Diving back into vinyl this weekend for the original soundtrack recording to Francois Truffaut‘s landmark film Jules et Jim from 1962, composed by the veteran film composer Georges Delerue, who frequently collaborated with Truffaut throughout his career and has been long considered one of the great European film composers.
One of the seminal films of the French New Wave (Nouvelle Vague), Jules et Jim is an inventive encyclopedia of the language of cinema: Truffaut incorporated newsreel footage, photographic stills, freeze frames, panning shots, wipes, masking, dolly shots, and voiceover narration (by Michel Subor). Truffaut’s cinematographer was Raoul Coutard, a frequent collaborator with Jean-Luc Godard, who employed the latest lightweight cameras to create an extremely fluid film style. For example, some of the postwar scenes were shot using cameras mounted on bicycles.
The evocative musical score is by Georges Delerue. One song, “Le Tourbillon” (“The Whirlwind”) by Serge Rezvani, which sums up the turbulence of the lives of the three main characters, became a popular hit.
The dialogue is predominantly in French, with occasional lines in German and one line in English.
Jeanne Moreau incarnates the style of the French New Wave actress. The critic Ginette Vincindeau has defined this as, “beautiful, but in a kind of natural way; sexy, but intellectual at the same time, a kind of cerebral sexuality—this was the hallmark of the nouvelle vague woman.” Though she isn’t in the film’s title, Catherine is “the structuring absence. She reconciles two completely opposed ideas of femininity.”
The film has been considered one of the 100 greatest movies of all time, and has been required viewing for just about every Cinema student who ever wanted to pick up a camera.
First off – if you haven’t seen Jules et Jim – stop right here and either search for it via Netflix or pick up the DVD from Amazon. If you aren’t used to films with subtitles it might take a little time. If you aren’t used to films in Black and White – that could take some getting used to as well. But, by all means spend some time with this film – the soundtrack will make much more sense as this represents a classic film that was revolutionary for its time.
However you do it, enjoy it.