Jules and Jim


1h 45m 1962
Jules and Jim

Brief Synopsis

A tempestuous beauty comes between college friends.

Film Details

Also Known As
Jules et Jim
Genre
Romance
Drama
Foreign
Period
Adaptation
Release Date
Jan 1962
Premiere Information
New York opening: 23 Apr 1962
Production Company
Films du Carrosse; S. E. D. I. F.
Distribution Company
Janus Films
Country
France
Location
France
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Jules et Jim by Henri-Pierre Roché (Paris, 1953).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 45m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1

Synopsis

In Montparnasse during the early 1900's, Jules, a shy, serious German, and Jim, an easygoing Frenchman, form a solid friendship, sharing a common interest in the arts, sports, and women. On a visit to a Greek island, they discover a statue with a smile that fascinates them. Shortly after their return to Paris, they meet Catherine, a capricious and whimsical young woman whose smile reminds them of the statue. Both men fall in love with her, but Catherine marries Jules and returns with him to Germany. War breaks out, and the two friends, fighting on opposite sides, live in constant fear of shooting each other. After the armistice, Jim goes to Germany to visit Jules and Catherine and their 5-year-old daughter, Sabine. He discovers that Catherine has been having affairs with other men and has left Jules, returning after a number of months. Jules is uncertain that she will stay with him for long but remains willing to settle for the little attention his wife still shows him. In time, with Jules's assent, Catherine begins to have an affair with Jim. Though Jules gallantly offers to give Catherine a divorce, she grows dissatisfied with Jim when she fails to become pregnant. Jim returns to his mistress Gilberte in Paris, and one day meets Jules, who has returned with Catherine to live in France. The three of them have a reunion at a country restaurant, and Jim announces that he is planning to marry Gilberte. Later, Catherine asks Jim to come for a ride with her and drives away, shouting to Jules to watch closely. She goes a short distance down the road, turns onto a washed out bridge, and drives the car into the Seine. Jules makes funeral arrangements, sees the bodies of his wife and best friend cremated, and then silently leaves the cemetery.

Photo Collections

Jules and Jim - Movie Poster
Jules and Jim - Movie Poster

Videos

Movie Clip

Hosted Intro

Film Details

Also Known As
Jules et Jim
Genre
Romance
Drama
Foreign
Period
Adaptation
Release Date
Jan 1962
Premiere Information
New York opening: 23 Apr 1962
Production Company
Films du Carrosse; S. E. D. I. F.
Distribution Company
Janus Films
Country
France
Location
France
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Jules et Jim by Henri-Pierre Roché (Paris, 1953).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 45m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1

Articles

Jules and Jim


"I wanted to make a subversive film of total sweetness," Francois Truffaut said of his third - and arguably his greatest - feature film, Jules and Jim (1962). Truffaut especially liked the notion of turning the potentially scandalous story of a menage ˆ trios into a lyrical romance: "What amused me was that we were going to have a terribly original, daring situation that we would render plausible and acceptable to everyone within a framework like a pre-war MGM film, where people grow old peacefully in their homes in the company of their grandchildren."

Besides being an avid filmgoer as a teenager, Truffaut read a great deal of literature and built up a substantial collection of books. Throughout his life he liked to reread his favorite novels, marking up his copies with prodigious notes and underlining. Some of his favorite authors included Balzac, Proust, Cocteau, Celine and later Henri-Pierre Roche, whose 1953 novel Jules et Jim formed the basis for Truffaut's film. Roche (1879-1959) drew inspiration from his real-life love triangle with Franz Hessel and Helen Grund, whom Franz eventually married. During much of his life, Roche collected art and associated with many leading modern artists in the Parisian art scene, among them Marcel Duchamp and Pablo Picasso. He didn't publish Jules et Jim until he was already in his seventies and managed to complete only one more novel - Les Deux Anglaises et le continent (1956) before his death in 1959. (Truffaut adapted the latter work in 1971 as Two English Girls.) Roche's incomplete third novel, Victor, was published in 1977.

