Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Quote of the Day (Francois Truffaut, Capturing What Sounds Like His Style)

“When humor can be made to alternate with melancholy, one has a success, but when the same things are funny and melancholic at the same time, it's just wonderful.”—French director Francois Truffaut (1932-1984), Jan. 15, 1980, published in Letters (1989), edited by Gilles Jacob and Claude De Givray

On this date 25 years ago, the film world grew a little darker, as Francois Truffaut died from a brain tumor at age 52. If he had only lived a normal lifespan! Just think—his film career had already lasted 25 years. An additional quarter century would mean he could have doubled his output.

Ah, film fans, why be greedy? The great critic-turned-leader of the French “new wave” had already created one of the great modern filmographies, including The 400 Blows, Jules and Jim, and The Last Metro—movies reflecting his preoccupations with childhood, relations between the sexes, and the passion for cinema that had saved his life as a troubled teen. Even his unintended swan song, Confidentially Yours, starring his lover, Fanny Ardant, is a fun homage to Hollywood film noir.

Above all, turn to Day for Night, his 1973 valentine to the mad, beautiful world of filmmaking. There is just one term for it—wonderful—and it won him a much-deserved Oscar for Best Foreign Language Picture.

Above all, with his deeply humane sensibility, Truffaut offered an example of how to produce an entire oeuvre of personal filmmaking: Work as often as possible, and remember--if it doesn't matter to you, the director, it won't matter to anyone else.

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