A Letter Written By Hand

Yay — this blogathon is going to have at least THREE posts!

You know, the ironic thing is, the project I’m working on which has so far prevented me writing anything myself, is about a late film. Posthumously released, in fact, and it doesn’t get very much later than that,

So, we have David Ehrenstein’s contribution, which I’ll be formatting for Shadowplay today and posting tomorrow, but today, here’s Erin from Cinematic Scribblings with her thoughts on Francois Truffaut’s death-haunted late film, THE GREEN ROOM — here.

3 Responses to “A Letter Written By Hand”

  1. David Ehrenstein Says:

    A very thoughtful essay on a film I believe to be Truffaut’s greatest work. Did he have intimations of his own passing when he made it? World War I was a cataclysm whose impact is far too often overlooked. Proust wrote his masterpiece in reaction to the loss of an entire generation as a result of the war. He strove to bring them back through writing. Truffaut’s natural warmth may seem an odd fit for the chilly reticence of Henry James — but they meet each other halfway. Truffaut doesn’t so much as give a performance as mold himself into the fabric of his film.

    Speaking as a gay man who managed to remain HIV-Negative while 3/4 of his nearest and dearest friends died of AIDS, funerals were a constant for me in the late 80’s and throughout the 90s. They’re one of the reasons Chereau’s “Those Who Love Me Can Take the Train” is my favorite film of all time. It captures what Chereau called “the positive side of funerals,” and the desperation of a world ruled by HIV just as the “cocktail” came into view. Truffaut is more sober=sided than Chereau. He is the cinematic voice of compassion and it can be felt throughout his oeuvre. Jean-Luc Godard, who just turned 90, is a great filmmaker but a horrible, horrible man. His declaration that Truffaut made “Day for Night” in order to make a play for Jackie Bissett is beneath contempt.
    How we deal with the COVID epidemic on-screen depends on how we deal with it off-screen. That the Orange Turn won’t be POTUS any longer in a month’s time is a great help but the damage he has left in his wake will be a long time cleaning up. Joe Biden has the heart and soul for the job. So does Kamala Harris. And I have great hopes for the administration they’re putting together. They are people of good will — not soulless grifters.

  2. I think Truffaut certainly did aim to have affairs with all or most of his leading ladies, and cast his films with that in mind… but he was generally casting big movie stars, he wasn’t forcing ingenues to sleep with him or anything nasty. I think his lovers entered into these flings in a spirit of friendly collaboration. Chabrol described him as an “insatiable womanizer… INSATIABLE!” The Man Who Loved Women is another self-portrait.

    Godard’s own sleaziness is frequently given full vent in his films. He asked Truffaut why, if Day For Night was autobiography, he didn’t show himself seducing the female lead. The fact that he did this in a begging letter asking for help funding his latest film is kind of adorable though.

  3. David Ehrenstein Says:

    Not adorable in any way. Godard was monstrous to Anna Karina. The climax of Rivette’s “L’Amour Fou” recreates their fight-to-near-death ending their marriage. He was no better to Anne Wiazemski. Last year he dissolved his partnership with Anne-Marie Mieville — who I trust will have much to say about it in the future He still has his dog Roxy however.

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