Monday, October 18, 2004

Day for Night - A film by Francois Truffaut

Just saw this movie. It is directed by Truffaut, who is a master of making movies with minimalistic stories. You can describe the story of the movie in a single sentence - it is a movie which shows the joy of making movies.

The movie begins and ends in a movie set, where a french film called "Je vous presente Pamela", which is so obviously going to be a baaaad movie! It shows the fast-paced and stressed lives of the people involed in the film.

What I liked about the film was that it gave me some idea about the workings of a movie set. How they shoot a chaotic outdoor scene, the use of the "day for night" filter (its a filter that they use to shoot night scenes in broad daylight), sound recordings, the jugaad people do at the last moment, the creation of props, etc, etc. The problems of making movies is also shown. There is a cat which doesnt drink its milk and a complex scene has to be reshot as the labs messed up the previous take! Poeple are difficult too. Temperamental actors who have to brought out of their dressing rooms with country cheese or from the go-karting track... "Is is amazing how vulnerable we actors are". "No, it is normal. Nobody likes to be criticized and judged; many have fears about it being judged is so important in your profession, both in your work and outside your work."

Of course, it had the Truffaut touch that kept the film from becoming maudlin; all Truffaut movies have scripts that a second-rate director would have made into a greek tragedy.

The people involved in the movie are all in love with the process of movie making. The lead actor is always looking for an opportunity to go to the movies. "Little restaurants? You must be joking! Don't you know Nice has 37 movies? We can grab a sandwich." And there is the scripwriter who says, "I'd drop a guy for a film, I'd never drop a film for a guy." The fondness they all hold for making movies is revealed throughout the film. "People like us are only happy in our work."
The film ends with the end of the shooting of Pamela. "How strange our lives, huh? We come together, we were like a family, there is so much love and puff, we dont have time to pick up something to, puff, it disappeared."

The only aspect of the print I watched that I didnt like was the dubbing. It was atrocious. I would have preferred to watch the original french print with english subs, rather than watch the way the Americans butcher the foreign films with their dubbing.

I have watched two other Truffaut movies - Jules et Jim and The last metro, and I think that Jules et Jim was the best of these three. Day for night is very good movie to watch if you are enthralled by the art of movie making but just isnt as great as the other two.

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