In his widely translated introduction to a subsequent edition of Jules et Jim, Truffaut noted that he first came across the book in 1955, a few years after its initial publication. He wrote: "I was discovering, in Henri-Pierre Roche, a writer who seemed to me to be stronger than Cocteau, for he achieved the same kind of poetic prose using a less extensive vocabulary, and making ultra-short sentences from everyday words. Through Roche's style emotion is born out of the void, the emptiness of all the rejected words, it's even born out of ellipsis." Truffaut further noted that Roche arrived at his unique style through a laborious process of weeding out any extraneous language, sometimes reducing an entire manuscript page to a handful of sentences. When Truffaut praised the novel in the middle of a film review--for an Edgar G. Ulmer Western, no less!--Roche wrote a letter in response and the two began regular correspondence.

Truffaut and Jean Gruault's screenplay for Jules and Jim went through a similar process of constant pruning and refinement. Gruault was a theater actor and had collaborated with Jacques Rivette on the script for the long-gestating Paris Belongs to Us (1961) before Truffaut sought him out for help with the adaptation. Truffaut was especially concerned about preserving the novel's distinctive language in the voiceover narration. For the initial drafts of the screenplay, Gruault literally cut and pasted sentences and entire passages from multiple copies of the novel onto pages of the script. Truffaut himself underlined passages that he wanted to keep. While attempting to remain faithful to the novel's style and its overall plot, Truffaut changed the story so that the character of Catherine (Kathe in the novel) made her first appearance earlier. In general, Truffaut and Gruault allowed themselves the freedom to shift some passages around and put dialogue in the mouths of different characters. They also excised a number of characters, condensing details from different female love interests into the single figure of Catherine. Despite all these changes, Helen Hessel--the real life Kathe/Catherine--wrote a letter to Truffaut after seeing the film, declaring that the director had somehow succeeded at capturing "the essential quality of our intimate emotions."

For the cast, Truffaut chose Henri Serre because of his physical resemblance to Roche and Oskar Werner because of his work in Max Ophuls' Lola Montes (1955), one of Truffaut's favorite films. The film's real star, Jeanne Moreau, was not only a gifted actress but had earned a reputation for a certain fearlessness thanks to the sexually explicit love scene in Louis Malle's The Lovers (1958). Truffaut decided to shoot the film almost entirely "wild," or without sound. The actors dubbed the dialogue in post-production, with the important exception of the musical performances by Boris Bassiak (Serge Rezvani) and Jeanne Moreau, which were recorded live. In a 2003 interview for the Criterion Collection DVD, the cinematographer Raoul Coutard stated that the film was shot with a Camiflex, a smaller, lighter camera model that allowed a great deal of flexibility during the shoot. For many scenes the only crew members present were Coutard, the focus puller and Truffaut. This allowed for a greater sense of emotional intimacy in the actors' performances.

Truffaut and his editor Claudine Bouche ultimately took nine months to edit the film, which is not surprising considering its numerous expansions and contractions of time and the delicate changes of mood it sets up throughout. Truffaut even had Michel Subor re-record parts of the voiceover narration to mesh better with Georges Delerue's score. Everyone's collective efforts evidently paid off, for the finished film has continued to captivate audiences worldwide ever since its first release.

