Topic: Truffaut's Wild Child @ The Plaza
The Calgary Cinematheque is pleased to present a newly restored 35mm print of FranÃ§ois Truffautâ€™s acclaimed masterpiece â€œThe Wild Childï¿½ï¿½ at the Plaza Theatre on Thursday, April 23rd at 7pm. Tickets are $12 for the general public and $10 for Calgary Cinematheque members. Doors will open at 6:30pm.
In 1798, farmers in the south of France find a naked young boy, presumably grown up in the wild without human contact. No one knows where heâ€™s from or how long heâ€™d been in the wilderness; given that lâ€™enfant sauvage is unable to communicate, he isn't exactly forthcoming. After being consigned to an institution, this feral youth is taken under the wing of Dr. Jean Itard (played by FranÃ§ois Truffaut himself), who begins teaching him socialized behavior. The boy is given a nameâ€”Victorâ€”as well as recalibrated senses, the building blocks of language and notions of a moral order. But, taking the child out of the wild, of course, doesnâ€™t mean the wild has been excised from the child.
Based on an actual case, with its voiceover narration (delivered by Truffaut) an adaptation of the real Itardâ€™s two reports into diary form, this is the directorâ€™s nearest approach to documentary, with Nestor Almendrosâ€™ striking b&w photography evoking the earliest days of the cinema and a much-imitated all-Vivaldi score.
As lâ€™enfant sauvage, Jean-Pierre Cargol, a French Roma boy picked from over 2,500 hopefuls, is alternately ferocious and docile (although, happy and well-adjusted in real life, he had trouble doing the tantrums). As Itard, cast partly because he realized heâ€™d be directing the boy within the film, Truffaut imposed on himself a â€œno smilingï¿½ï¿½ rule â€” he lapses briefly once â€” to attain a kind of gravity, but then this only reinforces his ruthlessly unsentimental treatment of potentially treacly material, even as the inevitable question (â€œWas it worth it?ï¿½ï¿½ ) arises. (Alfred Hitchcock wrote Truffaut asking for â€œthe autograph of the actor who plays the doctor - he is so wonderful,ï¿½ï¿½ while Steven Spielberg was so impressed by the directorâ€™s compassionate performance that he cast Truffaut in Close Encounters of the Third Kind.).
A BEAUTIFUL, HEARTBREAKING PICTURE, ONE OF TRUFFAUT'S BEST... lovely, deceptively simple and profoundly moving, arguably Truffaut's most thoughtful exploration of the collision between childhood and civilization.ï¿½ï¿½
â€“ Andrew O'Hehir, Salon.com
â€œRAVISHING! A film about the simultaneous birth of consciousness and the extinction of spontaneity. The drama lies in the doctorâ€™s spiritual journey; it takes us a while to realize that Itard is almost as strange as his subject.ï¿½ï¿½
â€“ David Denby, The New Yorker
â€œ***** [5 stars]
"FILM OF THE WEEK!"
â€œIntimately gorgeous. Almost nothing in Truffaut's filmography resonates with as much sympathy... Truffaut never upstages the astounding Jean-Pierre Cargol; both performers underplay in perfect harmony."
â€“ David Fear, Time Out New York
Itâ€™s been 25 years since Truffaut died from cancer at 52 years of age. Join us as we mark this anniversary with a special, one-time only screening of this newly restored classic film.