Francois Truffaut lived a life of peaks and valleys, of epochal successes and resounding failures. He is one of the principal architects of France’s nouvelle vague movement, and is generally regarded as one of the 20th century’s foremost cinematic humanists. But how much do we really know Francois Truffaut: the mad, empathetic genius behind such landmark pictures as “The 400 Blows” and “Jules & Jim”? Here to help us answer the question is “Le Lecon de Cinema,” a recently dug-up doc, via Eyes On, from 1981 that takes a good, hard look at the man who once asked “is cinema more important than life?”
The video examines Truffaut’s life and career in astonishing totality, highlighting selected clips from many of his best and most-loved films, including under-appreciated gems like his crackerjack movie-within-a-movie, “Day for Night,” and his tender and insightful portrait of married ennui, “Bed and Board.” The layer of Truffaut’s generally affable public persona is also peeled back a bit, revealing the complicated, often moody artist who existed beneath the veneer. Many seasoned Truffaut buffs may very well be familiar with a lot of this stuff — particularly the bits about the director’s famously tumultuous childhood, which served as an inspiration of sorts for “The 400 Blows” — but it’s still an engaging and genuinely probing look at one of the most significant cinematic storytellers in the history of the medium.
Watch the entire doc below.