Producer: Marcel Berbert (uncredited) and Francois Truffaut
Director: Francois Truffaut
Screenplay: Francois Truffaut and Jean Gruault
Director of Photography: Raoul Coutard
Production Design: Fred Capel (uncredited)
Film Editing: Claudine Bouche
Music: Georges Delerue
Script Supervisor: Suzanne Schiffman (uncredited)
Cast: Jeanne Moreau (Catherine), Oskar Werner (Jules), Henri Serre (Jim), Vanna Urbino (Gilberte), Boris Bassiak (Albert), Anny Nelsen (Lucie), Sabine Haudepin (Sabine), Marie Dubois (Therese), Michel Subor (Narrator).
BW-108m. Letterboxed.

by James Steffen

SOURCES:
De Baecque, Antoine and Serge Toubiana. Truffaut. Translated by Catherine Temerson. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1999.
Le Berre, Carole. Franois Truffaut at Work. Londond: Phaidon Press, 2005.
Roche, Henri-Pierre. Jules et Jim. Translated by Patrick Evans, with an introduction by Franois Truffaut. London and New York: Marion Boyars, 1993.
Jules And Jim

Jules and Jim

"I wanted to make a subversive film of total sweetness," Francois Truffaut said of his third - and arguably his greatest - feature film, Jules and Jim (1962). Truffaut especially liked the notion of turning the potentially scandalous story of a menage ˆ trios into a lyrical romance: "What amused me was that we were going to have a terribly original, daring situation that we would render plausible and acceptable to everyone within a framework like a pre-war MGM film, where people grow old peacefully in their homes in the company of their grandchildren." Besides being an avid filmgoer as a teenager, Truffaut read a great deal of literature and built up a substantial collection of books. Throughout his life he liked to reread his favorite novels, marking up his copies with prodigious notes and underlining. Some of his favorite authors included Balzac, Proust, Cocteau, Celine and later Henri-Pierre Roche, whose 1953 novel Jules et Jim formed the basis for Truffaut's film. Roche (1879-1959) drew inspiration from his real-life love triangle with Franz Hessel and Helen Grund, whom Franz eventually married. During much of his life, Roche collected art and associated with many leading modern artists in the Parisian art scene, among them Marcel Duchamp and Pablo Picasso. He didn't publish Jules et Jim until he was already in his seventies and managed to complete only one more novel - Les Deux Anglaises et le continent (1956) before his death in 1959. (Truffaut adapted the latter work in 1971 as Two English Girls.) Roche's incomplete third novel, Victor, was published in 1977. In his widely translated introduction to a subsequent edition of Jules et Jim, Truffaut noted that he first came across the book in 1955, a few years after its initial publication. He wrote: "I was discovering, in Henri-Pierre Roche, a writer who seemed to me to be stronger than Cocteau, for he achieved the same kind of poetic prose using a less extensive vocabulary, and making ultra-short sentences from everyday words. Through Roche's style emotion is born out of the void, the emptiness of all the rejected words, it's even born out of ellipsis." Truffaut further noted that Roche arrived at his unique style through a laborious process of weeding out any extraneous language, sometimes reducing an entire manuscript page to a handful of sentences. When Truffaut praised the novel in the middle of a film review--for an Edgar G. Ulmer Western, no less!--Roche wrote a letter in response and the two began regular correspondence. Truffaut and Jean Gruault's screenplay for Jules and Jim went through a similar process of constant pruning and refinement. Gruault was a theater actor and had collaborated with Jacques Rivette on the script for the long-gestating Paris Belongs to Us (1961) before Truffaut sought him out for help with the adaptation. Truffaut was especially concerned about preserving the novel's distinctive language in the voiceover narration. For the initial drafts of the screenplay, Gruault literally cut and pasted sentences and entire passages from multiple copies of the novel onto pages of the script. Truffaut himself underlined passages that he wanted to keep. While attempting to remain faithful to the novel's style and its overall plot, Truffaut changed the story so that the character of Catherine (Kathe in the novel) made her first appearance earlier. In general, Truffaut and Gruault allowed themselves the freedom to shift some passages around and put dialogue in the mouths of different characters. They also excised a number of characters, condensing details from different female love interests into the single figure of Catherine. Despite all these changes, Helen Hessel--the real life Kathe/Catherine--wrote a letter to Truffaut after seeing the film, declaring that the director had somehow succeeded at capturing "the essential quality of our intimate emotions." For the cast, Truffaut chose Henri Serre because of his physical resemblance to Roche and Oskar Werner because of his work in Max Ophuls' Lola Montes (1955), one of Truffaut's favorite films. The film's real star, Jeanne Moreau, was not only a gifted actress but had earned a reputation for a certain fearlessness thanks to the sexually explicit love scene in Louis Malle's The Lovers (1958). Truffaut decided to shoot the film almost entirely "wild," or without sound. The actors dubbed the dialogue in post-production, with the important exception of the musical performances by Boris Bassiak (Serge Rezvani) and Jeanne Moreau, which were recorded live. In a 2003 interview for the Criterion Collection DVD, the cinematographer Raoul Coutard stated that the film was shot with a Camiflex, a smaller, lighter camera model that allowed a great deal of flexibility during the shoot. For many scenes the only crew members present were Coutard, the focus puller and Truffaut. This allowed for a greater sense of emotional intimacy in the actors' performances. Truffaut and his editor Claudine Bouche ultimately took nine months to edit the film, which is not surprising considering its numerous expansions and contractions of time and the delicate changes of mood it sets up throughout. Truffaut even had Michel Subor re-record parts of the voiceover narration to mesh better with Georges Delerue's score. Everyone's collective efforts evidently paid off, for the finished film has continued to captivate audiences worldwide ever since its first release. Producer: Marcel Berbert (uncredited) and Francois Truffaut Director: Francois Truffaut Screenplay: Francois Truffaut and Jean Gruault Director of Photography: Raoul Coutard Production Design: Fred Capel (uncredited) Film Editing: Claudine Bouche Music: Georges Delerue Script Supervisor: Suzanne Schiffman (uncredited) Cast: Jeanne Moreau (Catherine), Oskar Werner (Jules), Henri Serre (Jim), Vanna Urbino (Gilberte), Boris Bassiak (Albert), Anny Nelsen (Lucie), Sabine Haudepin (Sabine), Marie Dubois (Therese), Michel Subor (Narrator). BW-108m. Letterboxed. by James Steffen SOURCES: De Baecque, Antoine and Serge Toubiana. Truffaut. Translated by Catherine Temerson. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1999. Le Berre, Carole. Franois Truffaut at Work. Londond: Phaidon Press, 2005. Roche, Henri-Pierre. Jules et Jim. Translated by Patrick Evans, with an introduction by Franois Truffaut. London and New York: Marion Boyars, 1993.

