François Truffaut

François Truffaut

The Lost Secret
Anne Gillain, translated by Alistair Fox
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 06/07/2013
Format: Hardback 40 b&w illus.
ISBN: 978-0-253-00834-3
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For François Truffaut, the lost secret of cinematic art is in the ability to generate emotion and reveal repressed fantasies through cinematic representation. Available in English for the first time, Anne Gillain's François Truffaut: The Lost Secret is considered by many to be the best book on the interpretation of Truffaut's films. Taking a psycho-biographical approach, Gillain shows how Truffaut's creative impulse was anchored in his personal experience of a traumatic childhood that left him lonely and emotionally deprived. In a series of brilliant, nuanced readings of each of his films, she demonstrates how involuntary memories arising from Truffaut's childhood not only furnish a succession of motifs that are repeated from film to film, but also govern every aspect of his mise en scène and cinematic technique.

Author Bio

Anne Gillain is Professor Emerita at Wellesley College and is known for her work in French cinema, particularly the films of François Truffaut. She is author of Le Cinéma selon François Truffaut and The 400 Blows.

Alistair Fox is Professor of English and Director of the Centre for Research on National Identity at the University of Otago. He is author of Jane Campion: Authorship and Personal Cinema (IUP, 2011).


“Considered by many to be the best book on the interpretation of Truffaut's films, this French translation shows how Truffaut's creative impulse was anchored in his personal experience of a traumatic childhood that left him lonely and emotionally deprived.”

“Long a major work within French film and the cinema of François Truffaut, Anne Gillain’s volume provides an important perspective on Truffaut and his films that is still quite relevant for historians and theorists today. Most importantly, Alistair Fox’s meticulous and lively translation is nothing short of amazing. Everyone working seriously on Truffaut and his legacy must refer to and engage with Gillain’s arguments, so it is wonderful finally to see her book available in English, and especially in such a fine a translation.”
 — Richard Neupert, author of A History of the French New Wave Cinema

“You’ll find no better critical study of Truffaut than this one by Anne Gillain. Her chapters ingeniously pair films to expose the secret that informs them all. We peer through these chapters as through a series of stereoscopic slides and find 'la Planète Truffaut' lying before us in vivid 3-D.”
 — Dudley Andrew, R. Seldon Rose Professor of Film and Comparative Literature, Yale University

“In addition to its trenchant anatomizing of Truffaut, this work is an excellent examination of the process of creation. . . . Highly recommended.”
 — Choice

“Truffaut fans will love this English translation of Gillain’s work drawing on the psychology and cinematography of the acclaimed filmmaker.”
 — Booklist

“Gillain's preface is succinct, lucid and illuminating.”
 — Spectator

“In her brilliant book, François Truffaut: The Lost Secret . . . Gillain serves us with a delicious reexamination of someone’s work that will make us want to sit down and take in all of Truffaut’s wonderful filmography at once.”
 — PopMatters

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Table of Contents

Preface to the English Edition of François Truffaut: The Lost Secret. Anne Gillain
Emotion and the Authorial Fantasmatic: An Introduction to Anne Gillain’s François Truffaut: The Lost Secret. Alistair Fox
Preface to the Original French Edition. One Secret Can Hide Another. Jean Gruault
Introduction: The Secret of the Art
1. Family Secrets: The 400 Blows (1959), The Woman Next Door (1981)
2. Deceptions: Shoot the Piano Player (1960), The Soft Skin (1964)
3. Queen-Women: Jules and Jim (1962), The Last Metro (1980)
4. Sentimental Educations: Stolen Kisses (1968), Two English Girls (1971)
5. Criminal Women: The Bride Wore Black (1967), A Gorgeous Girl Like Me (1972)
6. In Search of the Father: Fahrenheit 451 (1966), Day for Night (1973)
7. Marriages: Mississippi Mermaid (1969), Bed and Board (1970)
8. Words and Things: The Wild Child (1970), The Story of Adèle H. (1975)
9. The Child King: Small Change (1976), Love on the Run (1979)
10. Fetishism and Mourning: The Man Who Loved Women (1977), The Green Room (1978)
11. The Role of Play: Confidentially Yours (1983)
Conclusion: The Art of the Secret