Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Bertrand Tavernier's stories 1993

Continues from: Timeline

Transcribed from the subtitles François Truffaut : portraits volés / un film de Serge Toubiana et Michel Pascal

One day I was alone with Bost working on The Watchmaker of St. Paul. I mentioned the article and asked if what Henri Jeanson wrote in his memoirs was true. That Truffaut had visited Bost, praised him to the skies and borrowed some of his papers including the script of Diary of a Country Priest which Aurenche was due to shoot as his directorial debut. It was only the first draft. Aurenche and Bost weren’t happy with it yet. Bost didn’t want to lend it to him but Truffaut talked him into it. All these documents, all these gifts and praises, resulted in that article. Truffaut wrote to Bost soon afterwards. He showed me the letter. Dear Pierre Bost, "My article probably surprised you. I didn’t mean all I said in it but I’m a young journalist with a career to make so I have to be outspoken even if it is unfair. I’ve always greatly admired you and your writing. I’m out to get Aurenche."

from Projections : a Forum for Filmmakers issue no. 2 -- I Wake up Dreaming (1993)

I meet Serge Toubiana and Michel Pascal who are working on a documentary on Truffaut, with whom I had a long and passionate relations. When he was a critic on Arts magazine I read him faithfully and even wrote to him a few times, particularly when he ripped The Searchers to pieces. I can still remember three films that defended vigorously and which I have never managed to see: South Sea Sinner(H Bruce Humberstone), No Sad Songs for Me(Rudolph Mate), High Lonesome(Alan Le May).
Truffaut even invited me to watch him shoot Les Quatres cents coups which I saw in its opening day at 2:00 P.M, as I did Tirez sur le pianiste, skipping classes in philosophy and law respectively. My first disappointment came with Jules and Jim (my opinion hasn't changed after seeing it recently); then, reading the memoirs of Henri Jeanson, I was shocked by what he really did to Jean Aurenche and Pierre Bost, after showering them with compliments. Bost confirmed the story when I was working on Clockmaker with him and Aurenche, and even showed me a letter from Truffaut that read: "You must have been surprised by the brutal tone of my article. You will understand that I am a young journalist, and to get myself noticed I have to adopt a polemical tone and not necessarily say what I think...I still have a great admiration for you. It's Aurenche I'm after."

If you have read and assimilated my timeline, you will realize that Tavernier :
A. has a fifteen year old François Truffaut ringing the door at the home of a stranger who happens to be a screenwriter and borrowing the first draft of a script which is being worked on and not returning it for six years;
B. has Jean Aurenche and Pierre Bost slaving on a screenplay that Aurenche plans to direct, all the while blithely unaware that five years earlier, the copyright holder of the novel that their script is based had, after reviewing their final script for this project, categorically refused them permission to adapt his novel and that, a year earlier, an adaptation of that novel filmed by Robert Bresson had been released to great acclaim.

Neither of Bertand Tavernier's stories work within the schema of the timeline that I have set up.

Continues on: Henri Jeanson's story