"I am a French filmmaker who has thirty films to shoot in the years to come: some will succeed, others not, and it’s just about all the same to me, as long as I can make them."

François Truffaut, 1966


"Ultimately one makes the films one can love as a viewer. The cinema helped me endure life when I was an adolescent, it pleased me as an escape. That escape could only work through identification. I had a horror of costume films, for instance. Well, as a filmmaker I make the films I saw when I was thirteen, fourteen years old, that’s to say, with people in the wrong, weak, all fouled up, hiding out, always keeping aloof from groups, films with which it is easy to identify and which drag you into a kind of escapism that is nonetheless quite close to real life."
François TruffautFebruary 6, 1932 — October 21, 1984

"Ultimately one makes the films one can love as a viewer. The cinema helped me endure life when I was an adolescent, it pleased me as an escape. That escape could only work through identification. I had a horror of costume films, for instance. Well, as a filmmaker I make the films I saw when I was thirteen, fourteen years old, that’s to say, with people in the wrong, weak, all fouled up, hiding out, always keeping aloof from groups, films with which it is easy to identify and which drag you into a kind of escapism that is nonetheless quite close to real life."

François Truffaut
February 6, 1932 — October 21, 1984

JEANNE MOREAU: A LUMINOUS MEMORY
François Truffaut, 1979

The woman is passionate, the actress is passionately enthralling. If I imagine her at a distance, I do not see her reading a newspaper but a book.

Jeanne Moreau doesn’t make you think of a flirtation but of love.

Unlike so many actors and actresses who can’t manage to act except by means of conflicts and tensions, to the point of sometimes confusing “concentration” with those camps of sinister memory, Jeanne Moreau is at her best in a merry and tender working environment, which she does her bit to create and which she helps preserve even when there are powerful emotions to be projected. Generosity, ardor, complicity, comprehension of human fragility: all that can be read on the screen when Jeanne Moreau is acting.

In all my twenty years of cinema, the filming of Jules and Jim, thanks to Jeanne Moreau, remains a luminous memory, the most luminous.

FILMMAKERS ON JEAN-LUC GODARD
Chantal Akerman: You can see him excluding himself from the world in an almost autistic manner. For people like me, who started doing film because of him, it is a terrible fright. And the fact that the long evolution that Godard has been through can lead to this, almost brings me to despair. He was kind of a pioneer, an inventor who didn’t care much about anybody or anything. And that a man at this stage of his life isolates himself, should also be a lesson for us other film makers. 
Woody Allen: I think he’s a brilliant innovator. I don’t always love every film he’s made. I think he’s very inventive, but sometimes his inventions are taken by other people and used better. But he’s certainly one of the innovators of cinema.
Paul Thomas Anderson: I love Godard in a very film school way. I can’t say that I’ve ever been emotionally attacked by him. Where I have been emotionally attacked by Truffaut.
Michelangelo Antonioni: Godard flings reality in our faces, and I’m struck by this. But never by Truffaut.
Ingmar Bergman: I’ve never been able to appreciate any of his films, nor even understand them. Truffaut and I used to meet on several occasions at film festivals. We had an instant understanding that extended to his films. But Godard: I find his films affected, intellectual, self-obsessed and, as cinema, without interest and frankly dull. Endless and tiresome. Godard is a desperate bore. I’ve always thought that he made films for critics. He made one here in Sweden, Masculin Féminin, so boring that my hair stood on end.
Luis Buñuel: I’ll give him two years more, he is just a fashion.
Jean-Luc Godard: I am not an auteur, well, not now anyway. We once believed we were auteurs but we weren’t. We had no idea, really. Film is over. It’s sad nobody is really exploring it. But what to do? And anyway, with mobile phones and everything, everyone is now an auteur.
Werner Herzog: Someone like Jean-Luc Godard is for me intellectual counterfeit money when compared to a good kung fu film.
Fritz Lang: I like him a great deal: he is very honest, he loves the cinema, he is just as fanatical as I was. In fact, I think he tries to continue what we started one day, the day when we began making our first films. Only his approach is different. Not the spirit. 
Roman Polanski: In fact the worst thing possible is to be absolutely certain about things. Hitler, for example, must have been convinced in the certainty of his ideas and that he was right. I don’t think he did anything without believing in it, otherwise he wouldn’t have done it to start with. And I think Jean-Luc Godard believes he makes good films, but maybe they aren’t that good.
Satyajit Ray: Godard especially opened up new ways of… making points, let us say. And he shook the foundations of film grammar in a very healthy sort of way, which is excellent.
Quentin Tarantino: To me, Godard did to movies what Bob Dylan did to music: they both revolutionized their forms.
François Truffaut: You’re nothing but a piece of shit on a pedestal. […] You fostered the myth, you accentuated that side of you that was mysterious, inaccessible and temperamental, all for the slavish admiration of those around you. You need to play a role and the role needs to be a prestigious one; I’ve always had the impression that real militants are like cleaning women, doing a thankless, daily but necessary job. But you, you’re the Ursula Andress of militancy, you make a brief appearance, just enough time for the cameras to flash, you make two or three duly startling remarks and then you disappear again, trailing clouds of self-serving mystery.
Orson Welles: He’s the definitive influence if not really the first film artist of this last decade, and his gifts as a director are enormous. I just can’t take him very seriously as a thinker—and that’s where we seem to differ, because he does. His message is what he cares about these days, and, like most movie messages, it could be written on the head of a pin. But what’s so admirable about him is his marvelous contempt for the machinery of movies and even movies themselves—a kind of anarchistic, nihilistic contempt for the medium—which, when he’s at his best and most vigorous, is very exciting.
Wim Wenders: For me, discovering cinema was directly connected to his films. I was living in Paris at the time. When Made in USA opened, I went to the first show—it was around noon—and I sat there until midnight. I saw it six times in a row.

