1 January 2020

François Truffaut's Jules et Jim (1962)

Jules (Oskar Werner), an Austrian, and Jim (Henri Serre), a Frenchman but whose forename is pronounced with a 'd' sound as in English, are friends in pre-World War I France, and meet and fall in love with Catherine (Jeanne Moreau). This brilliant French classic is so well known that I shall spare readers the details of the rest of the plot, which has echoes in many subsequent films. No, I merely list some of the moments in this film which particularly affect me, most of them I'm sure of which appeal to many other people too: to me a work of art is not really the sum of its parts, but made up of moments, many of which remain with us long after we've forgotten other moments, even the plot. One such example in another film is Bo Widerberg's Elvira Madigan, where we see the red wine slowly leaving the down-turned bottle, as the relationship of the lovers flows out of them. But I digress – my Jules et Jim moments:

–– Catherine (as 'Thomas') wearing a checked cap and moustache, passing off as a man when 'another' asks 'him' for a light, and then winning the race on the bridge by cheating.

–– The trio finding fascinating but – importantly – financially worthless objects on their walk through the woods.

–– Catherine casually jumping into the river and being retrieved by a very concerned Jules et Jim.

–– Albert (Serge Rezvani/Cyrus Bassiak) playing his unforgettable 'Le Tourbillon de la vie' to the equally unforgettable song by Jeanne Moreau. Legendary.

–– Catherine killing both herself and Jim in a car in Limay, Mantes-la-Jolie (Yvelines).

–– Jules walking away in Père Lachaise after seeing the ashes of Catherine and Jim put in their pigeon holes in the external part of the columbarium, walking past the grave of George Courteline.

A beautiful movie.

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