François Truffaut Collection (Blu-ray Review)

  • Reviewed by: Stuart Galbraith IV
  • Review Date: Mar 09, 2023
  • Format: Blu-ray Disc
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François Truffaut Collection (Blu-ray Review)


François Truffaut

Release Date(s)

1970-1978 (February 14, 2023)


Les Films du Carrosse/United Artists (Kino Lorber Studio Classics)
  • Film/Program Grade: A-
  • Video Grade: A-
  • Audio Grade: B+
  • Extras Grade: C

François Truffaut Collection (Blu-ray)

Buy it Here!


A set of four films on two Blu-ray discs, François Truffaut Collection neatly compliments Artificial Eye’s big UK boxed set of eight films (The François Truffaut Collection) from 2014; there’s no overlap of titles. This set, from Kino Lorber, consists of The Wild Child (1970), Small Change (1976), The Man Who Loved Women (1977), and The Green Room (1978).

The Wild Child (L’Enfant sauvage, 1970) is both an unusual Truffaut film yet one that also follows the filmmaker’s empathy for children and harks back to his first feature, The 400 Blows (1959). In other ways it anticipates some of the themes and stylistic choices found in David Lynch’s The Elephant Man (1980). Both films are in black-and-white, incorporate silent cinema film language, and with historical verisimilitude document a doctor’s attempt to integrate an outcast back into society, only to question the morality of his methods.

Truffaut’s film is based on the true story of a roughly 11-year-old apparently feral child, “Victor of Aveyron,” discovered in 1798 in the forest living like an animal, unable to speak or comprehend language and possibly deaf. His case is taken up by Dr. Jean Marc Gaspard Itard (Truffaut himself), who takes the child home and with Madame Guérin (Françoise Seigner), his housekeeper, resolves to educate the boy and, perhaps, reintegrate him back into society.

Wisely, Truffaut’s approach is emphatically unsentimental. Mostly he shows Itard’s efforts to teach the boy, whom he names “Victor,” to form words, to remember letters, to become accustomed to wearing shoes, etc., and the mostly very small breakthroughs and frequent, sometimes frustrating set-backs. Itard is determined to help Victor but he’s also a taskmaster, grilling him sun-up to sundown, tiring Victor mentally and physically, as if to make up for all those lost years. Truffaut said the experience of acting out such scenes was unique for a filmmaker, as he felt as if he were, for the first time, directing in front of the camera rather than behind it.

Jean-Pierre Cargol, a local Romani and non-professional actor, gives a remarkable performance as Victor, mainly because his reactions are so utterly unpredictable. In other films working from a similar premise (for example, a prehistoric man discovered in the ice is unthawed and brought back to life in modern times, the basis for several films), their reactions are amusing because they’re almost always logical. But Victor often doesn’t respond to stimuli in expected ways; he doesn’t even walk predictably, affecting an unusual gait that seems part-human, part-chimpanzee yet like neither.

In recent years, the phenomenon of “feral children,” particularly in Europe during the 18th and 19th centuries, has largely been disproven, that other explanations are more likely. In Victor’s case, modern scientists since Truffaut’s film now believe he was probably autistic, which would account for much of his behavior in the film, and that he was likely abandoned by his family in the woods after they slit his throat in an unsuccessful attempt to be rid of him.

Filmed in black-and-white (presented here in 1.66:1 widescreen, though some sources suggest it was meant to be seen in standard 1.37:1 format) by Néstor Almendros, his first of eight films for Truffaut, it resembles a silent film, the director even incorporating irises to transition between scenes, though Truffaut frequently did that in other films. There’s considerable distance between the end of the 18th century and the first decades of the 20th, but the decision to shoot The Wild Child this way adds to its authenticity somehow, while the irising reflects Victor’s mental journey and limited comprehension.

For his part, Itard’s limited success with Victor, that Victor might have been comparatively better off left in the wild, points to Truffaut’s theme, that “man is nothing without other men.”