FILMMAKERS ON JEAN-LUC GODARD

Chantal Akerman: You can see him excluding himself from the world in an almost autistic manner. For people like me, who started doing film because of him, it is a terrible fright. And the fact that the long evolution that Godard has been through can lead to this, almost brings me to despair. He was kind of a pioneer, an inventor who didn’t care much about anybody or anything. And that a man at this stage of his life isolates himself, should also be a lesson for us other film makers. 

Woody Allen: I think he’s a brilliant innovator. I don’t always love every film he’s made. I think he’s very inventive, but sometimes his inventions are taken by other people and used better. But he’s certainly one of the innovators of cinema.

Paul Thomas Anderson: I love Godard in a very film school way. I can’t say that I’ve ever been emotionally attacked by him. Where I have been emotionally attacked by Truffaut.

Michelangelo Antonioni: Godard flings reality in our faces, and I’m struck by this. But never by Truffaut.

Ingmar Bergman: I’ve never been able to appreciate any of his films, nor even understand them. Truffaut and I used to meet on several occasions at film festivals. We had an instant understanding that extended to his films. But Godard: I find his films affected, intellectual, self-obsessed and, as cinema, without interest and frankly dull. Endless and tiresome. Godard is a desperate bore. I’ve always thought that he made films for critics. He made one here in Sweden, Masculin Féminin, so boring that my hair stood on end.

Luis Buñuel: I’ll give him two years more, he is just a fashion.

Jean-Luc Godard: I am not an auteur, well, not now anyway. We once believed we were auteurs but we weren’t. We had no idea, really. Film is over. It’s sad nobody is really exploring it. But what to do? And anyway, with mobile phones and everything, everyone is now an auteur.

Werner Herzog: Someone like Jean-Luc Godard is for me intellectual counterfeit money when compared to a good kung fu film.

Fritz Lang: I like him a great deal: he is very honest, he loves the cinema, he is just as fanatical as I was. In fact, I think he tries to continue what we started one day, the day when we began making our first films. Only his approach is different. Not the spirit.

Roman Polanski: In fact the worst thing possible is to be absolutely certain about things. Hitler, for example, must have been convinced in the certainty of his ideas and that he was right. I don’t think he did anything without believing in it, otherwise he wouldn’t have done it to start with. And I think Jean-Luc Godard believes he makes good films, but maybe they aren’t that good.

Satyajit Ray: Godard especially opened up new ways of… making points, let us say. And he shook the foundations of film grammar in a very healthy sort of way, which is excellent.

Quentin Tarantino: To me, Godard did to movies what Bob Dylan did to music: they both revolutionized their forms.

François Truffaut: You’re nothing but a piece of shit on a pedestal. […] You fostered the myth, you accentuated that side of you that was mysterious, inaccessible and temperamental, all for the slavish admiration of those around you. You need to play a role and the role needs to be a prestigious one; I’ve always had the impression that real militants are like cleaning women, doing a thankless, daily but necessary job. But you, you’re the Ursula Andress of militancy, you make a brief appearance, just enough time for the cameras to flash, you make two or three duly startling remarks and then you disappear again, trailing clouds of self-serving mystery.

Orson Welles: He’s the definitive influence if not really the first film artist of this last decade, and his gifts as a director are enormous. I just can’t take him very seriously as a thinker—and that’s where we seem to differ, because he does. His message is what he cares about these days, and, like most movie messages, it could be written on the head of a pin. But what’s so admirable about him is his marvelous contempt for the machinery of movies and even movies themselves—a kind of anarchistic, nihilistic contempt for the medium—which, when he’s at his best and most vigorous, is very exciting.

Wim Wenders: For me, discovering cinema was directly connected to his films. I was living in Paris at the time. When Made in USA opened, I went to the first show—it was around noon—and I sat there until midnight. I saw it six times in a row.


