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DVD Review: The Films of François Truffaut

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The tremors of the French New Wave run very deep through cinema. François Truffaut was one of the defining voices of that movement. He became a daring, pioneering film critic, writing in the seminal publication Cahiers du Cinéma and in the late 1950s and early 60s joined a range of writers and filmmakers to bring in a new wave of eclectic, weird, exciting, imaginative but still very real. He positioned his camera so we, as viewers, could not just be impressed by the beautiful images he brought to the screen but also the emotional intelligence of his storytelling and his investigations into childhood, love and family life.

His films have been curiously lacking in definitive, dedicated editions when it comes to home entertainment, particularly in the UK. Thankfully, British distributor Artificial Eye (one of the closest things we have in the UK to a Criterion Collection) have reissued Truffaut’s films in new Blu-ray and DVD editions; the perfect option for people both new to his extraordinary output and those who would like to complete their collection.

The titles made available in newly remastered HD editions include: The 400 Blows, The Soft Skin, Anne & Muriel, Bed & Board, Stolen Kisses, A Gorgeous Girl Like Me and Shoot the Pianist. Sadly, the Blu-ray editions were unavailable to review; only the DVD versions were ready in time. Although DVD is an awful way to watch a movie due to its major image restrictions, I can say the films provided on these discs are of a noticeably higher picture quality than previous editions thanks to the new restoration processes. If they look this good on DVD I can only imagine how amazing they will look on Blu-ray.

Although this selection includes many notable gems (Stolen Kisses is a particularly fascinating film), the real standout for me is The 400 Blows, Truffaut’s classic that is a wonderful story about childhood frustration and confusion. If any film has ever entirely understood what it is like to be young, it is this film. It is a film to watch, rewatch and revel in.  

François Truffaut’s films are released on Blu-ray and DVD by Artificial Eye this autumn.

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