Jules and Jim (Jules et Jim)


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
BW-107m. Letterboxed

by Margarita Landazuri

Jules and Jim (Jules et Jim)

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 BW-107m. Letterboxed by Margarita Landazuri

Francois Truffaut's Jules and Jim on DVD


Synopsis: The long friendship of Jules and Jim, a German and a Frenchman, spans from 1912 to the 1930s. Pursuing an ideal of free love, they each have relations with various women. However, their lives are changed by the appearance of the mercurial and enigmatic Catherine. Jules marries her and they have a child together, but Catherine refuses to be tied down, pursuing relationships with other men--including Jim. Their unconventional path proves fraught with perils, emotional and otherwise.

Jules and Jim (1962) was Francois Truffaut's third feature and remains his finest work. The 1953 novel of the same name by Henri-Pierre Roche is now regarded as a minor classic of French literature and has been translated into many languages, but it is fair to say that it would have languished in relative obscurity if not for the international success of Truffaut's film. During his lifetime Henri-Pierre Roche (1879-1959) was known mainly as an art historian and collector, befriending the likes of Pablo Picasso and Marcel Duchamp. (Famously, it was Roche who introduced Picasso to Gertrude Stein.) The novel, written when Roche was already in his seventies, is noteworthy for its spare, almost telegraphic style. As has since become widely known, Jules and Jim was semi-autobiographical, its fictional trio mirroring Roche and his friends Franz and Helen Hessel. Roche's second--and last--novel, The Two English Girls and the Continent (1956) was adapted by Truffaut in 1971.

