L'enfance nue (1968) is a French movie. Maurice Pialat has directed this movie. Michel Terrazon,Linda Gutenberg,Raoul Billerey,Pierrette Deplanque are the starring of this movie. It was released in 1968. L'enfance nue (1968) is considered one of the best Drama movie in India and around the world.
A ten-year-old boy feels unwanted when his mother places him in a home for wayward children. He goes to a foster home where a family of workers finds him to be too much for them. When the unruly child discovers the family plans to give up on him, he kills their daughter's cat in retaliation. He is sent to another home where he is cared for by an elderly couple. The boy takes to the wife's elderly mother, who reaches out to the disturbed boy. His deliberate disobedience lessens somewhat in his new environment, but he is arrested after throwing bolts at cars from a bridge. The boy tries to overcome his mother's rejection and struggles to boost his self-image in this childhood drama.
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Well... Les 400 coups has been placed at no. 140 in IMDb's list of all-time great films, and as much as I admire Francois Truffaut's work, I am more impressed by L'Enfance nue, Pialat's first film, made when he was 43. Owing to the vagaries of the distribution system, I never saw it when it first appeared, and am now able to write about it thanks to TFO's enlightened film series. Pialat was a realist, maybe to the point of turning off his audiences. If you have seen A nos amours or Loulou, you know you're in for a gruelling experience. Actors pushed to the breaking point, cutting that puts you right in the action, without any establishing background. The scene between Francois and Raoul, where the latter gets out of bed to look for Francois, then the knife slams into the door, just missing Raoul's head by inches, is unforgettable. The actors are mostly amateurs; they do not try to attract your attention with gestures or speech, they just settle in and tell the story. The "assistance publique" workers are sympathetically rendered: there's no hint of Pialat trying to settle scores with government agencies (cf Une si jolie petite plage). The Minguet family, the second one we see--how many have there been in all?--is beautifully drawn. Just to watch Madame bringing soup to Meme, arranging the clothes, the napkin, it's a marvel of observation. The story hinges on Francois, of course, and his performance is angry, violent, joyous, destructive--he's Pialat's alter ego, I can't help but feel.
Looking not unlike Jean-Pierre Léaud, Michel Tarrazon's young 10 year-old tearaway François could very well be an alternative continuation of the story of Truffaut's Antoine Doinel after the 400 Blows (Truffaut indeed was one of the film's producers alongside Claude Berri), but the treatment from Maurice Pialat, in his first feature film, is notably more harshly realist. Abandoned by his parents, François is passed from one foster family to another, each of them finding it impossible to control a young boy who inevitably has behavioural problems and gets into a lot of trouble torturing cats, stealing from other kids and wielding a large knife. Although he is given love and affection by the poor families who take him in for the little extra money they will receive, he inevitably never feels like he belongs and ends up turning against the people who want to help him. Made when he was 43 years old, L'Enfance Nue clearly has strongly autobiographical elements although Pialat wasn't placed in the hands of the social services, he was brought up by his grandparents and did feel abandoned by his parents. The film also depicts the social circumstances of the period and the poverty of the outlying suburban districts (already the subject of the director's 1961 short film L'Amour Existe). Using non-professional actors, L'Enfance Nue consequently also has a certain almost documentary-like realism that would become characteristic of Pialat's hard-hitting style.
* GUARANTEED SPOILER-FREE COMMENT * We're talking about real world cinema here, do don't expect any fantasy, ornament, or any other Hollywood recipe. But hey, how often do you get hit in the stomach by a movie ? I'll summarize the movie's endeavor by a question : "what's love to a child that has not been loved ?" I will add that in addition to flawless directing, we get fantastic amateur acting, plus a good document on (working class) France in the 60's (OK, not ALL of you out there are interested in that, but i must be honest, right ?).
