Director Series: François Truffaut’s Les Mistons (1957)

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“It was really and truly while filming Les Mistons that I came to realize that there were things I liked and things I didn’t and that the choice of story for a film is more important than one thinks and that you cannot simply jump into things.” — François Truffaut

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Perpetually Unstable Equilibrium: Out 1 (1971)

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“I don’t want the viewer to ever be comfortably seated in front of the film with a story that engages them from the start in a very traditional way and which then sticks to a very exact path — apparently exact, anyway — for an hour and a half, two hours, three hours,” Jacques Rivette said in a 1972 interview. “I’d rather, on the contrary, create a sort of perpetually unstable equilibrium which is constantly being adjusted, first in one direction and then another, so that, rather than being comfortably seated in an armchair, the viewer is sitting on top of a pile of chairs balanced on top of one another, and they’re wondering whether the chairs will collapse.”

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Essence of Truffaut: Les Mistons (1957)

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Jean Renoir has been quoted as saying, “A director makes only one movie in his life. Then he breaks it into pieces and makes it again.” When François Truffaut, one of Renoir’s most fervent admirers, made his first film in 1954, he was so displeased by the result — the eight-minute short Une Visite — that he considered destroying it; he didn’t even screen it for his friends until 1982. Three years would pass before he tried directing again, during which time he continued writing film criticism and also worked as Roberto Rossellini’s assistant. This experience paid off. His second short, Les Mistons, would be far more successful and was, in many respects, the movie that he would break into pieces and make again throughout his career.

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