FT eBook cover $9.99 on Kindle, Nook, Apple iBooks, Kobo, Google Play

(cover by
Susan Erony)

François Truffaut by Annette Insdorf (94,000 words and 74 illustrations)

Truffaut’s films beautifully demonstrate the idea that a film can express its director as personally as a novel can reveal its author. Moreover, his development of a gently self-conscious visual style made him more than the entertainer he believed he was: there is genuine artistry in his motion pictures. He affected the course of French cinema — indeed world cinema — by blending auteurist art with accessible cinematic storytelling.

Unlike other New Wave directors such as Jean-Luc Godard, Truffaut preferred idiosyncratic characters (like the semi-autobiographical Antoine Doinel) and universal emotions (especially desire and fear) to political tracts or didactic essays. Instead of the elitism or self-indulgence that characterize much of European cinema, Truffaut’s movies were meant to touch people from different countries, times, and classes. And they keep succeeding in this aim. Truffaut’s cinema remains a model of intimate, reasonably budgeted, sophisticated filmmaking that can still speak delightfully and profoundly to an international audience.

Long considered the definitive study of Truffaut’s genius, this revised and updated edition of
François Truffaut includes fresh insights and an extensive section on the director’s last five films — Love on the Run, The Green Room, The Last Metro, The Woman Next Door, and Confidentially Yours. While not a biography of the director, Insdorf captures in this study the essence and totality of Truffaut’s work. She discusses his contributions to the French New Wave, his relations with his mentors Hitchcock and Renoir, and the dominant themes of his cinema — women, love, children, language. She explores his life in relation to his films, from The 400 Blows to The Man Who Loved Women.


“The most sensitive and intelligent book in the English language about my work.” —
François Truffaut

“Everyone who loves Truffaut will be delighted to welcome this book to their library.” —
Miloš Forman, director of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Amadeus

“Annette Insdorf’s book on Truffaut is the best I know.” — Charles Champlin,
The Los Angeles Times

“Relevant, illuminating, clever, moving, sane... intelligible.” —
Roger Greenspun, film critic

“[A]n astute and insightful examination of the director’s work along thematic and psychological lines... Insdorf carefully weaves a complex matrix of loose chords, individual motifs, and personal obsessions that amount to a strikingly coherent vision... Insdorf’s analysis provides the reader with the best examination yet of Truffaut’s work.” — Dan Yakir,
Film Comment

“Insdorf... succeeds masterfully in fulfilling the purpose of her study of François Truffaut... [an] engaging and sympathetic study.” — Richard Williamson,
The French Review

“Francois Truffaut has been blessed with intelligent and perceptive critics throughout his career... Annette Insdorf’s new book fits snugly into this tradition of excellence, and even goes the earlier studies one better by treating the films with the comprehensiveness they deserve... The most striking feature of Insdorf’s study is the intense concentration she brings to her discussion of each film. Her insights come thick and fast, in the best New Critical fashion... This is an especially insightful, highly intelligent study.” — Peter Brunette,
Film Quarterly

“Each chapter in this well-researched and informative book contains extended comparisons of Truffaut’s films. Each aims at specifying the thematic and stylistic continuities that define Truffaut as an auteur... Insdorf’s mastery of the auteurist approach produces a remarkable synthesis of thematic and stylistic continuities.” — Paul Sandro,
The French Review

“Insdorf’s forte is comparative exposition and synthetic vision. Her early chapters on Truffaut’s sources, Hitchcock and Renoir, and the latter ones on women, children and Truffaut autobiographical films are replete with gems of comparative analysis, e.g. her instructive comparison of
Rules of the Game and Day For Night, and the insightful relating of jazz with Truffaut’s own improvisation in early films.” — Francis I. Kane, Literature/Film Quarterly

“Insdorf’s insights regarding the famous films are on the mark, and she makes an eloquent case for those not so well thought of.” —
Variety