Jules and Jim (Jules et Jim)
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Arguably Francois Truffaut's best film, certainly one of the most beloved, Jules and Jim (1962) remains, nearly 45 years later, as innovative and vibrant as it was to 1962 audiences who were just discovering the New Wave.
In the mid-50's, Truffaut picked up a secondhand copy of Jules and Jim, the first novel by 74-year old Henri-Pierre Roche bohemian who had been friendly with many important artists at the early years of the century. The novel was autobiographical, the story of the friendship between a Frenchman and an Austrian, and their mutual love for a fascinating woman, in the years just before and after World War I. Truffaut realized it had the makings of a great film, but, still a critic, he didn't feel ready to make it...yet.
By 1961, with two films under his belt, Truffaut was ready. He had an excellent script, and a leading lady worthy of it - Jeanne Moreau. As the mercurial Catherine, Moreau dominates the film, with strong support from Oskar Werner as Jules, and Henri Serre as Jim. The film's style is as expressive as the actors. In the first half, the pre-war scenes, the rhythm of the film, camera movement, editing, and music -- are spontaneous and ebullient. The second half is subdued, elegiac, as the characters experience disillusion and loss.
Critic Pauline Kael describes Jules and Jim as "a work of lyric poetry, and a fable of the world as playground, a work of art as complex and suggestive in its way as the painting and poetry and novels and music of the period that it is based on. It is a tribute to the school of Paris when art and Paris were synonymous; filmically it is a new school of Paris - and the new school of Paris is cinema."
In 1980 director Paul Mazursky paid homage to Jules and Jim in his film, Willie and Phil which began with two men (Michael Ontkean & Ray Sharkey) befriending each other at a screening of the Truffaut film and then meeting and falling in love with the same, free-spirited woman (Margot Kidder). The film was not well received by audiences but it was certainly a testiment to the durability of the original film.
Director: Francois Truffaut
Producer: Marcel Berbert
Screenplay: Francois Truffaut, Jean Gruault (based on the novel by Henri-Pierre Roche)
Cinematography: Raoul Coutard
Editing: Claudine Bouche
Music: Georges Delerue
Cast: Jeanne Moreau (Catherine), Oskar Werner (Jules), Henri Serre (Jim), Marie Debois (Therese), Vanna Urbino (Gilberte), Boris Bassiak (Albert).
In French with English subtitles
by Margarita Landazuri