Testament of Orpheus

Photos by Lucien Clergue

 

Le testament d’Orphée is a 1960 film directed by and starring Jean Cocteau. It is considered the final part of the Orphic Trilogy, following The Blood of a Poet (1930) and Orphée (1950). In the cast are Charles Aznavour, Lucia Bosé, María Casares, Nicole Courcel, Luis Miguel Dominguín, Daniel Gélin, Jean-Pierre Léaud, Serge Lifar, Jean Marais, François Périer and Françoise Sagan.

It also includes cameo appearances by Pablo Picasso and Yul Brynner. The film is in black-and-white, with just a few seconds of color film spliced in.

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Entangled Step by Step

“I am amazed to see how deliberately I have entangled myself step by step. To have seen my position so clearly, and yet to have acted so like a child!”

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
The Sorrows of Young Werther

 
 

Jean-Pierre Léaud, Claire Maurier and Albert Rémy on the set of The 400 Blows (François Truffaut, 1959)

Walking Around

François Truffaut (right) and Jean-Pierre Léaud, on the set of his film Baisers Volés, Luxembourg Gardens, Paris (France), February 1968

 
 

Sucede que me canso de ser hombre.
Sucede que entro en las sastrerías y en los cines
marchito, impenetrable, como un cisne de fieltro
navegando en un agua de origen y ceniza.

El olor de las peluquerías me hace llorar a gritos.
Sólo quiero un descanso de piedras o de lana,
sólo quiero no ver establecimientos ni jardines,
ni mercaderías, ni anteojos, ni ascensores.

Sucede que me canso de mis pies y mis uñas
y mi pelo y mi sombra.
Sucede que me canso de ser hombre.

Sin embargo sería delicioso
asustar a un notario con un lirio cortado
o dar muerte a una monja con un golpe de oreja.
Sería bello
ir por las calles con un cuchillo verde
y dando gritos hasta morir de frío.

No quiero seguir siendo raíz en las tinieblas,
vacilante, extendido, tiritando de sueño,
hacia abajo, en las tripas moradas de la tierra,
absorbiendo y pensando, comiendo cada día.

No quiero para mí tantas desgracias.
no quiero continuar de raíz y de tumba,
de subterráneo solo, de bodega con muertos,
aterido, muriéndome de pena.

Por eso el día lunes arde como el petróleo
cuando me ve llegar con mi cara de cárcel,
y aúlla en su transcurso como una rueda herida,
y da pasos de sangre caliente hacia la noche.

Y me empuja a ciertos rincones, a ciertas casas húmedas,
a hospitales donde los huesos salen por la ventana,
a ciertas zapaterías con olor a vinagre,
a calles espantosas como grietas.

Hay pájaros de color de azufre y horribles intestinos
colgando de las puertas de las casas que odio,
hay dentaduras olvidadas en una cafetera,
hay espejos
que debieran haber llorado de vergüenza y espanto,
hay paraguas en todas partes, y venenos, y ombligos.

Yo paseo con calma, con ojos, con zapatos,
con furia, con olvido,
paso, cruzo oficinas y tiendas de ortopedia,
y patios donde hay ropas colgadas de un alambre:
calzoncillos, toallas y camisas que lloran
lentas lágrimas sucias.

Pablo Neruda

1935

 
 

_______________________________________

 
 

It so happens I am sick of being a man.
And it happens that I walk into tailorshops and movie houses
dried up, waterproof, like a swan made of felt
steering my way in a water of wombs and ashes.

The smell of barbershops makes me break into hoarse sobs.
The only thing I want is to lie still like stones or wool.
The only thing I want is to see no more stores,no gardens,
no more goods, no spectacles, no elevators.

It so happens that I am sick of my feet
and my nails and my hair and my shadow.
It so happens I am sick of being a man.

Still it would be marvelous
to terrify a law clerk with a cut lily,
or kill a nun with a blow on the ear.
It would be great to go through the streets
with a green knife letting out yells
until I died of the cold.

I don’t want to go on being a root in the dark,
insecure, stretched out,
shivering with sleep,
going on down, into the moist guts of the earth,
taking in and thinking,
eating every day. I don’t want so much misery.

I don’t want to go on as a root and a tomb,
alone under the ground, a warehouse with corpses,
half frozen, dying of grief.

That’s why Monday, when it sees me coming with my convict face,
blazes up like gasoline,
and it howls on its way like a wounded wheel,
and leaves tracks full of warm blood
leading toward the night.
And it pushes me into certain corners,
into some moist houses,
into hospitals where the bones fly out the window,
into shoeshops that smell like vinegar,
and certain streets hideous as cracks in the skin.

