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François Truffaut: The Lost Secret Paperback – June 7, 2013

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

French filmmaker Truffaut was captivated by the secrets of silent filmmaking, the ability to convey visceral emotions on film. Gillain explores Truffaut’s search for that secret as well as the more personal secret that eluded him, the ways his own films revealed his subconscious desires. Gillain was before her time when she wrote this psychobiography more than 20 years ago, examining how Truffaut’s childhood memories of abandonment inspired a succession of motifs in his films focused on distant mother figures for whom the characters search. Truffaut’s motto, that films were “ivory eggs” to be viewed but not broken into, reflected his sense that understanding interfered with the creative process. Gillain examines Truffaut’s works in pairs, contrasting their motifs with unconscious efforts to work out conflicts in his life, from his troubled childhood to his affair with actress Catherine Deneuve. Among the films she pairs and analyzes are The 400 Blows and The Woman Next Door; and Shoot the Piano Player and The Soft Skin. Truffaut fans will love this English translation of Gillain’s work drawing on the psychology and cinematography of the acclaimed filmmaker. --Vanessa Bush


"In her brilliant book, François Truffaut: The Lost Secret... Gillain serves us with a delicious reexamination of someone’s work that will make us want to sit down and take in all of Truffaut’s wonderful filmography at once." ―PopMatters

"Long a major work within French film and the cinema of François Truffaut, Anne Gillain’s volume provides an important perspective on Truffaut and his films that is still quite relevant for historians and theorists today. Most importantly, Alistair Fox’s meticulous and lively translation is nothing short of amazing. Everyone working seriously on Truffaut and his legacy must refer to and engage with Gillain’s arguments, so it is wonderful finally to see her book available in English, and especially in such a fine a translation." ―Richard Neupert, author of A History of the French New Wave Cinema

"You’ll find no better critical study of Truffaut than this one by Anne Gillain. Her chapters ingeniously pair films to expose the secret that informs them all. We peer through these chapters as through a series of stereoscopic slides and find 'la Planète Truffaut' lying before us in vivid 3-D." ―Dudley Andrew, R. Seldon Rose Professor of Film and Comparative Literature, Yale University

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"Truffaut fans will love this English translation of Gillain’s work drawing on the psychology and cinematography of the acclaimed filmmaker." ―Booklist

"Gillain's preface is succinct, lucid and illuminating." ―Spectator

"In addition to its trenchant anatomizing of Truffaut, this work is an excellent examination of the process of creation.... Highly recommended." ―Choice

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 374 pages
  • Publisher: Indiana University Press (June 7, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0253008395
  • ISBN-13: 978-0253008398
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,012,573 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Frank on January 20, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I love this book, and it has prompted me to study more of Truffaut's films. It is an excellent survey of Truffaut's films, but has been criticized for its psychoanalytical notions. I don't find these to be excessive or inappropriate, even though I consider psychoanalysis to be passe. Psychological theory is essentially handicapped by the disparity between interesting questions and methodloogy that cannot reach those interesting questions while standing on scientific foundations, and psychoanalysis wasn't satisfied only to tiptoe above those foundations. Gillain's basic analysis of Truffaut is plausible enough to me. Further, Truffaut refers to psychoanalysis in his interview of Hitchcock. Psychoanalytic theory (e.g. Norman Brown's "Life Against Death") was popular when Truffaut made his films. Gillain's analysis shows interesting relationships among the themes in many of Truffaut's films. I watched "The Wild Child" after reading about it in her book. This film, with a rather scientific attitude derived from Dr. Itard's book, "Victor of Aveyron," has none of the sexual intrigue found in Truffaut's best films, but those who know him as the author of "The 400 Blows" can appreciate the richness of his performance as the often puzzled Dr. Itard, since he was himself a wild child before he became a film maker. This perception alone would make Gillain's book worth reading. Her style is lively and consistently interesting, and she has much to say. Truffaut liked talking with her, and I recommend her book highly.
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