7 July 2008
One of the most extraordinary feature debuts in the history of cinema, Maurice Pialat's L'Enfance-nue (Naked-Childhood) provides a perspective on growing-up that rejects both sentimentality and modish cynicism. Its unflinching but also warmly accommodating outlook on childhood attracted François Truffaut to take on the role as co-producer of Pialat's film, which, ironically, exists as much as a response to Truffaut's own debut Les Quatre cents coups (The 400 Blows, 1959) as that film was to the 'cinema of childhood' that came before the New Wave.
First-time actor Michel Tarrazon plays the young François, a provincial orphan whose destructive behaviour precipitates his relocation from the home of a long-term foster family to the care of a benevolent elderly couple. In the course of this transition, Pialat's film presents the turbulence of François's unmoored existence, and his explosive reactions to the contradictory emotions it engenders. This is the naked portrait of a soul's – and an entire society's – dysfunction, before the moment of reconciliation.
L'Enfance-nue represents an ideal introduction to the films of Maurice Pialat, an artist whose work resides alongside that of Jean Eustache and Philippe Garrel at the summit of the post-New Wave French cinema. His films feature a raw and complicated emotional core which, as in the films of John Cassavetes, reveals upon closer examination a remarkably rigorous visual aesthetic, and a facility of direction which lifts both seasoned actors and debut amateurs to the level of greatness. Coupled here with Pialat's poetic and brilliant early short L'Amour existe (Love Exists, 1960), L'Enfance-nue is the first masterpiece of an artist whose work has had an incalculable influence on contemporary directors as diverse as Bruno Dumont, Olivier Assayas, Michael Haneke, and the Dardenne brothers, among others, and whose 2003 passing led Gilles Jacob, president of the Festival de Cannes, to declare: "Pialat is dead and we are all orphaned. French cinema is orphaned."
L'Enfance-neu will be released on UK DVD as a 2-disc Special Edition on 22nd September 2008 by Eureka! under the Masters of Cinema banner at the RRP of £22.99. The following special features have been confirmed:
- New anamorphic transfer of the film in its original 1.66:1 aspect ratio;
- New and improved English subtitle translations;
- L'Amour existe (Love Exists, 1960) – Maurice Pialat's poetic 19-minute film about life in the Paris banlieues;
- 2003 video interview with co-screenwriter Arlette Langmann, conducted by former Cahiers du cinéma editor-in-chief, and current director of the Cinémathèque Française, Serge Toubiana;
- 32-minute 1973 interview with Maurice Pialat, from the programme Champ contre-champ;
- Chose vues autour de L'Enfance Nue (Things Seen Around L'Enfance Neu, 1969) – 50-minute documentary by Roger Stéphane shot in the course of L'Enfance-nue's production, examining Pialat's film-in-progress and the plight of foster children;
- 2005 video interview with Michel Tarrazon, the star of L'Enfance-nue;
- The film's original trailer, along with trailers for other Maurice Pialat films to be released by The Masters of Cinema Series;
- 40-page booklet containing a new essay by critic and filmmaker Kent Jones, and newly translated interviews with Maurice Pialat.