Monthly Film – August

Jules and Jim (Jules et Jim) 1962
by François Truffaut

POSTER FOR MAILWednesday 19th August 2015 – 6.00pm
at
National Film Corporation Theater
303, Bauddhaloka Mawatha,
Colombo 7.

 

 

 

Jules and Jim (Jules et Jim)
Hailed as one of the finest films ever made, Jules and Jim charts, over twenty-five years, the relationship between two friends and the object of their mutual obsession. The legendary François Truffaut directs, and Jeanne Moreau stars as the alluring and willful Catherine, whose enigmatic smile and passionate nature lure Jules (Oskar Werner) and Jim (Henri Serre) into one of cinema’s most captivating romantic triangles. An exuberant and poignant meditation on freedom, loyalty, and the fortitude of love, Jules and Jim was a worldwide smash in 1962 and remains every bit as audacious and entrancing today.

Synopsis

In the carefree days before World War I, introverted Austrian author Jules (Oskar Werner) strikes up a friendship with the exuberant Frenchman Jim (Henri Serre). Both men fall for the impulsive and beautiful Catherine (Jeanne Moreau), but it’s Jules who wins her hand. After the war, Jim visits Jules, Catherine and their daughter in their Austrian home and discovers not only that his feelings for Catherine are unchanged, but also that they’re reciprocated.

Paris, 1907. Jules, étudiant allemand, et Jim, étudiant français, font connaissance, sympathisent et sont bientôt liés par une amitié profonde. Ils partagent les mêmes goûts en matière de livres, d’art et de femmes. Ils font ensemble un voyage dans le Sud méditerranéen et découvrent, sur un champ de fouilles, une statue dont le merveilleux sourire les bouleverse. De retour à Paris, ils sont éblouis de retrouver ce sourire sur les lèvres de Catherine, une jeune femme rencontrée par hasard. Un quiproquo précipite événements et décisions. C’est Jules que Catherine épousera, sans pour autant cesser d’aimer Jim. La guerre éclate. Le trio ne se reformera qu’après l’Armistice…

Reviews of the film

A shadowy figure amid the 20th-century beau monde – friend to Picasso and Gertrude Stein, and buyer for the American art collector John Quinn – Henri-Pierre Roché waited until his 70s to publish his teasingly semi-autobiographical debut novel, which became one of the 20th century’s most famous depictions of a ménage-a-trois.

Jules and Jim are best friends – perhaps soulmates – who together pursue a charmed life of bohemian indulgence in turn-of-the-century Paris. Drifting from liaison to liaison they share their women as easily as wine, without jealousy or regret – and then they meet Kate. With her “archaic” smile and lips made for “milk – and blood”, Kate is obedient only to the diktat: “He that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword.” Marrying first Jules and then Jim, Kate draws all three into an ecstatic cycle of intimacy and betrayal, unleashing a seemingly limitless capacity for tenderness, forgiveness and revenge until their passions eventually burn out.

Roché’s guileless prose lends the quality of a parable to his story, which is startling in its erotic candour and its visionary pursuit of love. Kate owes much – perhaps too much – to the figure of the eternal feminine: cruel, beautiful and volatile, she is more archetype than actuality. But that is not really Roché’s concern – instead he probes the “essential quality of our intimate emotions”, laying bare the complex and paradoxical dynamics of desire.

Today the novel is eclipsed by François Truffaut’s celebrated nouvelle vague film starring Jeanne Moreau, and Truffaut contributes a valuable afterword to this edition. Reflecting on the film in 2000, Moreau described it as “the dreamed image of amorous life”; in its exuberant rejection of conventional morality, Roché’s novel describes an emotional logic that is both inscrutable and compelling.

~ Lettie Ransley, theguardian.com

Lorsqu’il cita pour la première fois le roman Jules et Jim dans l’une de ses critiques de la revue Arts, François Truffaut n’avait pas ­réalisé de film. Il se fit la promesse de commencer sa carrière de ­cinéaste en adaptant cet extraordinaire livre d’Henri-Pierre ­Roché, un vieil inconnu de 76 ans.

Même si Truffaut retarda le projet, Jules et Jim fête le passage d’un homme de mots vers un monde d’ima­ges : c’est un hymne au plaisir d’« entrer en cinéma ». Tout en gardant un ton très littéraire, il met en scène la rage d’aimer, à travers des scènes purement ­visuelles. A la lecture du livre, le cinéaste fut « frappé par le caractère scabreux des situations et la pureté de l’ensemble ». Son film réussit le même tour de force. Il évoque la discipline fervente d’une femme libre, décidée à « inventer l’amour ». Jeanne Moreau mord à pleines dents dans ce rôle d’égérie grave et gourmande. Cachée derrière le titre doublement masculin, elle est le pilier central de cet éblouissant chef-d’oeuvre.

~ Marine Landrot, www.telerama.fr