This is Maurice Pialat's debut movie and François Truffuat offered him to produce his first effort. Not only because he was at the time a seasoned filmmaker (a dozen of films so far for a man who was 36 years old whereas Pialat shot his first film when he was 42!) but because the topic could only please him. Indeed, Truffaut's first film, "les 400 coups" (1959) revolved around the same subject and was a big critical, commercial hit. However, Truffaut like the rest of the crew who worked with Pialat wasn't prepared to the director's unconventional shooting methods and consequently the two men will never talk to each other again for several years. Pialat used to say that he refused everything planned in the shooting of his films and "l'Enfance Nue" was inescapable to this scheme. Better, it was indispensable to have a genuine, deeply moving work as a result. Created in the chaos with tensions and having to rely on a shoestring budget, "l'Enfance Nue" is part of the top five films about stolen childhood alongside Julien Duvivier's "Poil De Carotte" (1932) and Luigi Commencini's "Incompreso" (1966). What "les 400 Coups" tried to reach, "l'Enfance Nue" achieved it. It's a much stronger flick than Truffaut's very overrated work. The piece of work from the former critic at the fusty "Cahiers Du Cinéma" suffered from a loose narration and cardboard characters which made it a bit humdrum to watch. Given the two other films Pialat gave us after his 1969 vintage: "Nous Ne Vieillirons Pas Ensemble" (1972) and "La Gueule Ouverte" (1974), these three films have often been perceived as a sort of trilogy of life and Pialat's treatment of stolen childhood is drastically different to Truffaut's. He opted for a nearly documentary approach and tried as best as he could to reproduce working class life as it was in the Northern France of the sixties. A method he will tap again with gusto for his next two films. And you can only marvel at Pialat's remarkable camera work and observation. The hero François is a cruel child, perhaps worse than Antoine Doinel who never threw a cat from the top of the stairs! He goes from household to household because his adoptive parents can't stand his cruelty. He's not the only one like that. At the beginning of the film, Pialat shows us numerous orphans in an orphanage who can't manage to find adoptive parents. But when François is put up by an elderly couple, he seems to have found human warmth and comfort from them. Feeling Pialat manages to convey to the audience in an astounding way. You must be tender towards the attention these little old people give to François like when Granny offers him a piece of cake after François was involved in a fight. And in a sequence close to "Cinéma Vérité", they talk about François with their own words and how much do they understand him! More than François's tragic story, Pialat's work encompasses a word picture of Northern France with its ways of life. His depiction is all the more genuine as he hired non professional actors who are in their own roles. During the shooting, Pialat used to write down excerpts of conversation these inhabitants had and to incorporate them in his film. This process of hiring "gifted amateurs" will be tapped again thirty years later for another film set in Northern France: Bruno Dumon's harrowing "la Vie De Jésus" (1997). Anyway, Pialat and Dumont understood well Robert Bresson's one of his cinematographic lessons: to hire non professional actors to reach the scale of purity. That's precisely what Pialat reached even if as a perfectionist he denied his film. A hard-hitting approach of naked childhood made without any embellishment. Pialat's debut film gains to be as famous and celebrated as Truffaut's so called masterpiece. And be prepared for a river of emotions!
It is quite extraordinary that 1968's L'Enfance Nue (or Naked Childhood) was the debut feature of a 43 year-old Maurice Pialat. Pialat would go on to direct a small number of highly-admired films after this, up until 1995, but it remains this film that he will be most remembered for. Similar in spirit but not in style to Francois Truffaut's masterpiece The 400 Blows, it follows the exploits of a troublemaking child who channels all of his rejection into ferocious anger that causes havoc with the people around him. Truffaut also has a co-producer credit for the film, although it would be the last time he would work with Pialat. A young boy, Francois (Michel Terrazon), is placed in a home for bad children when his frequent outbursts and often psychopathic acts become too much for his mother. He is eventually re-homed and put into the care of an elderly couple, who also look after another older child, Raoul. When Francois warms to the elderly lady, his behaviour begins to become less hostile and he becomes familiar with his new surroundings. But a lifetime spent being unwanted has left it's mark on Francois, and he constantly remains unpredictable. Francois kills a cat, throws a knife at his new 'brother', and repeatedly steals from the other children. He is a horrific creation, and every parent's nightmare. Pialat paints an interesting picture of France at the time. Without sledgehammering it home, he and the film depicts a time where a creeping poverty was lurking among the edges of suburbia. Perhaps this was one of the factors for Francois' parents being physically and mentally unable to keep the child, too distracted with their own situation that they don't have the time to get to the root of the problem. Or perhaps Francois is just a mischievous little bastard, and his inability to settle with one family before pushing them over the edge is his fault. L'Enfance Nue also has a surprisingly reserved depiction of the social services. They are seen simply doing their job, and repeatedly re- housing Francois every time he is rejected by a new foster family. This is where the genius lies in this film. Instead of using the film as a medium to send a social message (a la Ken Loach), Pialat sits back, points his camera, and tells a story. It is both complex and simple, but you would have to make your own mind up about that. Much like Jean-Pierre Leaud in The 400 Blows, Michel Terrazon is fantastic in the lead role, brimming with menace and an unpredictability. Although the comparisons seem obvious, it would be wholly unfair to carry on comparing this to Truffaut's film, as L'Enfance Nue is a fantastic film in it's own right. Like most of his films, this is considered somewhat autobiographical to Pialat, but how much is unclear. His filmmaking techniques seem similar to the attitudes of the title character - this film is in your face and hard-hitting. You can almost hear the director yelling 'if you don't like it, then f**k you!'. A very, very good film, and I shall be seeking out more Pialat because of it. A remarkable debut. www.the-wrath-of-blog.blogspot.com