Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Truffaut Letters - III


Truffaut wrote to the Minister of Information in France in 1963 to 'influence' the results of his consideration of a seemingly scandalous Chris Marker film, Le Joli Mai.

Truffaut the Statesman

Paris, 25 April 1963
Monsieur le Ministre,

Perhaps this letter will surprise you. We would certainly have greatly preferred to ask you to grant us an audience, but, for the present, we have chosen to write to you to let you know of our distress and our hope.

We have been informed that, in a few hours, you are to decide the fate of a film which we hold very dear and by which we were all extremely moved. Le Joli Mai impressed us as a crucial film for a period in which, as you remarked last year, 'the means of exerting pressure on the individual conscience have become so numerous'. With a degree of personal sympathy which we find profoundly touching, our friend Chris Marker has allowed dozens of alienated, bewildered, anxious, impassioned and sometimes baffled men and women to speak their minds. It was also you who said: "It is the plurality of points of view, the confrontation of different opinions, that will safeguard the fundamental liberties of our citizens.'

Your remarks, it is true, applied to the press. But we believe in a cinema of personal expression. And Chris Marker is, in our of opinion, one of its most brilliant exponents. Liberty, in the cinema, encounters certain great and formidable obstacles. Beyond the economic pressures exerted by commercial interests, it seems essential to us that a whole range of intellectual currents would find expression on the screen.

We do not regard the cinema as an underdeveloped sector of culture. What applies to the press should, we believe, apply equally to the cinema. Several years ago there emerged a new kind of film-going public. Their responses are those of individuals. They judge. They have become adult Now, when you are about to decide the future of a difficult and ambitious film, a film destined for this new breed of spectator, we wished to tell you how important we feel that decision will be since on it depends to a certain extent the future of French cinema.

We are convinced, Monsieur Le Ministre, that you will forgive the liberty we have taken of acquainting you, with confidence, of our anxiety : the fate of Le Joli Mai rests in your hands.

Yours sincerely,
Fran├žois Truffaut



As an aftermath of the letter to the Minister, Le Joli Mai was released uncut.

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