Truffaut's film of Jules and Jim differs from the novel in a few significant respects. Kathe, whose name indicates she is of German origin, has been transformed to the French "Catherine." As one might expect, some episodes have been deleted and others have been condensed or transposed. For example, the episode in which Catherine pours a bottle of vitriol down the sink was originally assigned to another character, Odile. But there is also deeper transformation at work, which has to do with fundamental differences between cinema and literature, differences to which Truffaut and his co-screenwriter Jean Gruault were keenly sensitive. While the great realist novelists of the nineteenth century--among them Balzac and Dickens--created a vivid impression of reality through the accumulation of external details, Roche is mainly concerned with expressing his protagonists' inner lives. In that respect, Roche represents a parallel novelistic tradition which goes back at least as far as Samuel Richardson's Pamela. However, Roche's deliberately spare style raises this focus on inner life to a remarkable degree of abstraction. For example, he devotes only a few lines to the First World War.

Truffaut and Gruault clearly appreciate what Roche is striving for, since the film opens on a black screen with a female voice reading: "You said to me: I love you. I said to you: wait. I was going to say: take me. You said to me: go away." (This passage was in fact taken from Two English Girls and the Continent.) On the soundtrack Truffaut also reads lengthy passages of voiceover narration taken directly from the novel. But the images that accompany the voiceover narration are necessarily more concrete in their handling of setting, costumes and behavior, lending the film a historical grounding that the novel pointedly avoids for the most part. While Roche barely mentions the war, Truffaut depicts it at length through stock combat footage combined with staged scenes. Thus Truffaut incorporates the two competing novelistic trends into an overarching cinematic vision.

Pauline Kael considered Jules and Jim "among the great lyric achievements of the screen," and I would have to agree. It's not just a question of Raoul Coutard's exquisite cinematography and Georges Delerue's haunting musical score; if that were the case, then Jules and Jim would be little more than a glorified perfume ad, something akin to Elvira Madigan (1967), albeit spiced up with a daring menage-a-trois. Rather, Truffaut's lyrical cinematic style, with its many aerial shots, zooms and freeze frames, enriches both the intimate and the historical dimensions of the film. In an oblique way, the personal trajectories of the main characters parallel the historical trajectory of Europe: the carefree years of the Belle Epoque--as refracted through the prism of nostalgia--progress, with many digressions, toward the bleak era after First World War, when Europe's illusions about itself had been shattered.

At the same time, Truffaut manages to convey the fluidity of time through his masterly use of voiceover narration and editing. In some places he compresses the passing years into a montage of fleeting images, including deftly interwoven stock footage; elsewhere he uses overlapping editing to expand single gestures in time, so that they loom large in our memory in the same way that they do for the characters. In this respect, Jules and Jim shares an underlying affinity with great Modernist writers such as Marcel Proust and William Faulkner and philosophers such as Jean-Paul Sartre: a concern with the passing of time and its impact on human consciousness. Ultimately, while Truffaut's debut feature The 400 Blows is in its own way a perfect film, Jules and Jim is far deeper and more resonant, deservedly counted among the greatest films ever made.

Criterion's new transfer, approved by cinematographer Raoul Coutard, is as luminous and delicate as one might expect. In particular, I was struck by how textures stand out in the settings and the characters' costumes. There are some minor scratches on the print, but nothing to hinder one's enjoyment. The mono sound is clean and clear.

The two-disc set contains a wealth of special features, including two separate commentary tracks: one with scholar Annette Insdorf and Truffaut's collaborators Jean Gruault, Suzanne Schiffmann and Claudine Bouche, and another with Jeanne Moreau and Serge Toubiana, co-author of the definitive Truffaut biography to date. Other features include excerpts from a 1985 documentary entitled The Key to Jules and Jim, a fascinating interview with descendants of Henri-Pierre Roche and Franz and Helen Hessel and various interviews with Truffaut, Coutard, and scholars Dudley Andrew and Robert Stam. The booklet contains a brief essay by John Powers and a reprint of Pauline Kael's marvelous review, which perfectly captures the spirit of the film. This set is a must for any DVD collection.

