Please note: This article is published as an archive copy from Philadelphia City Paper. My City Paper is not affiliated with Philadelphia City Paper. Philadelphia City Paper was an alternative weekly newspaper in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The last edition was published on October 8, 2015.

December 2–9, 1999

movies

The films of François Truffaut

In April, Jeanne Moreau and Jean-Pierre Léaud spoke on the occasion of Lincoln Center’s comprehensive tribute to the films of François Truffaut, and a pared-down four-film retrospective shown at the Ritz at the Bourse. With The 400 Blows and Jules and Jim set for a repeat appearance at the Ritz 16, here’s some of that interview.

Jean-Pierre Léaud and Jeanne Moreau have extensive careers, but both are most closely associated with characters they created with Truffaut: Léaud with Antoine Doinel, the Truffaut surrogate introduced in The 400 Blows, and Moreau with the headstrong Catherine of Jules and Jim.

"Filming Antoine Doinel," Léaud recalls in French, "was a sort of complicity between François and myself. He knew how I was going to move my arms, how I was going to open my eyes. In the beginning, I didn’t really know who François Truffaut was. But when I saw the finished film, I burst into tears, and I recognized my own story in his."

It was in Moreau that Truffaut found the fullest embodiment of his ambivalent attraction-repulsion to strong and independent women. Today it seems clear that Jules and Jim was Truffaut’s valentine to everything he loved — and feared — in Moreau. She agrees. "I’m sure it’s true, and maybe that’s why through storm and calm our friendship went on. He loved women, he loved what was feminine. He needed it." But she counters that the film ends with Catherine finally contained. "Everybody forgets that at the end, two of them die, and Jules is left behind. And," she says ruefully, "he is relieved: That passion was too much."

Although she couldn’t have predicted what an icon the character of Catherine would become, Moreau says, "I knew we were doing something very special and very graceful. I had no idea the effect it would have on people, but I knew the effect it had on me. I thought, at last someone understands that when people say, ‘I’ll love you forever,’ it’s a lie. I knew it was a lie from the beginning, since I was a child, and suddenly I had the luck to give life to a character who expresses interests for two different men, and that didn’t mean she didn’t love both."s

Sam Adams

Playing at the Ritz 16.

See Showtimes more information. The complete interview is available online.

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