“Léaud lives in extremes.” —François Truffaut

Jean-Pierre Léaud is to the French New Wave what Anna Magnani was to Italian neorealism and what John Wayne was to American westerns: its spirit, its emblem, its avatar. The actor, who last year received the Cannes Film Festival’s Honorary Palme d’Or in recognition of a career spanning nearly 60 years, first broke through as François Truffaut’s on-screen surrogate Antoine Doinel in 1959’s The 400 Blows, and he won Best Actor at the 1966 Berlin Film Festival for Jean-Luc Godard’s Masculin féminin. Since then he has worked with French masters Jacques Rivette, Jean Eustache, Philippe Garrel, and Olivier Assayas, all featured in this series, and such key international filmmakers as Tsai Ming-liang, Bernardo Bertolucci, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Aki Kaurismäki, and Raúl Ruiz.

Léaud delivers a magisterial, career-capping performance as the longest-reigning French monarch during his final days in Albert Serra’s The Death of Louis XIV (NYFF54). On the occasion of the film’s March 31 exclusive opening at the Film Society, join us in paying tribute to the legendary actor’s irresistible presence and undeniable legacy in an expansive, 20-film retrospective, presented almost entirely on 35mm. Jean-Pierre Léaud, from Antoine Doinel to Louis XIV, runs March 29–April 6 at the Film Society of Lincoln Center.

The Death of Louis XIV


Highlights of the series include an extremely rare screening of Philippe Garrel’s La Concentration, an intense psychosexual drama pairing Léaud with 60s icon Zouzou, rarely, if ever, seen in the U.S.; Luc Moullet’s western A Girl Is a Gun, starring Léaud as Billy the Kid; Rivette’s fascinating four-and-a-half-hour re-edit of Out 1, titled Out 1: Spectre; examples of the actor’s international work with Pier Paolo Pasolini (Porcile) and Jerzy Skolimowski (Le Départ); and key works by Truffaut, Godard, and more. A special daylong program highlighting Léaud’s most iconic role, Antoine Doinel, will take place on April 2, showcasing Truffaut’s phenomenal five-film cycle in chronological order as both the character and Léaud mature over a twenty-year span.

Tickets go on sale Thursday, March 16. See more and save with the 3+ film discount package or $125 All Access Pass!

Jean-Pierre Léaud, from Antoine Doinel to Louis XIV is organized by Florence Almozini and Dan Sullivan. Special thanks to Amelie Garin-Davet and Mathieu Fournet, Cultural Services of the French Embassy; Tomek Smolarski, Polish Cultural Institute NY; Camilla Cormanni and Marco Cicala, Luce Cinecittà; Philippe Garrel and Caroline Deruas; Luc Moullet; Royal Cinematheque of Belgium.

La Chinoise


Films & Descriptions
All films screen at the Walter Reade Theater unless otherwise noted.

The Antoine Doinel Films 

The 400 Blows / Les quatre cents coups
François Truffaut, France, 1959, 35mm, 99m
French with English subtitles
When film critic François Truffaut was challenged to put into practice what he’d been preaching, he chose to film the story of a 13-year-old wild child in Paris whose adventures were based on his own adolescence. Rejected or rebuffed by school, family, and community, young Antoine Doinel sets out on his own, propelled toward one of the most famous of all movie endings: the legendary snapshot of a childhood on the brink. The 400 Blows marked the birth of Léaud as crown prince of the French New Wave, and of François Truffaut as its runaway auteur.
Wednesday, March 29, 2:30pm
Sunday, April 2, 2:00pm

Antoine and Colette / Antoine et Colette
François Truffaut, France, 1962, 35mm, 32m
French with English subtitles
Truffaut returned to the life of Antoine Doinel three years after The 400 Blows in this short made for the omnibus film Love at Twenty, in which Antoine falls madly and obsessively in love with a music student (Marie-France Pisier), but spends the evening with her parents while she goes out on a date with another suitor.

Screens with
Stolen Kisses / Baisers volés
François Truffaut, France, 1968, 35mm, 90m
French with English subtitles
In this third chapter in the irrepressible Antoine Doinel’s cinematic life, Truffaut’s doppelgänger is dishonorably discharged from the army, tries out a number of odd jobs, and plays court to Christine, an old girlfriend (Claude Jade). With whimsical empathy, Truffaut shows an engaging young man slipping into adulthood, while celebrating the power of romantic love: Delphine Seyrig as the older, sophisticated beauty who fascinates Antoine is nothing less than superb, and—despite passing years—one never forgets the mysterious stranger who accosts Antoine and his fiancée in the park to declare his undying love for Christine.
Sunday, April 2, 4:00pm
Wednesday, April 5, 1:30pm

Bed & Board / Domicile conjugal
François Truffaut, France/Italy, 1970, 35mm, 100m
French with English subtitles
Truffaut’s alter ego Antoine Doinel further matures in this comedy about marital intimacy and infidelity, with he and Christine adrift in the matrimonial sloop, amid often stormy seas. Now a father, Antoine still can’t help falling for a lovely Japanese woman; his reunion with his family marks a real coming of age for the romantic boy we have grown so fond of. And for the first time, Antoine and Christine are part of and supported by a larger, delightfully idiosyncratic community. Bed & Board brims with delightful allusions to precious cinematic chapters in Antoine’s life.
Sunday, April 2, 6:30pm
Thursday, April 6, 2:30pm