For more information about Jules and Jim, visit the Criterion Collection. To order Jules and Jim, go to TCM Shopping.

by James Steffen

Francois Truffaut's Jules and Jim on DVD

Synopsis: The long friendship of Jules and Jim, a German and a Frenchman, spans from 1912 to the 1930s. Pursuing an ideal of free love, they each have relations with various women. However, their lives are changed by the appearance of the mercurial and enigmatic Catherine. Jules marries her and they have a child together, but Catherine refuses to be tied down, pursuing relationships with other men--including Jim. Their unconventional path proves fraught with perils, emotional and otherwise. Jules and Jim (1962) was Francois Truffaut's third feature and remains his finest work. The 1953 novel of the same name by Henri-Pierre Roche is now regarded as a minor classic of French literature and has been translated into many languages, but it is fair to say that it would have languished in relative obscurity if not for the international success of Truffaut's film. During his lifetime Henri-Pierre Roche (1879-1959) was known mainly as an art historian and collector, befriending the likes of Pablo Picasso and Marcel Duchamp. (Famously, it was Roche who introduced Picasso to Gertrude Stein.) The novel, written when Roche was already in his seventies, is noteworthy for its spare, almost telegraphic style. As has since become widely known, Jules and Jim was semi-autobiographical, its fictional trio mirroring Roche and his friends Franz and Helen Hessel. Roche's second--and last--novel, The Two English Girls and the Continent (1956) was adapted by Truffaut in 1971. Truffaut's film of Jules and Jim differs from the novel in a few significant respects. Kathe, whose name indicates she is of German origin, has been transformed to the French "Catherine." As one might expect, some episodes have been deleted and others have been condensed or transposed. For example, the episode in which Catherine pours a bottle of vitriol down the sink was originally assigned to another character, Odile. But there is also deeper transformation at work, which has to do with fundamental differences between cinema and literature, differences to which Truffaut and his co-screenwriter Jean Gruault were keenly sensitive. While the great realist novelists of the nineteenth century--among them Balzac and Dickens--created a vivid impression of reality through the accumulation of external details, Roche is mainly concerned with expressing his protagonists' inner lives. In that respect, Roche represents a parallel novelistic tradition which goes back at least as far as Samuel Richardson's Pamela. However, Roche's deliberately spare style raises this focus on inner life to a remarkable degree of abstraction. For example, he devotes only a few lines to the First World War. Truffaut and Gruault clearly appreciate what Roche is striving for, since the film opens on a black screen with a female voice reading: "You said to me: I love you. I said to you: wait. I was going to say: take me. You said to me: go away." (This passage was in fact taken from Two English Girls and the Continent.) On the soundtrack Truffaut also reads lengthy passages of voiceover narration taken directly from the novel. But the images that accompany the voiceover narration are necessarily more concrete in their handling of setting, costumes and behavior, lending the film a historical grounding that the novel pointedly avoids for the most part. While Roche barely mentions the war, Truffaut depicts it at length through stock combat footage combined with staged scenes. Thus Truffaut incorporates the two competing novelistic trends into an overarching cinematic vision. Pauline Kael considered Jules and Jim "among the great lyric achievements of the screen," and I would have to agree. It's not just a question of Raoul Coutard's exquisite cinematography and Georges Delerue's haunting musical score; if that were the case, then Jules and Jim would be little more than a glorified perfume ad, something akin to Elvira Madigan (1967), albeit spiced up with a daring menage-a-trois. Rather, Truffaut's lyrical cinematic style, with its many aerial shots, zooms and freeze frames, enriches both the intimate and the historical dimensions of the film. In an oblique way, the personal trajectories of the main characters parallel the historical trajectory of Europe: the carefree years of the Belle Epoque--as refracted through the prism of nostalgia--progress, with many digressions, toward the bleak era after First World War, when Europe's illusions about itself had been shattered. At the same time, Truffaut manages to convey the fluidity of time through his masterly use of voiceover narration and editing. In some places he compresses the passing years into a montage of fleeting images, including deftly interwoven stock footage; elsewhere he uses overlapping editing to expand single gestures in time, so that they loom large in our memory in the same way that they do for the characters. In this respect, Jules and Jim shares an underlying affinity with great Modernist writers such as Marcel Proust and William Faulkner and philosophers such as Jean-Paul Sartre: a concern with the passing of time and its impact on human consciousness. Ultimately, while Truffaut's debut feature The 400 Blows is in its own way a perfect film, Jules and Jim is far deeper and more resonant, deservedly counted among the greatest films ever made. Criterion's new transfer, approved by cinematographer Raoul Coutard, is as luminous and delicate as one might expect. In particular, I was struck by how textures stand out in the settings and the characters' costumes. There are some minor scratches on the print, but nothing to hinder one's enjoyment. The mono sound is clean and clear. The two-disc set contains a wealth of special features, including two separate commentary tracks: one with scholar Annette Insdorf and Truffaut's collaborators Jean Gruault, Suzanne Schiffmann and Claudine Bouche, and another with Jeanne Moreau and Serge Toubiana, co-author of the definitive Truffaut biography to date. Other features include excerpts from a 1985 documentary entitled The Key to Jules and Jim, a fascinating interview with descendants of Henri-Pierre Roche and Franz and Helen Hessel and various interviews with Truffaut, Coutard, and scholars Dudley Andrew and Robert Stam. The booklet contains a brief essay by John Powers and a reprint of Pauline Kael's marvelous review, which perfectly captures the spirit of the film. This set is a must for any DVD collection. For more information about Jules and Jim, visit the Criterion Collection. To order Jules and Jim, go to TCM Shopping. by James Steffen

