Jules and Jim (1962)
November 22, 2019 1:51 PM - Subscribe

Jules and Jim is a 1962 French New Wave romantic drama film, directed, produced and written by François Truffaut. Set around the time of World War I, it describes a tragic love triangle involving French Bohemian Jim (Henri Serre), his shy Austrian friend Jules (Oskar Werner), and Jules's girlfriend and later wife Catherine (Jeanne Moreau). (Wikipedia)

Roger Ebert: "The movie was released in 1962, at the time of the creative explosion of Godard, Chabrol, Rohmer, Resnais, Malle and the other New Wave directors, and it was Truffaut's third feature (after "The 400 Blows" in 1959 and "Shoot the Piano Player" in 1960). Although a case can be made for Godard's "Breathless" (1960) (based on a story by Truffaut), "Jules and Jim" was perhaps the most influential and arguably the best of those first astonishing films that broke with the past. There is joy in the filmmaking that feels fresh today and felt audacious at the time. In the energy pulsing from the screen you can see the style and sensibility that inspired "Bonnie and Clyde" (1967), a film Truffaut was once going to direct, and which jolted American films out of their torpor. And you can see the '60s being born; Jules and Jim and their great love Catherine were flower children -- for a time. The 1960s ended sadly, as did "Bonnie and Clyde," as did "Jules and Jim," as did "Thelma and Louise," a film they influenced; the movement from comedy to tragedy was all the more powerful for audiences who expected one or the other."

John Powers (Criterion): "Jean-Paul Sartre once wrote that the greatest art is about the passing of time. Jules and Jim flies by like a dream, suffused with a sense of life’s evanes­cence. As the characters grow older, and perhaps wiser, we become aware of how much has been lost—loss of love, loss of innocence, loss of the marvelously lamplit bohemian past to the searchlight horror of Nazism. An intimate melan­choly pervades the movie’s voice-over narration, which adores the characters’ brave inquiry into love’s possibilities but is also wryly aware of the relief that accompanies the end of such inquiries. As critic Andrew Sarris once wrote, Jules and Jim celebrates “the sweet pain of the impossible and the magnificent failure of an ideal.”"

Germaine Greer (The Guardian): "Cinematography has followed in the path carved out by Truffaut. The sequence in which Moreau comes freewheeling towards us on a bike, faithfully followed by her lovers, was shot by a lightweight camera mounted on a bicycle that Moreau and the men had been directed to follow, so we feel airborne along with the action. In the race across the bridge, when Catherine is disguised as a boy, the handheld camera keeps pace with her, and we feel as if we are running alongside. By such ruses Truffaut involves us in the childlike delight of the characters. It is this freedom that captivated the film's original audiences, a freedom that has now become part of the repertoire of every cinematographer."

On Location: The bridge from Jules et Jim (Little White Lies).

A Conversation with François Truffaut: A Window into the Mind and Practices of the Pillar of the French New Wave (Cinephilia and Beyond).

posted by sapagan (1 comment total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I saw this being fanfared and remembered watching this movie perhaps 30 years ago and finding it creepy and sexist. When I mentally added "and I hate that song 'Raindrops keep falling on my head!'" it became clear that I should re-watch it and not mix it up with all the movies that had been influenced by it. So I just finished: it is still creepy and sexist, but also amazingly fresh and delightfully directed. I am not a huge Truffaut fan, but my father loved the Antoine Doinel movies (and in fact practically lived "Stolen kisses"). So I'll admit that I got a lot more out of the Criterion Edition commentary by the screenwriter, editor and cinematographer than I did out of the movie. What's interesting is how the movie was made, and how it got that joie de vivre. Roger Ebert thought it was the best of the early New Wave movies, and while I can't agree (that would be "Breathless") it shares the same reckless daring as the best of Godard, Varda, Demy and Rohmer. I never realized until someone said it that "Goodfellas" owes a great deal to this movie. And "Bonnie and Clyde" and yes, "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid".

The acting by Werner and Moreau was excellent and the rest of the acting was a little dodgy. It's worth watching for their performances. But try as they might, they can't really convince me that their character's actions aren't warmed-over George Bernard Shaw theories about Man the Intellectic and Woman the Vital Force.

Anyway, thanks for making me re-watch it, sapagan.
posted by acrasis at 1:22 PM on December 8, 2019 [1 favorite]

« Older For All Mankind: Home Again...   |  Movie: A Beautiful Day in the ... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments