25 Chapters
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6. The Shaping of Fictive Scenarios by the Author: Motivations, Strategies, and Outcomes

Alistair Fox Indiana University Press ePub

The ways in which narratives are shaped has received much attention under the twin influences of structuralism and psychoanalysis. Narratologists have examined the semiotic formalization of actions that constitute a story (the effects of sequence: narrative tension, suspense, curiosity, and surprise), and the devices used to direct the reader/spectator’s attention during the telling (narrative perspective, focalization, voice, rhythm, and frequency) in literary fiction.1 Film theorists have done the same for cinematic representation, identifying the distinguishing features of film narrative (mise-en scène, framing, types and duration of shots, editing, and film sound).2 As well, psychoanalytic critics have examined literary and cinematic narrative through the lens of Freudian psychology, emphasizing the relationship between shaping motivations and temporal dynamics (the play of desire in time),3 or they have applied the theory of the unconscious posited by Jacques Lacan, positing an inferred similarity between the structures of a film and the structure of language.4

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11 The Role of Play: Confidentially Yours (1983)

Gillain, Anne Indiana University Press ePub

A MISTY MARSH IN THE EARLY MORNING, A HUNTER RETURNING from his hide; a rifle shot, the hunter collapses, his face covered in blood. This is how Confidentially Yours begins. Massoulier is dead. Those who are familiar with Truffaut’s films know him without ever having seen him: his name appears recurrently from the time of The Bride Wore Black – Massoulier is Corey’s friend, from whose dialogue we learn that Massoulier “did” the hostess on the Montreal-Paris flight. In Two English Girls, the female photographer tells Claude Roc that she could meet him as a soirée at Massoulier’s place – where he waits in vain for her; in The Last Metro, Nadine makes the same remark to Bernard Granger. We also encounter, once again, the detective agency from Stolen Kisses, and the perverse fetishist from The Man Who Loved Women. As in The Soft Skin, the heroine, Barbara (Fanny Ardant), occupies room number 813 in the hotel, as a tribute to Maurice Leblanc;1 her surname is Becker, in homage to the director.2 At the beginning of the film, while the wife of Barbara’s boss lies murdered, one shot alludes to a phrase by Cocteau by framing a watch on the corpse’s wrist that continues ticking away the seconds;3 at the end, to unmask the murderer, the police inspector gives a recipe for potato salad over the phone that comes straight out of The Rules of the Game. The declaration of the lawyer – “Life is not a novel” – plays on the title of Resnais’s film.4 The Green Room points to cinema as a celebration of memory; Confidentially Yours illustrates this affirmation in a playful mode. The film is packed with internal references to Truffaut’s other works and citations of the master filmmakers. There is practically no shot, no phrase that does not involve a cinematic memory of one sort or another. Even the use of black and white is meant to evoke images from the past: “Confidentially Yours attempts to restore the mysterious, brilliant, nocturnal atmosphere of the American crime comedies that delighted us in years gone by. I think that the use of black and white will help us to recover that vanished charm.”5

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11. The Conversion of Autobiographical Emotion into Symbolic Figuration: William Shakespeare’s Hamlet

Alistair Fox Indiana University Press ePub

In the case of François Truffaut’s Jules and Jim, discussed in chapter 10, sufficient biographical information exists to allow one to infer Truffaut’s motivations by comparing his early attachment relationships with those of the author of his source, Henri-Pierre Roché, and then by triangulating both with their respective representations. In many instances, however, an equivalent amount of biographical information does not exist, meaning that one needs to infer the psychological dynamic of a fictive work from intrinsic rather than extrinsic evidence. The purpose of this chapter is to demonstrate how, even when very little biographical information about an author survives, the process of converting affective impulses into a fictive representation can be deduced by examining the emotions expressed in the work, the situations that give rise to them, and the strategies used to make them perceptible. Through this method, one can identify the symbolic figuration that has occurred during the creation of the work and, on the basis of that, speculate on the author’s purpose for its composition.

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Introduction: The Secret of the Art

Gillain, Anne Indiana University Press ePub

 

FRANÇOIS TRUFFAUT BELIEVED THAT FILMMAKERS FROM THE past were the guardians of a lost secret, a nostalgia which haunted him. His achievement, having studied the art of his predecessors, was to know how to replicate this secret in his films. Since the appearance of his first film, The 400 Blows, Truffaut’s work has moved audiences of all nationalities, ages, and cultures around the world. Thirty years after its creation, however, his oeuvre remains mysterious in terms of its dynamics, strategies, and aims. The qualities for which he is generally known (clarity, intelligence, sensitivity, humor), unremarkable in themselves, are not sufficient to explain fully the strange hold that his films have exercised over the imagination of spectators. The aim of this book, therefore, is to explore this phenomenon and respond to the three main questions that it prompts: What does Truffaut say in his films? How does he say it? Why do people everywhere listen to it?

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3 Queen-Women: Jules and Jim (1962), The Last Metro (1980)

Gillain, Anne Indiana University Press ePub

JULES AND JIM AND THE LAST METRO WOULD SEEM TO HAVE little in common apart from an adulterous schema involving one woman and two men. While it is central in the first film, this situation remains marginal in the second one, which depicts the activities of a theater under the Nazi Occupation. Moreover, there is a contrast between black-and-white and color, between the adaptation of a novel and an original screenplay, between the outdoors and an enclosed space, and between the study of a trio as against a polyphonic construction that brings together 15 characters. Nevertheless, both films were made to celebrate Jeanne Moreau and Catherine Deneuve, both of whom played an important role in Truffaut’s personal life. Jules and Jim and The Last Metro are works inspired by the idealization of a female figure. Their autobiographical dimension, however, extends beyond the recent past; each film, like a palimpsest, reveals several different layers of memories in Truffaut that are joined together through a play of analogies. Speaking about Jules and Jim in 1975, he made the following admission:

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