There are sulphur-colored birds,
and hideous intestines hanging over the doors of houses that I hate,
and there are false teeth forgotten in a coffeepot,
there are mirrors that ought to have wept from shame and terror,
there are umbrellas everywhere, and venoms,
and umbilical cords.

I stroll along serenely, with my eyes, my shoes,
my rage, forgetting everything,
I walk by, going through office buildings and orthopedic shops,
and courtyards with washing hanging from the line: underwear,
towels and shirts from which slow dirty tears are falling.

English Translation by Robert Bly

Celebrating The Films Of Truffaut With New Prints

On October 2014, Nautilus Art Prints, in partnership with la Cinémathèque Française and MK2, presented four new posters celebrating the films of director François Truffaut: Les 400 Coups (1959), Jules et Jim (1962), Le Dernier Métro(1980) and Vivement Dimanche!(1983).

 
 

The 400 Blows by Paul Blow

 
 

Jules and Jim by Mick Wiggins

 
 

The Last Metro by Jonathan Burton

 
 

Confidentially Yours by François Schuiten

No Reason to Go On Much Beyond

“The ideas I get about Antoine Doinel, and the way Léaud plays him, are closely tied to adolescence; there’s something in the character that refuses to grow up. I’m like the silly father who continues to treat his twenty-three-year-old son like a child: “Blow your nose”; “Say hello to the nice lady.” That’s the problem with parents who won’t allow their children to grow up. People who do comic strips have the same problem: they create a character who will be the same age forever. But starting with Bed and Board, the character of Antoine had actually reached adulthood, so there was no reason to go on much beyond that. That’s why the cycle had to come to an end with Love on the Run. It has a deliberately, boldly, even desperately happy ending, unlike the endings of the previous four films in the cycle, all of which were open-ended.”

François Truffaut

 
 

Jean-Pierre Léaud

Children As Center of Gravity

“My favorite Rossellini film is Germany Year Zero [1947], probably because I have a weakness for movies that take childhood, or children, as their subject. Also because Rossellini was the first to depict children truthfully, almost documentary-style, on film. He shows them as serious and pensive—more so than the adults around them—not like picturesque little figures or animals. The child in Germany Year Zero is quite extraordinary in his restraint and simplicity. This was the first time in the cinema that children were portrayed as the center of gravity, while the atmosphere around them is the one that’s frivolous.”

François Truffaut

 
 

Jean-Pierre Léaud and François Truffaut, at Cannes Film Festival, 1966

 
 

French director and screenwriter François Truffaut on the set of his movie L’Argent de poche (Small Change). Photos by Christian Simonpietri, August 1975

 
 

L’Enfant Sauvage (The Wild Child), 1970

 
 

From birth François Truffaut was thrown into an undesired situation. As he was born out of wedlock, his birth had to remain a secret because of the social stigma associated with illegitimacy. He was registered as “A child born to an unknown father” in the hospital records. He was looked after by a nurse for an extended period of time. His mother eventually married and her husband Roland gave his surname, Truffaut, to François.

Although he was legally accepted as a legitimate child, his parents did not accept him. The Truffauts had another child who died shortly after birth. This experience saddened them greatly and as a result they despised François because of the memory of regret that he represented. He was an outcast from his earliest years, dismissed as an unwanted child. François was sent to live with his grandparents. It wasn’t until François’s grandmother’s death before his parents took him in, much to the dismay of his own mother. The experiences with his mother were harsh. He recalled being treated badly by her but he found comfort in his father’s laughter and overall spirit. The relationship with Roland was more comforting than the one with his own mother. François had a very depressing childhood after moving in with his parents. They would leave him alone whenever they would go on vacations. He even recalled memories of being alone during Christmas. Being left alone forced François into a sense of independence, he would often do various tasks around the house in order to improve it such as painting or changing the electric outlets. Sadly, these kind gestures often resulted in a catastrophic event causing him to get scolded by his mother. His father would mostly laugh them off.

Truffaut was married to Madeleine Morgenstern from 1957 to 1965, and they had two daughters, Laura (born 1959) and Eva (born 1961). Madeleine was the daughter of Ignace Morgenstern, managing director of one of France’s largest film distribution companies, and was largely responsible for securing funding for Truffaut’s first films. While he had affairs with many of his leading ladies – in 1968 he was the fiancé of Claude Jade – Truffaut and actress Fanny Ardant lived together from 1981 to 1984 and had a daughter, Joséphine Truffaut (born 28 September 1983).