Small Change (L’Argent de poche, 1976), also known as Pocket Money, is another winner, a collage about schoolchildren in Thiers, a provincial town in central France. An ensemble piece with no big stars, the film presents little vignettes dramatizing the mostly humorous and sometimes tragic lives of children, their desires, dreams, and struggles. Although the focus is on the kids, interestingly Truffaut doesn’t really attempt to tell these stories from a child’s vantage point exclusively; though child-centric, some of the best vignettes are teachers and parents expressing frustration trying to understand and relate to the children in their care.

Virtually every child appearing in the film gets screen credit, but the film emphasizes two in particular: Patrick (Georgy Desmouceaux), a motherless adolescent raised by his paralyzed, wheelchair-bound father (René Barnerias), with Patrick becoming attracted, both sexually and as a mother figure, to Nadine Riffle (Tania Torrens), the beautiful hairdresser mother of one of his school chums, Laurent (Laurent Devlaeminck). The other is classmate Julien (Philippe Goldmann), who lives in poverty, is frequently kicked out of his shack of a home, and abused by his single mother and grandmother.

Other vignettes, some scripted by Truffaut and co-writer Suzanne Schiffman (she was the basis for Nathalie Baye’s character in Day for Night), others seemingly improvised during production, particularly those scenes involving toddlers. There’s a harrowing sequence involving a toddler who, playing with a cat at an open windowsill in a high-rise apartment building while his mother, distracted, looks for a missing wallet. For parents familiar with this all-too-common occurrence it’s especially unbearable to watch.

On a lighter note, one of the film’s best sequences involves a young girl pressured by her image-conscious parents not to bring a stained children’s purse to a restaurant. She stubbornly refuses all attempts to surrender it, so the parents punish her by leaving for the restaurant without her, whereupon she deliberately locks herself in their apartment, grabs a bullhorn her father uses at work, and begins loudly broadcasting “I’m hungry!” to all within earshot, causing a commotion within her apartment building’s courtyard. Concerned neighbors, condemning the parents’ actions, rig a pully system and deliver her a huge basket of food, complete with a roasted whole chicken.

The film does a splendid job capturing the essence of childhood in big and little ways: a toddler making a huge mess on the floor with newly-bought groceries; a small child trying to tell a dirty joke he’s overheard but can’t quite remember the details correctly; Patrick stalling for time, hoping to run out the clock when his teacher calls on him; a visit to the moving theater and sneaking a friend in with no money. (But were the French still making newsreels in 1976? The film suggests that they were.) Truffaut apparently used a mix of professional and non-professional actors, yet all of them come off as positively genuine.

The Man Who Loved Women (L’Homme qui aimait les femmes, 1977) is about an inveterate womanizer who compulsively pursues women to the point of stalking them. This might at first suggest something decidedly politically incorrect in these supposedly more enlightened times, but Truffaut’s film is far more complex than a simple comedy objectifying women. Indeed, it would make one-half of an intriguing double-bill paired with Pedro Almodóvar’s brilliant All About My Mother. That 1999 comedy-drama celebrated women of all kinds (though specifically mothers and mothering types), told from the perspective of a gay filmmaker; The Man Who Loved Women is rather similar, if told from the perspective of a straight filmmaker.

Bertrand Morane (Charles Denner) is a middle-aged man obsessed with women and who’ll go to extreme lengths to date them. After briefly glimpsing an attractive woman driving off in a car, he writes down her car’s license plate number, eventually crashing his own car into a pylon so that he can claim she hit him with hers and thus meet through his insurance claim. After seeing another woman post a classified ad for babysitting, he hires her hoping she won’t notice that his “sleeping child” in the bedroom is actually a doll.

He’s inspired to write a book about his compulsiveness, The Skirt Chaser, which allows flashbacks to other funny-sad encounters. He has an affair with Delphine (Nelly Borgeaud), the wife of a doctor, but she’s nuttier than he is, combative and insulting most of the time, but highly sexually aroused in situations where their lovemaking might be discovered, most amusingly inside a model car for sale in the courtyard of a shopping mall. His manuscript attracts interest from Geneviève (Brigitte Fossey), editor at a publishing house. She, too, becomes one of Morane’s lovers.