Quotes

We played with life and lost.
- Jim

Trivia

Notes

Location scenes filmed in Alsace, Paris, and Vence. Opened in Paris in January 1962 as Jules et Jim; running time: 110 min, also 105 min.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1992

Released in United States 1994

Released in United States 1999

Released in United States November 1989

Released in United States October 1999

Released in United States Spring April 23, 1962

Re-released in United States December 15, 2006

Shown at Alliance Francaise in New York City November 1 & 2, 1989.

Shown at Hamptons International Film Festival (World Cinema) October 20-24, 1999.

Shown at MOMA (Jeanne Moreau: Nouvelle Vague and Beyond) in New York City February 18 - March 25, 1994.

Shown in New York City (Cinema Village) as part of Janus Films 40th Anniversary Film Festival December 13, 1996 - January 2, 1997.

Formerly distributed on video by Artificial Eye Video.

Restored print released in New York City (Film Forum) December 15, 2006.

Franscope

Released in United States 1992 (Shown at AFI/Los Angeles International Film Festival (Tribute to Francois Truffaut) June 18 - July 2, 1992.)

Released in United States 1994 (Shown at MOMA (Jeanne Moreau: Nouvelle Vague and Beyond) in New York City February 18 - March 25, 1994.)

Released in United States Spring April 23, 1962

Released in United States 1999 (Shown in New York City (Film Forum) as part of program "Tout Truffaut" April 23 - June 24, 1999.)

Released in United States October 1999 (Shown at Hamptons International Film Festival (World Cinema) October 20-24, 1999.)

Released in United States November 1989 (Shown at Alliance Francaise in New York City November 1 & 2, 1989.)

Re-released in United States December 15, 2006 (Film Forum; New York City)