A Series of Painful Memories

The Mischief Makers (François Truffaut, 1956). This short film demonstrates already some examples for Truffaut’s “trademark tracking shots” and would “help define his style” as well as “set Truffaut on a path for his career”.

 
 

“When I was shooting Les Mistons (The Mischief Makers), The 400 Blows already existed in my mind in the form of a short film, which was titled Antoine Runs Away.

 
 

 
 

I was disappointed by Les Mistons, or at least by its brevity. You see, I had come to reject the sort of film made up of several skits or sketches. So I preferred to leave Les Mistons as a short and to take my chances with a full-length film by spinning out the story of Antoine Runs Away. Of the five or six stories I had already outlined, this was my favorite, and it became The 400 Blows.

Antoine Runs Away was a twenty-minute sketch about a boy who plays hooky and, having no note to hand in as an excuse, makes up the story that his mother has died. His lie having been discovered, he does not dare go home and spends the night outdoors. I decided to develop this story with the help of Marcel Moussy, at the time a television writer whose shows for a program called If It Was You were very realistic and very successful. They always dealt with family or social problems. Moussy and I added to the beginning and the end of Antoine’s story until it became a kind of chronicle of a boy’s thirteenth year—of the awkward early teenaged years.

 
 

Notebook containing the first draft of the screenplay for The 400 Blows

 
 

Truffaut searches for a title for his first feature film

 
 

In fact, The 400 Blows became a rather pessimistic film. I can’t really say what the theme is—there is none, perhaps—but one central idea was to depict early adolescence as a difficult time of passage and not to fall into the usual nostalgia about “the good old days,” the salad days of youth. Because, for me in any event, childhood is a series of painful memories. Now, when I feel blue, I tell myself, “I’m an adult. I do as I please,” and that cheers me up right away. But then, childhood seemed like such a hard phase of life; you’re not allowed to make any mistakes. Making a mistake is a crime: you break a plate by mistake and it’s a real offense. That was my approach in The 400 Blows, using a relatively flexible script to leave room for improvisation, mostly provided by the actors. I was very happy in this respect with Jean-Pierre Léaud as Antoine, who was quite different from the original character I had imagined. And as we improvised more, the film became more pessimistic, then—in brief spurts, as a contrary reaction—so high-spirited that it almost became optimistic.

All I can say is that nothing in it is invented. What didn’t happen to me personally happened to people I know, to boys my age and even to people that I had read about in the papers. Nothing in The 400 Blows is pure fiction, then, but neither is the film a wholly autobiographical work.

There is indeed something anachronistic or composite-like about Antoine Doinel, but it’s difficult for me to define. I don’t really know who he is, except that he is a kind of mixture of Jean-Pierre Léaud and myself. He is a solitary type, a kind of loner who can make you laugh or smile about his misfortunes, and that allows me, through him, to touch on sad matters—but always with a light hand, without melodrama or sentimentality, because Doinel has a kind of courage about him. Yet he is the opposite of an exceptional or extraordinary character; what does differentiate him from average people, however, is that he never settles down into average situations. Doinel is only at ease in extreme situations: of profound disappointment and misery on the one hand, and total exhilaration and enthusiasm on the other. He also preserves a great deal of the childlike in his character, which means that you forget his real age. If he is twenty-eight, as Léaud was in 1972, you look at Doinel as if he were eighteen: a naïf, as it were, but a well-meaning one for all that.”

 

François Truffaut’s Last Interview
by Bert Cardullo

Seeking a Young Alter Ego

“I didn’t like the idea of finding a kid on the street and asking his parents, “Would you let him make a movie with me?” For this first feature film of mine about children, I wanted the children to be willing—both the children and their parents. So I used the ad to get them to come to a studio near the Champs-Elysées, where I was doing 16-mm. screen tests every Thursday. I saw a number of boys, one of whom was Jean-Pierre Léaud. He was more interesting than all the rest, more intense, more frantic even. He really, really wanted the part, and I think that touched me. I could feel during the shoot that the story improved, that the film became better than the screenplay, thanks to him.”

