Acclaimed OscarÂ(r)-nominated* director FranÃ§ois Truffaut (Small Change, Day for Night) has created an absorbing (Leonard Maltin) film about the true-life tale of a young boy found living alone in the woods of France in... more » the 1700s. Using actual journal entries, Truffaut not only directed and co-wrote the script with Jean Gruault, but also starred as the unflappable Doctor Jean-Marc-Gaspard Itard, the visionary who takes on the incredible task of civilizing The Wild Child. At The National Institute for the Deaf and Dumb in Paris, a barely clothed and dirty young boy is admitted. Found in a forest, the child is unable to speak, communicate or function in society. Christened Victor by the hospital staff, his case is taken up by Doctor Itard (Truffaut),a lone physician who has an unyielding dedication to re-integrating the lad into society. But the road to tame the beast is a rocky one and Itard will have to work tirelessly to teach Victor how to re-claim his place in the world even if it means staking his reputation on it! *1974: Dayfor Night« less
"No-frills, pared-to-the-bone film by Francois Truffaut concerning the true story of a "savage" pubescent who was captured in a forest in France, living like a beast. The story takes place at the turn of the 18th and 19th centuries, but, rather curiously, Truffaut makes no political commentary about post-Terror France. All in all, this is a rather excellent idea, one to be emulated by other period-piece makers who clog their movies with "historical figures", famous events, or other data that don't have much to do with whatever story they're telling. Here, Truffaut sticks strictly to the point. (A miracle, considering this director's track-record!) Scarcely deviating from the source-material -- a journal by the doctor who took responsibility for the child, domesticated him, and attempted to train him up into a proper little Frenchman -- the director lets the story itself do all the work. The documentary-feel to the the movie brings many interesting themes, one by one, to the surface. Not the least of which is the relativism of "happiness". Bored of the endless lessons ("match this shape with this object", etc.), the boy runs off only to discover the forest has been spoiled for him forever by the doting doctor and his maid, by the delicious food, by the comfortable sleeping quarters, by the glasses of water and milk, and so on. He returns home willingly, but his face, upon hearing the doctor say, "Tomorrow, we resume our lessons," says it all. (This movie makes a thematic companion-piece to Nicolas Roeg's pessimistic *Walkabout*.) Also of note is that Truffaut reverts to black & white in this film (it was made in 1970), perhaps because he was concerned that the soft, lovely colors of the French countryside would encourage sentimentality. Indeed: the rather grim B&W photography, the clinical approach to the material, the serious implications underlying the story, and even his own wooden performance as the doctor, all combine to shoo away happy-ending seekers."
Truffau's Tarzan Movie
Jonathan P. Walters | 10/21/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Before getting this DVD I'd only seen this film once before on TV sometime in the late 1970's. It was refreshing to see it once again particularly the prestine black and white form in which it is presented here.The plot concerns the effort of a doctor, played by Truffaut himself, to educate a feral child that has been found in a forrest in a remote part of France. The story is told mainly through voice-over from a journal that we occasionally see Truffau writing and is supposedly based on true events that took place in the ninteenth centuary.It is a beautifully observed film with understated and realistic performances from everyone involved in particular Jean-Pierre Cargol in the title roll as the boy who has lived in the forrest and become detached from society.The strange thing about this film is it looks a lot older than it's 1969 production date and it is also strange that after two colour films Truffau went back to monochrome for this movie.Truffau's doctor seems to be torn between emotional involvment with the child he eventually calls "Victor" and regarding his charge as a sociological experiment and that dilemma is at the heart of the film and is never really resolved even though his treatment of victor sometimes seems to owe more to Dr. Benjamin Spok than to ninteenth centuary child care techniques. Also when Victor is first examined by the doctor he comes to the conclusion that someone has at sometime tried to cut his throat but the doctor never tries to find out the identity of the attempted murderer or indeed the true identity of Victor himself. These aren't realy criticisms of the film so much as observations on how the film is presented although one thing that I would have welcomed would have been to have the voice- over in English as it is in the English versions of some of his other films; I find that having to read subtitles for both the dialoge and the voice-over is sometimes a bit waring and detracts from the excellent photography in this film.In conclusion I feel this wonderful film is a neglected classic and I'm suprised that Hollywood hasn't remade it as it is such a great story."
Deserves to be Discovered
Westley | Stuck in my head | 07/10/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
""The Wild Child" was directed by Francois Truffaut and released in 1970. Truffaut has made some extraordinary movies, such as the Antoine Doinel series and "Jules et Jim." Unfortunately, this movie is given relatively little recognition, even though it truly is first-rate. Based on a true story, the movie concerns Victor, l'enfant sauvage - a boy found in the wilds of France. Truffaut cast himself as Dr. Jean Itard an 18th century physician who helps "tame" and educate the boy. Initially branded an "idiot" and uneducable by local townspeople, Victor is helped immensely by Dr. Itard through his humane treatment. The story is fascinating and quite gripping. In addition, the movie raises interesting questions regarding "civilized" behavior and ethics, as it compares Victor to various people in the town. Although similar stories has been told elsewhere (e.g., Herzog's "Every Man for Himself"), Truffaut manages to put his own interesting spin on the tale. Further, his direction is masterful, and he won Best Director from the National Board of Review. The film was made in black and white, which adds great realism to the story - it looks terrific (It won Best Cinematography from the National Society of Film Critics). The only debit is the lack of DVD extras."
(4 out of 5 stars)
"There may be another Francois Truffaut film about a boy coping with traumatic surroundings - 1959's "The 400 Blows" - which is far better known (and arguably his greatest), but an equally personal, affecting work is the film made 10 years later, "The Wild Child". Based on a true case of the late 1700's, it examines a doctor's attempts to educate a 10 year old mute boy found living among the elements in a French forest. Having been abandoned by his parents since infancy, the child must learn to adapt to civilized society and, through his efforts, forms a bond with the caring doctor. The film's fittingly archaic tone is actualized by the grainy black and white photography. Truffaut (in one of his few starring film roles) is natural as the resolute doctor; his earnest curiosity is appealing. Jean-Pierre Cargol, in the titular part, is particularly impressive; In what superficially appears to be a simple role (maladroit, non-human movements, dialogue basically limited to high-pitched grunts), his unmannered presence imbues the film with a near-documentarian authenticity. Another gratifying personal film from a leading director of the French New Wave."
My Favorite Francois Truffault's Film
Galina | Virginia, USA | 04/15/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
Provocative, engaging, and moving, this movie is an absolute wonder - elegant, artful, with breathtaking use of Vivaldi's music, with amazing performance form Jeanne-Pierre Cargol as a Wild Child of the title, the young boy who was found living in the forest outside a village in 1790th France. Based on the book of the physician Itard (played by Francois Truffault) who took the boy in and tried to teach him how to live among humans. The contrast between the narrator's (Itard's) passionless voice and his growing emotional attachment to the boy is heartbreaking.
"The Wild Child" is my favorite Truffault's film - I think it is much stronger than his more popular "400 Blows". Highly recommended