François Truffaut on the set of Fahrenheit 451.

François Truffaut on the set of Fahrenheit 451.

The 400 Blows (dir. François Truffaut - 1959)
Ako / White Morning (dir. Hiroshi Teshigahara - 1965)


"I saw my first two hundred films on the sly, playing hooky and slipping into the movie house without paying—through the emergency exit or the washroom window—or by taking advantage of my parents’ going out for an evening (I had to be in bed, pretending to be asleep, when they came home). I paid for these great pleasures with stomachaches, cramps, nervous headaches and guilty feelings, which only heightened the emotions evoked by the films. I felt a tremendous need to enter into the films. I sat closer and closer to the screen so I could shut out the theater. […]  At that period in my life, movies acted on me like a drug. The film club I founded in 1947 was called—somewhat pretentiously but revealingly—the Movie-mania Club (Cercle Cinémane). Sometimes I saw the same film four or five times within a month and could still not recount the story line correctly because, at one moment or another, the swelling of the music, a chase through the night, the actress’s tears, would intoxicate me, make me lose track of what was going on, carry me away from the rest of the movie.”
François TruffautFebruary 6, 1932 — October 21, 1984

"I saw my first two hundred films on the sly, playing hooky and slipping into the movie house without paying—through the emergency exit or the washroom window—or by taking advantage of my parents’ going out for an evening (I had to be in bed, pretending to be asleep, when they came home). I paid for these great pleasures with stomachaches, cramps, nervous headaches and guilty feelings, which only heightened the emotions evoked by the films. I felt a tremendous need to enter into the films. I sat closer and closer to the screen so I could shut out the theater. […]  At that period in my life, movies acted on me like a drug. The film club I founded in 1947 was called—somewhat pretentiously but revealingly—the Movie-mania Club (Cercle Cinémane). Sometimes I saw the same film four or five times within a month and could still not recount the story line correctly because, at one moment or another, the swelling of the music, a chase through the night, the actress’s tears, would intoxicate me, make me lose track of what was going on, carry me away from the rest of the movie.”

François Truffaut
February 6, 1932 — October 21, 1984

Japanese poster for François Truffaut’s Fahrenheit 451.

Japanese poster for François Truffaut’s Fahrenheit 451.

François TruffautI’d like to have your definition of the difference between “suspense” and “surprise.”Alfred HitchcockThere is a distinct difference between “suspense” and “surprise,” and yet many pictures continually confuse the two. I’ll explain what I mean.    We are now having a little chat. Let us suppose that there is a bomb underneath this table between us. Nothing happens, and then all of a sudden, “Boom!” There is an explosion. The public is surprised, but prior to this surprise, it has seen an absolutely ordinary scene, of no special consequence. Now, let us take a suspense situation. The bomb is underneath the table and the public knows it, probably because they have seen the anarchist place it there. The public is aware that the bomb is going to explode at one o’clock and there is a clock in the decor. The public can see that it is a quarter to one. In these conditions this same innocuous conversation becomes fascinating because the public is participating in the scene. The audience is longing to warn the characters on screen: “You shouldn’t be talking about such trivial matters. There’s a bomb beneath you and it’s about to explode!”    In the first case we have given the public fifteen seconds of surprise at the moment of the explosion. In the second we have provided them with fifteen minutes of suspense. The conclusion is that whenever possible the public must be informed. Except when the surprise is a twist, that is, when the unexpected ending is, in itself, the highlight of the story.

François Truffaut
I’d like to have your definition of the difference between “suspense” and “surprise.”

Alfred Hitchcock
There is a distinct difference between “suspense” and “surprise,” and yet many pictures continually confuse the two. I’ll explain what I mean.
    We are now having a little chat. Let us suppose that there is a bomb underneath this table between us. Nothing happens, and then all of a sudden, “Boom!” There is an explosion. The public is surprised, but prior to this surprise, it has seen an absolutely ordinary scene, of no special consequence. Now, let us take a suspense situation. The bomb is underneath the table and the public knows it, probably because they have seen the anarchist place it there. The public is aware that the bomb is going to explode at one o’clock and there is a clock in the decor. The public can see that it is a quarter to one. In these conditions this same innocuous conversation becomes fascinating because the public is participating in the scene. The audience is longing to warn the characters on screen: “You shouldn’t be talking about such trivial matters. There’s a bomb beneath you and it’s about to explode!”
    In the first case we have given the public fifteen seconds of surprise at the moment of the explosion. In the second we have provided them with fifteen minutes of suspense. The conclusion is that whenever possible the public must be informed. Except when the surprise is a twist, that is, when the unexpected ending is, in itself, the highlight of the story.

Day for Night // dir. François Truffaut

Day for Night // dir. François Truffaut