François Truffaut’s Last Interview
by Bert Cardullo

 
 

François Truffaut and Jean-Pierre Léaud on the set of Les Quatre Cents Coups (1959)

 
 

Seeking a young actor to play the autobiographical hero in The 400 Blows – François Truffaut first feature after three short films – Truffaut placed an ad in the newspaper France-Soir. Of the nearly 400 boys who answered, it was 14-year-old Jean-Pierre Léaud who stood out. Son of a screenwriter and an actress, Léaud was also a troubled youth whose school career was shaping up as disastrously as Truffaut’s had. In fact, one of the reasons Truffaut chose Jean-Pierre Léaud for the role of Antoine is his evocation of longing and nervousness. Truffaut notes that in casting Antoine He was looking for a “moral resemblance to the child I thought I had been”.

 
 

To watch Jean-Pierre Léaud’s audition for The 400 Blows, please take a gander at The Genealogy’s of Style‘s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Genealogy-of-Style/597542157001228?ref=aymt_homepage_panel

To Raise Hell

 

Les Quatre Cents Coups (The 400 Blows) is a 1959 French drama film, the debut by director François Truffaut; it stars Jean-Pierre Léaud, Albert Rémy, and Claire Maurier. One of the defining films of the French New Wave, it displays many of the characteristic traits of the movement. Written by Truffaut and Marcel Moussy, the film is about Antoine Doinel, a misunderstood adolescent in Paris who is thought by his parents and teachers to be a troublemaker. Filmed on location in Paris and Honfleur, it is the first in a series of five films in which Léaud plays the semi-autobiographical character.

Besides being a character study, the film is an exposé of the injustices of the treatment of juvenile offenders in France at the time.

Truffaut made four other films with Léaud depicting Antoine at later stages of his life. He meets his first love, Colette, in Antoine and Colette, which was Truffaut’s contribution to the 1962 anthology Love at Twenty. He falls in love with Christine Darbon (Claude Jade) in Stolen Kisses. He marries Christine in Bed and Board, but the couple have separated in Love on the Run.

 

 

The semi-autobiographical film reflects events of Truffaut’s and his friends’ lives. In style, it expresses Truffaut’s personal history of French film, with references to other works—most notably a scene borrowed wholesale from Jean Vigo‘s Zéro de conduite. Truffaut dedicated the film to the man who became his spiritual father, André Bazin, who died just as the film was about to be shot.

Filmmakers Akira Kurosawa, Luis Buñuel, Satyajit Ray, Jean Cocteau, Carl Theodor Dreyer, Richard Lester and Norman Jewison have cited The 400 Blows as one of their favorite movies. Kurosawa called it “one of the most beautiful films that I have ever seen”.

The English title is a straight translation of the French but misses its meaning, as the French title refers to the idiom “faire les quatre cents coups”, which means “to raise hell”. And that’s precisely what the main character does. On the first prints in the United States, subtitler and dubber Noelle Gilmore gave the film the title Wild Oats, but the distributor did not like that and reverted it to The 400 Blows. Before seeing it, some people thought the film covered the topic of corporal punishment.

 

Farewell

1

DESDE el fondo de ti, y arrodillado,
un niño triste, como yo, nos mira.

Por esa vida que arderá en sus venas
tendrían que amarrarse nuestras vidas.

Por esas manos, hijas de tus manos,
tendrían que matar las manos mías.

Por sus ojos abiertos en la tierra
veré en los tuyos lágrimas un día.

2

YO NO lo quiero, Amada.

Para que nada nos amarre
que no nos una nada.

Ni la palabra que aromó tu boca,
ni lo que no dijeron las palabras.

Ni la fiesta de amor que no tuvimos,
ni tus sollozos junto a la ventana.

3

(AMO el amor de los marineros
que besan y se van.

Dejan una promesa.
No vuelven nunca más.

En cada puerto una mujer espera:
los marineros besan y se van.

Una noche se acuestan con la muerte
en el lecho del mar.

4

AMO el amor que se reparte
en besos, lecho y pan.

Amor que puede ser eterno
y puede ser fugaz.

Amor que quiere libertarse
para volver a amar.

Amor divinizado que se acerca
Amor divinizado que se va.)

5

YA NO se encantarán mis ojos en tus ojos,
ya no se endulzará junto a ti mi dolor.

Pero hacia donde vaya llevaré tu mirada
y hacia donde camines llevarás mi dolor.

Fui tuyo, fuiste mía. Qué más? Juntos hicimos
un recodo en la ruta donde el amor pasó.

Fui tuyo, fuiste mía. Tu serás del que te ame,
del que corte en tu huerto lo que he sembrado yo.

