Topic: Truffaut's Wild Child @ The Plaza

The Calgary Cinematheque is pleased to present a newly restored 35mm print of François Truffaut’s acclaimed masterpiece “The Wild Child��  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 he’s from or how long he’d been in the wilderness; given that l’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 François Truffaut himself), who begins teaching him socialized behavior. The boy is given a name—Victor—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, doesn’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 Itard’s two reports into diary form, this  is  the  director’s nearest approach to documentary, with Nestor Almendros’ striking b&w photography evoking the earliest days of the cinema and a much-imitated all-Vivaldi score.

As l’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 he’d be directing the boy within the film, Truffaut imposed on himself a “no smiling��  rule — he lapses briefly once — to attain a kind of gravity, but then this only reinforces his ruthlessly unsentimental  treatment  of potentially treacly material, even as the inevitable question (“Was it worth it?�� ) arises. (Alfred Hitchcock wrote Truffaut asking for “the autograph of the actor who plays the doctor - he is so wonderful,��  while Steven Spielberg was so impressed by the director’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.��
– Andrew O'Hehir,

“RAVISHING! A film about the simultaneous birth of consciousness and the extinction of spontaneity. The drama lies in the doctor’s spiritual journey; it  takes us a while to realize that Itard is almost as strange as his subject.��
– David Denby, The New Yorker

“***** [5 stars]
“Intimately 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."
– David Fear, Time Out New York

It’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.