François Truffaut and Alfred Hitchcock

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François Truffaut: I’d like to have your definition of the difference between “suspense” and “surprise.”

Alfred Hitchcock: There is a distinct difference between “suspense” and “surprise,” and yet many pictures continually confuse the two. I’ll explain what I mean.

We are now having a little chat. Let us suppose that there is a bomb underneath this table between us. Nothing happens, and then all of a sudden, “Boom!” There is an explosion. The public is surprised, but prior to this surprise, it has seen an absolutely ordinary scene, of no special consequence. Now, let us take a suspense situation. The bomb is underneath the table and the public knows it, probably because they have seen the anarchist place it there. The public is aware that the bomb is going to explode at one o’clock and there is a clock in the decor. The public can see that it is a quarter to one. In these conditions this same innocuous conversation becomes fascinating because the public is participating in the scene. The audience is longing to warn the characters on screen: “You shouldn’t be talking about such trivial matters. There’s a bomb beneath you and it’s about to explode!”

In the first case we have given the public fifteen seconds of surprise at the moment of the explosion. In the second we have provided them with fifteen minutes of suspense. The conclusion is that whenever possible the public must be informed. Except when the surprise is a twist, that is, when the unexpected ending is, in itself, the highlight of the story.

Cannes 1968

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Godard loses his glasses and Truffaut takes a spill during the chaos of the abortive screening of Peppermint Frappé at the 1968 Cannes Film Festival. Peppermint Frappé director Carlos Saura and star Geraldine Chaplin were among those trying to prevent the screening as part of the ongoing efforts to shut down the festival.

(Godard is clearly the Velma of the Nouvelle Vague.)

Les Mistons: a short film by François Truffaut.

 

Interviewer: You were a film critic for four years, but all the while you were looking for an opportunity to make a film, right?

Oh yes, absolutely. I started making little movies in 16mm that weren’t worth showing. They had all the same flaws as most amateur films: they were extremely pretentious; and they didn’t even have a storyline, which is the height of conceit for an amateur. I probably learned something from this work, like how to suggest rather than show. But in the first of these shorts, there was nothing but doors opening and closing—what a waste!

My first real film, in 1957, was “Les Mistons”—“The Mischief Makers” in English. It had the advantage of telling a story, which was not common practice for short films in those days! It also gave me the opportunity to start working with actors. But “Les Mistons” also had commentary interspersed with its dialogue, so that made making it much simpler. The film met with quite a bit of luck. It was awarded a prize at a festival in Brussels, I believe. “Les Mistons” is based on a story by Maurice Pons; it’s not my original script. I saw it as the first of a series of sketches. It was easier at the time, and would be even now, to find money for three or four different short films than to find enough financial support for a feature film. So I planned to do a series of sketches with the common thread of childhood. I had five or six stories from which I could choose. I started with “Les Mistons” because it was the easiest to shoot.

When it was finished, I wasn’t completely satisfied because the film was a little too literary. Let me explain: “Les Mistons” is the story of five children who spy on young lovers. And I noticed, in directing these children, that they had no interest in the girl, who was played by Gérard Blain’s wife, Bernadette Lafont; the boys weren’t jealous of Blain himself, either. So I had them do contrived things to make them appear jealous, and later this annoyed me. I told myself that I’d film with children again, but next time I would have them be truer to life and use as little fiction as possible.

François Truffaut

Two in the Wave

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Two in the Wave is the story of a friendship. Jean-Luc Godard was born in 1930; Francois Truffaut two years later. Love of movies brings them together. They write in the same magazines, Cahiers du Cinema and Arts. When the younger of the two becomes a filmmaker with “The 400 Blows”, which triumphs in Cannes in 1959, he helps his older friend shift to directing, offering him a screenplay which already has a title, A bout de souffle, or Breathless. Through the 1960s the two loyally support each other. History and politics separate them in 1968, when Godard plunges into radical politics but Truffaut continues his career as before. Between the two of them, the actor Jean-Pierre Leaud is torn like a child caught between two separated and warring parents. Their friendship and their break-up embody the story of French cinema.

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”.. a loving tribute to the two artists whose names will forever be associated with the Nouvelle Vague and the friendship that bonded them for so many years.” – Sean Axmaker, Turner Classic Movies

The 30 Harshest Filmmaker-on-Filmmaker Insults in History

1. Francois Truffaut on Michelangelo Antonioni:
“Antonioni is the only important director I have nothing good to say about. He bores me; he’s so solemn and humorless.”

2. Ingmar Bergman on Michelangelo Antonioni:
“Fellini, Kurosawa, and Bunuel move in the same field as Tarkovsky. Antonioni was on his way, but expired, suffocated by his own tediousness.”

3. Ingmar Berman on Orson Welles:
“For me he’s just a hoax. It’s empty. It’s not interesting. It’s dead. Citizen Kane, which I have a copy of — is all the critics’ darling, always at the top of every poll taken, but I think it’s a total bore. Above all, the performances are worthless. The amount of respect that movie’s got is absolutely unbelievable.”

4. Ingmar Bergman on Jean-Luc Godard:
“I’ve never gotten anything out of his movies. They have felt constructed, faux intellectual, and completely dead. Cinematographically uninteresting and infinitely boring. Godard is a fucking bore. He’s made his films for the critics. One of the movies, Masculin, Féminin, was shot here in Sweden. It was mind-numbingly boring.”

