JULES ET JIM

Two friends fall for the same woman (Jeanne Moreau) in this effervescent French drama set at the time of the Great War.

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Introduction

“Telling an historical story, Truffaut was able to indulge himself in some of the cinematic pleasures of that genre, at the same time speaking directly to the contemporary consciousness.”
James Monaco, Cinema: A Critical Dictionary, 1980

For his third film, after Les Quatre Cents Coups (1959) and Shoot the Pianist (1961) had established him as one of French cinema’s brightest new talents, François Truffaut turned to a semi-autobiographical novel by Henri-Pierre Roché about a love triangle.

Typically for the early films associated with the French New Wave, Truffaut incorporated an array of cinematic devices to tell the by turns joyous and tragic story of Catherine (Moreau) and the two title characters who live with her (Oskar Werner and Henri Serre respectively). Archaic editing transitions such as irises and wipes bring to mind silent comedy, while Truffaut’s spontaneous, open-air shooting recalls the work of French master Jean Renoir. Jules et Jim remains one of the most enduringly popular films of the New Wave.

Truffaut returned to the theme of menage à trois for Deux Anglaises et le Continent (1971), again adapted from the work of Henri-Pierre Roché.

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