Though in the film Morane obsesses over women’s legs, the sound of their nylons swishing when they cross their legs, the movements of their behinds in tight dresses, etc., the picture is the antithesis of sex comedies like Confessions of a Window Cleaner and similar lowbrow romps of that period. Morane is no Don Juan, or even sex-obsessed, but rather a sad little man whose never-ending pursuit of the female ideal is distorted following his experiences growing up with a hard-nosed but inattentive single mother similarly obsessed with sexual conquests, who only tolerated her boy when he sat shock-still in a chair reading books, Morane’s only other interest. Late in the film it’s revealed that Véra (former MGM star Leslie Caron), whom he bumps into after many years apart, appears to be the only woman he was ever able to truly love.

Ultimately, The Man Who Loved Women is as much a celebration of the women as it is a deep portrait of a rather pathetic, lonely man. Morane’s compulsions, really a kind of mental illness, doom any lasting relationship from the start, but the women hardly come off as victims. Their search for casual sex or life-long love is impressively varied and, in Truffaut’s hands, some of the film’s best moments are his montages of women of all kinds: an elderly woman still very much in love with her husband, a young girl Morane finds crying in a stairwell, another woman cuddling a dog, the “man” in that woman’s life.

I barely remember seeing the 1983 Hollywood remake of the same name, directed by Blake Edwards and starring Burt Reynolds. Truffaut’s film is so emphatically French in its views of adult relationships and sexuality I can’t see how it could be adapted along similar lines, and Reynolds would seem miscast in a part better suited to a Dustin Hoffman type.

In the end, I found but a single aspect of the film that hasn’t aged well: One of the vignettes involves Morane’s affair with Hélène (Geneviève Fontanel), the forty-one-year-old owner of a lingerie shop not interested in men over 30. Morane, in the film, is supposed to be in his mid-30s, but actor Denner was actually 50 at the time. Fontanel, playing a woman 5-7 years older, was actually ten years younger.

The Green Room (Le Chambre verte, 1978) is perhaps the most divisive of Truffaut films; audiences and critics alike either hate it or find it emotionally powerful and even cathartic. My reaction fell somewhere in the middle: I felt enormously empathy for its main character’s views but also found his solitary single-mindedness antisocial and self-destructive.

Infused with the flavor of Henry James, the story is set ten years after World War I where Julien Davenne (Truffaut, in the last of his three leading parts in his own films) is a veteran that survived completely unscathed, at least physically. Davenne, the audience learns, married soon after the war’s end, but his new bride, Julie, died within months of their marriage.

Davenne now works as an editor at The Globe, a news magazine whose subscribers die off regularly, reducing subscription rates steadily. He specialty is writing heartfelt obituaries that avoid clichés; no two are alike. Davenne lives with his elderly housekeeper, Mme. Rambaud (Jeanne Lobre) and, in a relationship never really explained, Georges (Patrick Maléon), a deaf-mute boy. On the top floor of his home is the Green Room of the title, which he keeps as a private shrine to his late wife.

When the room is damaged in a fire, and Davenne stumbles upon a war-damaged, abandoned chapel in a cemetery, he convinces the Catholic Church to let him renovate it to consecrate it not only as a living shrine to Julie, but every deceased person in his life. At the same time, he becomes friendly with Cécilia (Nathalie Baye), a secretary at an auction house, and on their not-quite-dates he expresses his obsession with keeping all the dead in his life alive through his daily, vigilant, remembrances.

Truffaut’s intentions for The Green Room are a somewhat opaque. He seems to empathize with Davenne’s views but not his methods. In his middle-age, Truffaut, as we all do, began to notice that an increasing number of friends and colleagues were dying off, causing him to question the differing relationships we have between those still with us and those no longer alive. Why do relationships end with physical death? Why this tendency to “move on” with our lives and, for the most part, set aside deceased loved ones?

At the same time, it’s clear Davenne, in devoting all his energies into remembering the dead, in one sense is himself no longer living. He becomes enraged when friend Gérard (Jean-Pierre Moulin), devastated by the death of his wife, has the effrontery to remarry, which Davenne regards as unpardonable disloyalty to Gérard’s first wife, whom in Davenne’s view must be kept alive through aggressive daily reflection, as he does with Julie.

