Saturday, January 8, 2011

Truffaut Letters - I


With Truffaut's films, you can often get an impression that like a lot of other great producers of art, he was being prolific not because he found it difficult to suppress a pressing urge to say something relevant, but because he needed to create successful alibis for what he really had to say. Like bodies of work that reek of continuous introspection, and thus, admission; there are others that are full of denial. 400 Blows might be his personal history recalled, but you are never told what Doinel will do after running for a mile to the beach. The final freeze frame is Truffaut's personal electrical fence - that is the point to which you get a free ride, but beyond that lie grounds of enigma, made impenetrable by work that tells you a lot about how films are made, but befuddles you about who makes them.

Truffaut wrote a lot of letters and catalogued them really well. A lot of aspiring screenwriters wrote to him for advise. And he wrote back to them. Two of his replies. The first two in a series of letters written by Truffaut over the years, hopefully.

Paris, 14 December 1960

Dear Monsieur

I have read Les Cloches de Bale (by Louis Aragon), and the story that you have adopted from one of the episodes of the novel might well constitute a film, and even a very good film, but only on condition:

1. that Monsieur Aragon agrees;

2. that a producer acquires the rights of a novel;

3. that the said producer offers the film to me;

4. that I agree to make it;

5. that I choose you to write the adaptation.

As you see, it makes better sense for me to return your manuscript and advise you now to try writing an original screenplay,
With thanks, dear Monsieur, I remain,                                                

Cordially Yours
François Truffaut

                                                                                                                                     cordially yours,






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