Film director, producer, screenplay writer, film critic and actor Francois Roland Truffaut has made over 25 films in his career spanning the last 3 decades. Pioneering the Nouvelle Vague (New Wave) movement in French films, Truffaut’s character Antoine Doinel from his autobiographical film, The 400 Blows (Le Quatre Cents Coups), was well received by the audience, both home and abroad. Today marks his 88th birth anniversary.
Born on February 6, 1932 to Janine de Montferrand, who later married Ronald Truffaut, Francois developed his interest in books and music from his maternal grandmother. However, the artiste’s life changed when he lost his grandmother and his newly born sibling at the age of eight.
As he stepped into his teenage, he became detached from school and started spending most of his time with friends. He grew an attachment with Robert Lacheney who later inspired him to develop the character Rene Bogey in The 400 Blows. Self-taught Francois modelled his lifestyle around ‘seeing three movie every day and reading three books every week’, with Abel Gance’s Paradis Perdue (Paradise Lost) being his first watch.
In 1949, Francois Truffaut formed his own film society and came into contact with Andre Bazin, a leading film critic who had his own film club. Following into Andre Bazin’s footsteps, he soon started critiquing films. In his essay “Une Certaine Tendance du Cinema Francais”, Truffaut called the French film makers as ‘Gravediggers’. This led the Cannes Film Festival organisers to ban him from the festival in 1958. The following year, Truffaut’s The 400 Blows won Cannes Film Festival Best Movie award, casting Jean-Pierre Leaud as Antoine Doinel when he was fourteen.
Taking inspiration from the auteur film theory, a new dimension emerged from his productions, including Shoot the Piano Player (1960), Jules and Jim (1961), The Soft Skin (1964), Fahrenheit 451 (1966), The Wild Child (1970), Two English Girls (1971), The Last Metro (1980), and The Woman Next Door (1981). In 1973, Truffaut’s Day for Night received a number of accolades, including Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
Truffaut was diagnosed with brain tumour in 1983. The artiste passed away on October 21, 1984, due to a stroke, at the age of 52.