Biography of Francois Truffaut

Director, screenwriter, actor, critic, and producer, Francois Truffaut is one of the most formidable auteurs of French cinema. He is one of the influential founders of the French New Wave, one of the most important movements in film history. The New Wave was characterized by its rejection of convention, its formal risk-taking, and its interest in social issues. His masterpiece, The 400 Blows, was celebrated by critics and audiences alike at the time of its release, winning him awards at Cannes and catapulting him into the spotlight and bringing him international recognition. In addition to his films, he popularized the auteur theory, which posits that movies must be inextricably linked to their author, the director. An "auteur" is, in Truffaut's opinion, a director who has complete and utter control of their work, much like an author of a book. He once said, "There are no good or bad movies, only good and bad directors."

In many ways, we can look to The 400 Blows to give us a sense of Truffaut's own early biography. While the film is a fiction, it bears some similarities to Truffaut's life. Like Antoine, Truffaut did not know his biological father, had a stepfather who gave him his surname, was mostly rejected by his biological family, and was passed around between various caretakers throughout his early life. He was frequently expelled from school, and at the age of 14 decided to pursue his own education, in which he watched 3 movies a day and read 3 books a week.

Truffaut famously looked down on mainstream French cinema, preferring the work of directors like Jean Renoir, Robert Bresson, Jean Cocteau, and Jacques Tati. The 400 Blows is credited as beginning the French New Wave, and its experimental tenets reflected some of the film criticism that Truffaut had written over the years. After The 400 Blows, Truffaut directed Shoot the Piano Player, which was met with modest success. Next was Jules and Jim, starring Jeanna Moreau, one of Truffaut's most iconic films. Other films include The Bride Wore Black, Mississippi Mermaid, Stolen Kisses, The Wild Child, Day for Night, The Story of Adele H., Small Change, The Last Metro, and Antoine and Colette.

Study Guides on Works by Francois Truffaut

The 400 Blows is the debut film of French director Francois Truffaut. The film was released in 1959 in France and was an unexpected success. The film was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay and at the Cannes Film Festival...

Released in early 1962, Jules and Jim is one of the landmark films that defines the French New Wave of the late 50’s/early 60’s directed by perhaps its most iconic figure, Francois Truffaut. The title characters are the Austrian and French men who...