Davenne is a movie protagonist that alienates the film audience, even when, much of the time, they agree with him. That Truffaut deliberately plays him as such a cold fish—sanctimonious, methodical, but outwardly unemotional and distant, no doubt contributed to the strong negative reaction by some viewers.

Nevertheless, The Green Room is gripping drama with many memorable scenes, though the best comes right at the start: at the funeral for Gérard’s first wife, he is beyond inconsolable, and when a priest attempts to comfort him with talk of “God’s plan,” Davenne becomes outraged, assaulting the priest for his lack of understanding.

The four films in this set were all originally released in the U.S. by United Artists, which helped finance some or all of them. All four are presented in their original 1.66:1 widescreen format, all with DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mono sound (in French). The video transfer of Small Change seems newer than the others, and sources a master done in France. The others have MGM logos and are good transfers if from imperfect film sources, which all display minor imperfections such as dirt or scratches, but nothing terribly distracting.

The music track on The Green Room seemed rather distorted, like a record album with well-worn grooves filtered through a dull stylus, particularly during the opening credits, though this may be inherent in the original audio mix. I also noticed a glitch regarding the subtitles on The Wild Child and Small Change that I never could figure out entirely. On Small Change, for instance, the English subtitling didn’t default to “ON” nor could I activate them by pressing the subtitle button on my remote once the film began. In the end I had to return to the main menu, press English subtitles “ON” and everything played fine. For reasons unclear, there are two English subtitle files on each title, with little or no content, so perhaps the authoring on some players defaults to subtitles that aren’t really there. Eventually I was able to get everything to work, but it might take other viewers a little time to figure this out.

Trailers for all four films are included, the only extra feature. The one for Small Change features English narration by Truffaut and a tiny bit of behind-the-scenes footage.

This is a fine quartet of Truffaut titles that does not disappoint. Highly Recommended.

- Stuart Galbraith IV



1970, 1976, 1977, 1978, Agnès Guillemot, Alphonse Simon, Anna Paniez, Annie Chevaldonne, Annie Miller, Antoine Vitez, Antonio Vivaldi, black and white, black-and-white, Blu-ray, Blu-ray Disc, Brigitte Fossey, Bruno Staab, Chantal Mercier, Charles Denner, Christian Lentretien, Claude Miller, Claudio Deluca, comedy, Dr Jean Marc Gaspard Itard, drama, France, Francis Devlaeminck, Franck Deluca, François Truffaut, François Truffaut Collection, Françoise Seigner, French, Geneviève Fontanel, Geory Desmouceaux, Guy D’Ablon, Henri Bienvenu, Henry James, historical, Jean Dasté, Jean Gruault, Jean Mandaroux, Jean-Claude Gasché, Jean-François Stévenin, Jean-Marie Carayon, Jean-Pierre Cargol, Jean-Pierre Ducos, Jean-Pierre Moulin, Jeanne Lobre, Katy Carayon, Kino Lorber, Kino Lorber Studio Classics, La Chambre verte, Laurence Ragon, Laurent Devlaeminck, Les Films du Carrosse, Les Productions Artistes Associés, Leslie Caron, L’Argent de poche, L’Enfant sauvage, L’Homme qui aimait les femmes, Marcel Berbert, Marie Jaoul, Martine Barraqué-Curie, Mathieu Schiffman, Maurice Jaubert, Michel Dissart, Michel Fermaud, Michele Heyraud, Monique Dury, Nathalie Baye, Nathan Miller, Nelly Borgeaud, Néstor Almendros, Nicole Félix, Pascale Bruchon, Patrick Maléon, Paul Heyraud, Paul Villé, Philippe Goldmann, Pierre Fabre, Pierre-William Glenn, René Barnerias, René Levert, review, Richard Golfier, Roger Leenhardt, Sebastien Marc, Serge Rousseau, Small Change, Stuart Galbraith IV, Suzanne Schiffman, Sylvie Grezel, Tania Torrens, The Altar of the Dead, The Beast in the Jungle, The Digital Bits, The Green Room, The Man Who Loved Women, The Memorandum and Report on Victor de l’Aveyron, The Way It Came, The Wild Boy, The Wild Child, Thi-Loan Nguyen, United Artists, Valérie Bonnier, Virginie Thévenet, Yann Dedet