François Truffaut

François Truffaut has stated again and again that the cinema saved his life. When Truffaut was a child he would spend a lot of his time ditching school and sneaking into the movies, mostly because the cinema offered him the greatest escape from an unsatisfying home life. He was eight years old when he saw his first movie and it was there that his film obsession began. After running away from home at the age of 11 and being expelled from various schools, Truffaut decided at the age of fourteen to finally become self-taught. Some of Truffaut’s academic goals were to watch three movies a day and read three books a week while ultimately becoming exposed to countless foreign films from around the world. It was at this point that he became familiar with American cinema and directors such as John Ford, Howard Hawks and Nicholas Ray, as well as those of British director Alfred Hitchcock. After starting his own film club in 1948, Truffaut met André Bazin, who took the troubled boy under his wing. Bazin became a personal friend of Truffaut’s and helped him out of various financial and criminal situations during his formative years. At age 18 Truffaut was arrested for attempting to desert the French army, but Bazin used his various political contacts to get Truffaut released and set him up with a job at his newly formed film magazine Cahiers du cinéma. Over the next few years, Truffaut became a critic and editor at Cahiers, where he supported André Bazin in the development of one of the most influential theories of cinema itself, the auteur theory. Truffaut later devised the auteur theory, stating that the director was the ‘author’ of his work and that great directors such as Renoir, Ford and Hitchcock had distinct styles and themes that permeated all of their films. In 1967 Truffaut also published a extraordinary book-length one-on-one interview of Alfred Hitchcock, which is looked at today as one of the most important and crucial books written on the cinema. Years after having worked as a critic Truffaut decided to want to make films of his own after seeing Orson Welles noir classic Touch of Evil at the Expo 58. Truffaut made his feature film début in 1959 with his autobiographical masterpiece The 400 Blows, which was also dedicated to his mentor André Bazin. Not only did the international praise of the 400 Blows ultimately define Truffaut as a major filmmaker for the rest of his career, but the films radical techniques and personal free-wheeling aesthetics helped begin the launch of the French New Wave movement of the 60’s. Since his film debut Truffaut continued to create such classics as Shoot the Piano Player (1960), Jules and Jim (1961), Stolen Kisses (1968), The Wild Child (1970), and Day for Night (1973). Film critic Roger Ebert once stated, “If the New Wave marks the dividing point between classic and modern cinema then Truffaut is likely the most beloved of modern directors, the one whose films resonated with the deepest, richest love of movie-making.”


François Truffaut
François Truffaut Featured Films
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Articles and Essays on François Truffaut

Shoot the Piano Player (1960)

Francois Truffaut’s Shoot the Piano Player is one of Truffaut’s most entertaining and affectionate tributes to the low-budget pulp crime genre, and of the comic films of Chaplin Chaplin and The Marx Brothers that he grew up adoring. It tells the simple story about a classical pianist, who tries to run away from his past after his wife’s tragic suicide, and […]


Day for Night (1973)

“This film is dedicated to Lillian and Dorothy Gish.” Day For Night is Francois Truffaut’s touching and sweet love letter to the creation of movie making and is one of the most magical experiences of watching a movie about a movie being made. The film chronicles the ups and downs on a film production titled Meet Pamela, which takes […]


Jeanne Moreau Singing



Jules and Jim (1962)

“You said, ‘I love you’, I said ‘Wait’. I was about to say, ‘Take me.’ You said ‘Go.” Francois Truffaut’s Jules and Jim is one of the most tragic and poetic love triangles ever made about two men: one French the other Austrian, who fall for the same woman who is clearly, morally unstable. The character of Catherine is […]


400 Blows, The (1959)

“Dedicated to the memory of Andre Bazin.” French director François Truffaut’s masterpiece The 400 Blows is the most touching and greatest of all films about childhood adolescence. Inspired by Truffaut’s own early life, it is one of the great coming of age stories that portrays a boy growing up in Paris and apparently dashing headlong into a […]