A film for those who love movies, it was the tagline with which this satirical, (auto) ironic humorous drama by Francois Truffaut arrived in cinemas in the Anglo-American market. Perhaps my favorite French rookie is also unfortunately on the distinguished team that never won an Oscar, and of his three nominations, “La nuit americaine” or “Day for Night” in English, brought him two, for best director and original screenplay. . If there was ever a filmmaker who was known to be a film erudite and film lover, it was Truffaut who died prematurely, at the age of 52, from a brain tumor. In addition to being an outstanding filmmaker, he was a Truffaut and a critic, film theorist, writer, true film icon and a man who has completely revolutionized film since it first appeared on the scene in the late 1950s.
“400 Blows” directed and written and “Breathless” directed by Jean-Luc Godard and co-written with Claude Chabrol and just Truffaut are two key films not only for the French new wave, but for the film in general. These are groundbreaking moments after which nothing was the same, and 14 years after introducing himself as a film revolutionary, Truffaut filmed this farcical comedy – a drama in which he makes great jokes at his own expense. The original name of the film is actually the name for a film process in which scenes are shot outdoors during the day with a filter over the camera lens to make it look like night. In English, the technique is called “Day for Night”, which is the English name of the film that won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film in 1974.
This film is also a great homage to American film, and Truffaut intentionally shows and invites viewers here to see what the artificiality of typical, especially American studio films actually looks like. From the first scenes it is clear to us that everything here is fake, a typical movie delusion or magic as you please, and the film is about the people who make the film. Truffaut himself plays a director who shoots a completely clichéd melodrama in the American style “Meet Pamela”. The story is here, quite banal, and it features the aging icon of Alexandre (Jean-Pierre Aumont), a former film diva today in serious alcohol problems Severine (Valentina Cortese), young and ambitious, but also insecure and in love Alphonse (Jean- Pierre Leaud, whom Truffaut introduced as a boy in “400 Blows”). Jacqueline Bisset is the famous British actress Julie Baker who arrived on the set while recovering from a mental breakdown and immediately after marrying her much older psychiatrist.
Through a series of vignettes, we follow all the problems that the director encounters while making a film. Problems are only accumulating, actors are whining, countless members of film crews have their own problems. So the wife of one of the technicians is constantly hanging on the set because she is convinced that it is a team of debauchers, so she does not want to let her husband out of sight. And the woman is not too wrong because everything will happen here, the director will have to constantly adapt under the pressure of the producer, agree to changes that are usually not to his liking, and his initially clear vision will eventually turn into something completely different and will almost give up on everything. Indeed, Truffaut in “La nuit americaine” showed all the greatness of his directing talent, but also a sense of humor. So in the beginning, his character, who is also the narrator, says something in the style that shooting a movie is like riding in a carriage. In the beginning, you hope for a nice ride, and in the end, all you need to do is get to your final destination. Or translated – make a movie.
Of course, Truffaut was lucky in his career that he was often able to present his visions to the end, but how many were there (just like his character in flashbacks) who hoped to be the new Orson Welles, but got stuck with punching typical industrial films whose final version is not much influenced. Interestingly, this film once quarreled with Truffaut and Godard’s best friends and collaborators. Godard thus left the screening of the premiere with disgust and accused his colleague from the day before yesterday of making a film that is a pure lie. Truffaut did not remain indebted to him and after that two great friends and former associates, never met again. Rating 9/10.
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