Quick Film Guide – The Wild Child (Francois Truffaut, 1970)

L’Enfant Sauvage
Directed by Francois Truffaut

The Wild Child fits well into the category of Francois Truffaut’s “vanity projects.” The aim of this particular one was to promote discussion about children’s rights – a topic he remained passionate about throughout his whole life.

The film takes place at the turn of the 20th century and is based on the true events regarding child Victor of Aveyron, who grew in the wild, as reported in the journals of physician Jean Marc Gaspard Itard. Truffaut himself decided to play the role of the latter so that he could control the child actor’s performance (which could easily have gotten out of hand) without the need of another actor as intermediary.

As it turns out, nothing in The Wild Child is overstated. Even the melodrama is subtle, though present and meaningful. This is possibly as close as Truffaut would ever get to documentary filmmaking, and a testimony to the French filmmaker’s confidence in versatility. Furthermore, whether directly or indirectly, the use of silent film techniques and black and white photography expresses his desire to remain independent from the mainstream.

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