticated comedy . . . it’s so curiously contemporary that it may be ahead of its time” (The New York Times).

The Green Room. Sat, Dec 21, 3:30 pm (AA) $9, $11. Sun, Dec 22, 10:30 am (RA) $7, $8.

The Green Room (La chambre verte) (1978, 94 min.). Based on two short stories by Henry James, Truffaut stars in the central role of a 1920s provincial journalist mourning his wife’s death and the loss of friends during World War I. He creates a memorial for them in an old chapel, and it becomes an obsession that takes its physical and spiritual toll. One of Truffaut’s most curious and darkly provocative works, The Green Room received near unanimous praise upon its release. ” . . . not a movie you’ll easily forget. It is a most demanding, original work and one must meet it on its own terms” (The New York Times).

Love on the Run. Thu, Dec 26, 3 pm (RA) $7, $8. Fri, Dec 27, 8 pm (RA) $9, $11.

Love on the Run (L’amour en fuite) (1979, 95 min.) In the final chapter of Antoine Doinel’s saga, we find him convivially concluding his marriage, enjoying moderate success as a novelist, and clinging to his romantic fantasies. The newly single Doinel finds a new object of his affections in Sabine, a record store salesgirl whom he pursues with the fervid belief that without love, one is nothing. Along the way, he renews his acquaintance with previous loves and confronts his own chaotic past.

Woman Next Door. Thu, Dec 26, 8 pm (RA) $9, $11. Fri, Dec 27, 5:30 pm (RA) $9, $11.

The Woman Next Door (La femme d’à côté) (1981, 106 min.). Guilt, passion, and obsession: These are three themes that Truffaut (and, of course, Hitchcock), returns to again and again. Truffaut casts Gérard Depardieu as Bernard, a happily married man whose life is knocked askew when Philippe and Mathilde move in next door- and Mathilde proves to be Bernard’s long-ago lover. “[Truffaut] does a brilliant job of giving surface details that are almost starkly simple, while beneath the surface there’s a labyrinthine tangle of passions” (Roger Ebert).

Confidentially Yours. Fri, Dec 27, 3 pm (RA) $7, $8. Sat, Dec 28, Noon (RA) $7, $8.

Confidentially Yours (Vivement dimanche!) (1983, 110 min.). In Truffaut’s delightfully entertaining tribute to Hitchcock, a businessman is wrongly accused of murder, and while he goes on the lam his secretary tries to find the real killer. Gorgeous black-and-white photography and a witty screenplay make the director’s last film one of his most enjoyable.

The Last Metro. Sat, Dec 28, 2:30 pm (RA) $9, $11.

The Last Metro (Le dernier métro) (1980, 131 min.). Gérard Depardieu and Catherine Deneuve star as members of a French theater company living under the German occupation during World War II in this gripping, humanist character study. Against all odds-a Jewish theater manager in hiding; a leading man who’s in the Resistance; increasingly restrictive Nazi oversight-the troupe believes the show must go on. Equal parts romance, historical tragedy, and even comedy, The Last Metro is Truffaut’s ultimate tribute to art overcoming adversity.


Tickets may be purchased at www.mfa.org/film, by calling the MFA Ticketing Line at 800.440.6975, or in person at any MFA ticket desk. Where two prices are listed, the first is discounted for members, seniors, and students; the second is full price.

The MFA is located on the Avenue of the Arts at 465 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02115. Screenings are in Remis Auditorium (RA) in the Linde Family Wing or Alfond Auditorium (AA) in the Art of the Americas Wing. Remis Auditorium is convenient to both the Huntington and State Street Corporation Fenway entrances. Alfond is accessed most easily from the Fenway entrance.

The Ruth and Carl J. Shapiro Film Program at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, is funded by the Carl and Ruth Shapiro Family Foundation.

Film at the MFA is sponsored by Bank of America. [cid:3466425100_1347227].

Also made possible with endowment support from the Katharine Stone White Film Fund, the Museum Film Program Endowment Fund, the Dean W. Freed Fund, the Marilyn and Selwyn Kudisch Endowed Fund for the Benefit of the Film Program, the MFA Associates and MFA Senior Associates Fund for Film and Video, and the Margaret L. Hargrove Fund. A gift from an anonymous Friend of Film makes program notes for select events possible. Visits by film and video artists are made possible by the Richard and Susan Smith Family Foundation Fund and by The Lowell Institute.

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