Yo me voy. Estoy triste: pero siempre estoy triste.
Vengo desde tus brazos. No sé hacia dónde voy.

…Desde tu corazón me dice adiós un niño.
Y yo le digo adiós.

Pablo Neruda

 
 

 
 

1

“FROM the bottom of you, and kneeled,
a sad boy, like me, it watches.
For this life that burns in your veins,
it would have to tie out lives together.
By those hands, daughters of your hands,
they would have to kill my hands.
By your open eyes in the earth,
I will see in them, your tears one day.

2

I DO not want, my Love.
So that nothing can tie us
Nothing can unite us.
Not even words that sweeten your mouth,
not even what the words did not say.
Nor the love party that we never had.
nor your cries next to the window.

 
 

 
 

3

I LOVE the love of the sailors
they kiss and go
They leave a promise.
They never return again.
In every door, a women waits:
the sailors kiss and go.
One night they lie down with the death
in the bed of the sea.

4

I LOVE the love that distributes
in kisses, bed and bread.
Love the can be eternal
and love that can be fleeting.
Love that wants to liberate you
to return to love again.
Divine love that gets close
Divine love that goes away.

 
 

 
 

5

NO longer are my eyes enchanted by yours
and no longer will my pain be sweetened next to you.
But towards where it goes I will take your glance
and towards where you walk you will take my pain.
I was yours, you were mine. What more? Together we made
a bend in the route where love happened.
I was yours, you were mine. You will be of that it loves to you,
of that it cuts in your orchard which I have seeded.
I go. I am sad: but I am always sad.
I come from your arms. I do not know towards where I go.
From your heart, a boy says good bye to me.
And I tell him good bye.”

What Remains of Our Love?

 

QUE RESTE-T-IL DE NOUS AMOURS?

Ce soir le vent qui frappe à ma porte
Me parle des amours mortes
Devant le feu qui s’ éteint
Ce soir c’est une chanson d’ automne
Dans la maison qui frissonne
Et je pense aux jours lointains

{Refrain:}

Que reste-t-il de nos amours
Que reste-t-il de ces beaux jours
Une photo, vieille photo
De ma jeunesse
Que reste-t-il des billets doux
Des mois d’ avril, des rendez-vous
Un souvenir qui me poursuit
Sans cesse

Bonheur fané, cheveux au vent
Baisers volés, rêves mouvants
Que reste-t-il de tout cela
Dites-le-moi

Un petit village, un vieux clocher
Un paysage si bien caché
Et dans un nuage le cher visage
De mon passé

Les mots les mots tendres qu’on murmure
Les caresses les plus pures
Les serments au fond des bois
Les fleurs qu’on retrouve dans un livre
Dont le parfum vous enivre
Se sont envolés pourquoi?

{au Refrain}

 

_________________________________

 

WHAT REMAINS OF OUR LOVE?

Tonight the wind that slaps at my door
Speaks to me of past love affairs
Before the fire that wanes
Tonight it’s a song of autumn
In the house that shivers
And I think of days long ago

{Refrain: }

What remains of our love?
What remains of these beautiful days?
A photo, an old photo
Of my youth
What remains of the love letters
Of months in April, of rendez-vous
A memory that follows me
Incessantly

Withered good times, wind in hair
Stolen kisses, moving dreams
What remains of all that?
Tell me

A village, an old hometown
( A countryside so well hidden
And in a cloud the dear face
Of my past)

The words the tender words that one murmurs
The caresses most pure
The vows deep in the woods
The flowers one finds again in a book
The perfume of which inebriates you
That disappeared why?

{Refrain}

 

Que reste-t-il de nos amours? (What Remains of Our Love?) is a French popular song, with music by Léo Chauliac & Charles Trenet and lyrics by Charles Trenet.

The song was first recorded by Charles Trenet in 1943. It was used extensively in the François Truffaut’s film Stolen Kisses (1968), its French title, Baisers volés, having been taken from the song’s lyrics. The song was also used in the films Iris (Richard Eyre, 2001), Something’s Gotta Give“(Nancy Meyers, 2003) and Ces amours-là (Claude Lelouch, 2010). The song is best known to English-speaking audiences as I Wish You Love, with new lyrics by Albert A. Beach: introduced in 1957 by Keely Smith as the title cut of her solo debut album, I Wish You Love would become one of Smith’s signature songs.
 

To listen Charles Trenet’s song, please take a gander at The Genealogy of Style‘s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Genealogy-of-Style/597542157001228?ref=hl