Monday, August 23, 2010

#17. Day For Night (1973)

DVD Synopsis: The leading lady is recovering from a nervous breakdown, another performer is soused on the set, unions threaten to walk, shooting must somehow finish before the insurance lapses and a cat needed for a scene can't hit its mark. Is this any way to make a film? Mais Oui!

If you love movies, then Francois Truffaut’s Day for Night is a must-see. For one, the film provides a behind-the-scenes look at life on a movie set, and the lengths to which a filmmaker will go to ensure everything is just right (at one point, the director, played by Truffaut himself, authorizes the theft of a vase from their hotel’s lobby because it’ll look perfect in the dining room scene).   But more than this, Day for Night is, at its heart, a respectful homage to the art of making movies. 

In a wonderful flashback segment, the director, as a young boy, is shown stealing a handful of still photos from the classic film Citizen Kane, which were on display at his neighborhood movie house. To most people, such a theft would seem like little more than a precocious kid stirring up trouble. For the boy, these stills signified his passion, his strong desire to possess a piece of something that had touched him deeply. Movies were undoubtedly Truffaut’s passion, and Day for Night stands as his testament to that obsession. 

How fitting that this love letter to the cinema, so wonderfully realized, would be regarded a classic in its own right.


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