5. Orson Welles on Jean-Luc Godard:
“His gifts as a director are enormous. I just can’t take him very seriously as a thinker — and that’s where we seem to differ, because he does. His message is what he cares about these days, and, like most movie messages, it could be written on the head of a pin.”

6. Werner Herzog on Jean-Luc Godard:
“Someone like Jean-Luc Godard is for me intellectual counterfeit money when compared to a good kung-fu film.”

7. Jean-Luc Godard on Quentin Tarantino:
“Tarantino named his production company after one of my films. He’d have done better to give me some money.”

8. Harmony Korine on Quentin Tarantino:
“Quentin Tarantino seems to be too concerned with other films. I mean, about appropriating other movies, like in a blender. I think it’s, like, really funny at the time I’m seeing it, but then, I don’t know, there’s a void there. Some of the references are flat, just pop culture.”

9. Nick Broomfield on Quentin Tarantino:
“It’s like watching a schoolboy’s fantasy of violence and sex, which normally Quentin Tarantino would be wanking alone to in his bedroom while this mother is making his baked beans downstairs. Only this time he’s got Harvey Weinstein behind him and it’s on at a million screens.”

10. Spike Lee on Quentin Tarantino (and the “n-word” in his scripts):
“I’m not against the word, and I use it, but not excessively. And some people speak that way. But, Quentin is infatuated with that word. What does he want to be made — an honorary black man?”

11. Spike Lee on Tyler Perry:
“We got a black president, and we going back to Mantan Moreland and Sleep ‘n’ Eat?”

12. Tyler Perry on Spike Lee
“Spike can go straight to hell! You can print that… Spike needs to shut the hell up!”

13. Clint Eastwood on Spike Lee:
“A guy like him should shut his face.”

14. Jacques Rivette on Stanley Kubrick:
“Kubrick is a machine, a mutant, a Martian. He has no human feeling whatsoever. But it’s great when the machine films other machines, as in 2001.”

15. Jacques Rivette on James Cameron (and Steven Spielberg):
“Cameron isn’t evil, he’s not an asshole like Spielberg. He wants to be the new De Mille. Unfortunately, he can’t direct his way out of a paper bag. “

16. Jean-Luc Godard on Steven Spielberg:
“I don’t know him personally. I don’t think his films are very good.”

17. Alex Cox on Steven Spielberg:
“Spielberg isn’t a filmmaker, he’s a confectioner.”

18. Tim Burton on Kevin Smith (after Smith jokingly accused Burton of stealing the ending of Planet of the Apes from a Smith comic book):
“Anyone who knows me knows I would never read a comic book. And I would especially never read anything created by Kevin Smith.”

19. Kevin Smith on Tim Burton (in response to “I would never read a comic book”):
“Which, to me, explains fucking Batman.”

20. Kevin Smith on Paul Thomas Anderson (specifically, Magnolia):
“I’ll never watch it again, but I will keep it. I’ll keep it right on my desk, as a constant reminder that a bloated sense of self-importance is the most unattractive quality in a person or their work.”

21. David Gordon Green on Kevin Smith:
“He kind of created a Special Olympics for film. They just kind of lowered the standard. I’m sure their parents are proud; it’s just nothing I care to buy a ticket for.”

22. Vincent Gallo on Spike Jonze:
“He’s the biggest fraud out there. If you bring him to a party he’s the least interesting person at the party, he’s the person who doesn’t know anything. He’s the person who doesn’t say anything funny, interesting, intelligent… He’s a pig piece of shit.”

23. Vincent Gallo on Martin Scorsese:
“I wouldn’t work for Martin Scorsese for $10 million. He hasn’t made a good film in 25 years. I would never work with an egomaniac has-been.”

24. Vincent Gallo on Sofia (and Francis Ford) Coppola:
“Sofia Coppola likes any guy who has what she wants. If she wants to be a photographer she’ll fuck a photographer. If she wants to be a filmmaker, she’ll fuck a filmmaker. She’s a parasite just like her fat, pig father was.”

25. Vincent Gallo on Abel Ferrara:
“Abel Ferrara was on so much crack when I did The Funeral, he was never on set. He was in my room trying to pick-pocket me.”

26. Werner Herzog on Abel Ferrara:
“I have no idea who Abel Ferrara is. But let him fight the windmills… I’ve never seen a film by him. I have no idea who he is. Is he Italian? Is he French? Who is he?”

27. David Cronenberg on M. Night Shymalan:
“I HATE that guy! Next question.”

28. Alan Parker on Peter Greenaway (specifically The Draughtsman’s Contact):
“A load of posturing poo-poo.”

29. Ken Russell on Sir Richard Attenborough:
“Sir Richard (‘I’m-going-to-attack-the-Establishment-fifty-years-after-it’s-dead’) Attenborough is guilty of caricature, a sense of righteous self-satisfaction, and repetition which all undermine the impact of the film.”

30. Uwe Boll on Michael Bay:
“I’m not a fucking retard like Michael Bay.”

 

The 30 Harshest Filmmaker-on-Filmmaker Insults in History