The Lost Secret
Publication Year: 2013
For François Truffaut, the lost secret of cinematic art is in the ability to generate emotion and reveal repressed fantasies through cinematic representation. Available in English for the first time, Anne Gillain's François Truffaut: The Lost Secret is considered by many to be the best book on the interpretation of Truffaut's films. Taking a psycho-biographical approach, Gillain shows how Truffaut's creative impulse was anchored in his personal experience of a traumatic childhood that left him lonely and emotionally deprived. In a series of brilliant, nuanced readings of each of his films, she demonstrates how involuntary memories arising from Truffaut's childhood not only furnish a succession of motifs that are repeated from film to film, but also govern every aspect of his mise en scène and cinematic technique.
Published by: Indiana University Press
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Preface to the English Edition of François Truffaut: The Lost Secret
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...of François Truffaut: le secret perdu twenty years after it came out in France. I am most grateful to Alistair Fox for his impeccable work as a translator and for his presentation of my book in a most illuminating introduction. I would like to add a few words, first to explain what prompted me to write this book at the time and also briefly to account for the additional insights ...
Emotion and the Authorial Fantasmatic: An Introduction to the English Edition of Anne Gillian’s François Truffaut: The Lost Secret
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Few would dispute the view that François Truffaut was one of the most important influences on cinema in the twentieth century, both as a film-maker in his own right and as a critic. As one of the young “firebrands” associated with the journal Cahiers du cinéma in the 1950s, he attacked the conventional practices of the so-called “cinema of quality” in France, ...
Preface to the Original French Edition: One Secret Can Hide Another
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We were sharing a light lunch, settled in a corner of his sitting room at la rue Pierre 1er-de-Serbie, which reminded me of that of Mila Parély in The Rules of the Game, surrounded by small-scale models of the Eiffel Tower and large windows, through which one could see the tower itself, served by Ahmed, his severe major-domo, who, in spite of our gross jokes, we ...
Introduction: The Secret of the Art
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...past were the guardians of a lost secret, a nostalgia which haunted him. His achievement, having studied the art of his predecessors, was to know how to replicate this secret in his films. Since the appearance of his first film, The 400 Blows, Truffaut’s work has moved audiences of all nationali-ties, ages, and cultures around the world. Thirty years after its creation, ...
1 Family Secrets: The 400 Blows (1959), The Woman Next Door (1981)
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...analytical interpretation. It would be a mistake to view this as merely ac-cidental. Emanating from the unconscious experience of the filmmaker, they manifest, as naturally as a patient on an analyst’s couch, the grand Freudian scenarios – in particular, the fundamental Oedipal one.One can compare this scenario to a play in three acts. The first be-...
2 Deceptions: Shoot the Piano Player (1960), The Soft Skin (1964)
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...men who are uncomfortable with who they are; a meeting with a new woman, the hope of renewal . . . and, at the end of each story, two gun-shots that echo one another. With Shoot the Piano Player and The Soft Skin, separated by only three years, the filmmaker anatomizes both the faking of success and the faking of a couple’s relationship. There is lit-...
3 Queen-Women: Jules and Jim (1962), The Last Metro (1980)
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...little in common apart from an adulterous schema involving one woman and two men. While it is central in the first film, this situation remains marginal in the second one, which depicts the activities of a theater un-der the Nazi Occupation. Moreover, there is a contrast between black-and-white and color, between the adaptation of a novel and an original ...
4 Sentimental Educations: Stolen Kisses (1968), Two English Girls (1971)
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...any more than he anticipated the failure of Two English Girls. He thought I nearly abandoned Stolen Kisses a fortnight before shooting began, I was so ashamed of it, and felt so uncomfortable. I already had the scripts for The Wild Child and Mississippi Mermaid. I said to myself: really, I have two good scripts to shoot; there are magnificent novels to tackle, and in two weeks I am going to ...
5 Criminal Women: The Bride Wore Black (1967), A Gorgeous Girl Like Me (1972)
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Girl Like Me begins: namely, in a prison. Julie Kohler and Camille Bliss have both burned their bridges with society and have taken the plunge that tips them from marginality into criminality. Their respective fates are as different as the tone of the films they inhabit, but whether virgin or prostitute, silent or loquacious, they both pursue the impulse of an ...
6 In Search of the Father: Fahrenheit 451 (1966), Day for Night (1973)
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...of a small human community, the function and organization of which are clearly delimited. The team of firemen and the film crew both have their head (captain/director), their base (fire station/hotel), their equip-ment (cranes and trucks), their work-instruments (flame-thrower/cam-era), and their goal (to achieve their respective missions). The first burns ...
7 Marriages: Mississippi Mermaid (1969), Bed and Board (1970)
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I class myself among the group of directors for whom cinema is an extension of youth, who, just like children who have been sent to play in a corner and remake the world with toys, continue to play as adults by making films. This is what I call “cinema from the room at the back,” involving a refusal to accept life as it is, or the world in its real state and, in reaction, an acceptance of the need to re-create ...
8 Words and Things: The Wild Child (1970), The Story of Adèle H. (1975)
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...who still does not have a name, is placed in an institution for deaf-mutes. That night, in the dormitory, being unable to bear the sheets and mattress, he hides under the bed to sleep. At the end of The Story of Adèle H., Victor Hugo’s daughter, who no longer knows who she is, takes refuge in an asylum for the night and, terrified that some-...
9 The Child King: Small Change (1976), Love on the Run (1979)
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...ways, both deal with the past, reassembling fragments of a childhood, a time of life, an experience. Of the sketches that make up Small Change,only the final one (the summer camp) is directly autobiographical. The others are snippets of stories found in newspapers, invented, or borrowed from others. Nevertheless, this film seems in many respects to be like a ...
10 Fetishism and Mourning: The Man Who Loved Women (1977), The Green Room (1978)
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Small Change and Love on the Run. The two films that frame them, how-ever, The Man Who Loved Women and The Green Room, are among the films in Truffaut’s oeuvre that most powerfully and tragically address the problem of the relationship between the son and the mother, and the oppressive constraints that its failure imposes on the mature adult. ...
11 The Role of Play: Confidentially Yours (1983)
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...from his hide; a rifle shot, the hunter collapses, his face covered in blood. This is how Confidentially Yours begins. Massoulier is dead. Those who are familiar with Truffaut’s films know him without ever having seen him: his name appears recurrently from the time of The Bride Wore Black– Massoulier is Corey’s friend, from whose dialogue we learn that Mas-...
Conclusion: The Art of the Secret
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...can serve as a paradigm for understanding Truffaut’s narrative proce-dure. Instead of explicit and abstract information, we find an indirect re-sponse formulated in a metaphoric, figurative language. Puzzling at first sight, it can be exposed through an imaginative and ingenious analysis. It requires the interlocutor to engage in mental gymnastics that disobey ...
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Page Count: 374
Illustrations: 40 b&w illus.
Publication Year: 2013