François Truffaut and "le petit voisin"
Jérôme Tonnerre is one of the more successful screenwriters of the past two decades in France. He has worked with directors such as Yves Robert (“La Gloire de Mon Père“/“My Father‘s Glory“, “Le Château de ma Mère/ “My Mother‘s House“)“Claude Sautet (“Quelques Jours avec Moi“, “Un Coeur en Hiver“/ “A Heart in Winter“), Phillippe de Broca (“Les 1001 Nuits“, “Le Bossu”) , Jean-Paul Rappeneau (“Bon Voyage“), Patrice Leconte (“Confidences Trop Intimes“/“Intimate Strangers“), and Claude Lelouch (“Viva la Vie!”). In a memoir published in 1999, but as of yet not translated into English, “Le Petit Voisin”, he writes of the meeting that determined that his young fatherless boy would become a screenwriter.
“My name is Tonnerre, Jérôme, Christopher, Armand. I aver that on October 11, in 1974, at six o’clock in the evening, at the of fifteen years, I was born. I had dared to sound the buzzer chez François Truffaut.” (pages 15-16, Le Petit Voisin)
I would like here to share with any of those of you who are interested some of Tonnerre’s musings on some of the odd circumstances of Truffaut’s death. This is my translation from pages 148 to 150 of Jérôme Tonnerre’s “Le Petit Voisin”
“Sunday, October 21 1984, Rue Michel-Ange, After making love, the night. Mouth of darkness, the radio proffers, “The filmmaker François Truffaut died this afternoon in the American Hospital at Neuilly as a result of a tumor of the brain.
“A priest, Father Popeiluszko and a child, little Gregory, preceded him by a little. Still others are going to escort him.
“Pierre Kast, a companion of the New Wave, had died on the evening of Saturday October 20, on board an airplane that was repatriating him on an emergency from Rome. He was preparing an adaptation of “L’Herbe Rouge” to star Jean-Pierre Leaud. Oddly, Boris Vian [the author of the novel “L’Herbe Rouge“] had himself met death as he was playing a role in a Kast film, on June 23, 1959, during a showing of “J'irai cracher sur vos tombes” [based on another Vian novel] at Marbeuf, the theater where Truffaut in July 1946 had discovered “Citizen Kane”, the bestowing wellspring of a young man which determines his career as a cineaste.
“On Friday, October 19, attended by a nurse who had no idea who he was, Henri Michaux decided between “ways of being asleep” and “ways of being awake”. His family revealed the news only after his cremation. His adored wife had been burned alive.
“Two beings whom we admired can not know each other during their lives - no connections of my awareness except a poorly loved childhood, a distant mother - and find each associated with the other at the end.
“Libération“, on Monday October 22, on its front page headlines this rhyming couplet:
Michaux is dead
Truffaut is dead
“The list does not end there.
“That same day, Oskar Werner, the Jules of “Jules and Jim”, the Montag of “Fahrenheit” dies in Vienna. Death cultivates its humor, icily. As German speakers will appreciate, the fireman Montag was extinguished (s’est éteint) on a Monday.
“A cohort of premature deaths, all Carosse family, have since followed Truffaut. A veritable film crew: cinematographer Nestor Almendros, composer Georges Delerue, photographer Pierre Zucca, scenarist Bernard Revon, and the actors Delphine Seyrig and Charles Denner.
“Condemned to silence by sickness, the star of “L’Homme qui aimait les femmes”(“The Man Who Loved Women”) also passed on a Sunday. In hospitals, it is fact that more people die on this day.
“The title of Charles Williams novel - The Long Saturday Night - suggest a “serie noire” sleepless night . That of its film version - Vivement Dimanche! - [ though that film is known in English as “Confidentially Yours”, its actual translation would be, “I can’t wait for Sunday”] suggest an impatience for a Sunday repose, unless it be a case of “the big sleep”. In titling his last opus, Truffaut should have heeded [Jacques] Audiberti. He who admired so much Audiberti’s final book, that journal of his sickness, “Dimanche m’attend” (“Sunday awaits me”). “I keep my journal. It keeps me.” Inevitably, Audiberti died on a Sunday.”
Labels: "François Truffaut"