The Mother and the Whore


Love on the Run / L’amour en fuite
François Truffaut, France, 1979, 35mm, 94m
French with English subtitles
Twenty years after the riveting freeze-frame that punctuated The 400 Blows and began the careers of Léaud and Truffaut, the director looks back with affectionate triste on the Antoine Doinel cycle. Antoine and Christine have separated, and he is seeing a new woman when Colette (Marie-France Pisier, reprising her role from Antoine and Colette) re-enters his life and encourages him to write a novel. At the last, the Doinel saga is suffused with bittersweet pain at the fragility of romantic love and the transience of relationships.
Sunday, April 2, 8:45pm
Thursday, April 6, 4:30pm

The Birth of Love / La naissance de l’amour
Philippe Garrel, France/Switzerland, 1993, 35mm, 94m
French with English subtitles
At age 45, Garrel made this film that focuses on the ecology of family life. Two young screen icons of a previous generation—Jean-Pierre Léaud and Lou Castel (Fists in the Pocket)—turn in vivid performances as men who may be mature in years, but are perhaps more than a little emotionally arrested. The late cinematographer Raoul Coutard, Godard’s longtime righthand cameraman, turns his illuminating eye on their very thoughts in this deeply moving investigation of love. Print courtesy of the Institut Français.
Thursday, March 30, 2:30pm
Wednesday, April 5, 7:00pm

La Chinoise
Jean-Luc Godard, France, 1967, 35mm, 96m
French with English subtitles
Naturally, the color red dominates Godard’s stunning political comedy about how five formidably innocent young people—“Robinson Crusoes with Marxism as their Man Friday”—spend their summer vacation. Espousing Brecht and donning a miscellany of costumes and accessories, Jean-Pierre Léaud plays Guillaume, an agitprop performer in a small group of students who passionately debate the impact of Mao’s cultural revolution and what chance terrorism might have in triggering comparable radicalization in the West. This cinematic cell of charismatic Reds is just part of La Chinoise’s dazzling lightshow of slogans, posters, and revolutionary images. Godard’s subtitle—“a film in the making”—was eerily prophetic, given the “children’s crusade” that hit the streets of Paris just a year later.
Saturday, April 1, 4:00pm

La Concentration
Philippe Garrel, France, 1968, 35mm, 90m
French with English subtitles
Philippe Garrel: “For La Concentration, I shut myself up with the camera in a room within which I built a little house, and I shut myself up there with a couple…a young man and a young woman, and we had a kind of exorcism—in front of the camera—of all that is in a couple.” The young man and woman in question are Jean-Pierre Léaud and ’60s icon Zouzou. Confined for 72 hours to a torture chamber–like apartment (one side sweltering, the other side freezing, with a bed in the middle), they enact an improvised psychodrama of sexual, psychic, and physical violence.
Thursday, March 30, 7:00pm

Out 1: Spectre


Day for Night / La nuit américaine
François Truffaut, France/Italy, 1973, 35mm, 115m
French with English subtitles
Truffaut’s joyous love letter to the art and craft of moviemaking stars the filmmaker himself as Ferrand, the director of a tawdry melodrama trying his best to keep the seemingly cursed production on track while off-screen dramas and romantic complications swirl around him. Jacqueline Bisset is the troubled Hollywood starlet recovering from a nervous breakdown, while Jean-Pierre Léaud is Alphonse, the impetuous leading man who just wants to know: are women magic? Ferrand’s relationship with Alphonse is especially poignant for the father-son relationship Truffaut and Léaud held in real life, made all the more touching when Ferrand confides, “People like you, like me, you know well, we are made to be happy in the work of cinema.”
Saturday, April 1, 8:15pm
Tuesday, April 4, 2:00pm

Le Départ
Jerzy Skolimowski, Belgium, 1967, 35mm, 93m
French with English subtitles
Jerzy Skolimowski’s first film outside Poland stars Jean-Pierre Léaud and Catherine Duport, both fresh from Masculin féminin (along with cameraman Willy Kurant). In Brussels, a hairdresser (Léaud) becomes obsessed with the idea of driving his boss’s Porsche in an upcoming rally. His comically frenzied attempts to turn this dream into reality make Le Départ a breathless romp, but they also mark a rite of passage into adulthood for the car-crazy hero. With its acid takes on materialism and solipsistic excess, Léaud’s energized physicality, and Krzysztof Komeda’s radical free jazz soundtrack, Le Départ teems with burlesque and poetic expression. Print courtesy of the Royal Cinematheque of Belgium.
Saturday, April 1, 2:00pm
Thursday, April 6, 8:30pm

Jean-Luc Godard, France, 1985, 35mm, 95m
French with English subtitles
“I’m a renaissance painter looking for commissions,” said Godard of this project, which began as a gleam in producer Alain Sarde’s eye: Paris, pulp fiction, Claude Brasseur, Nathalie Baye, Johnny Halliday, and an aging Jean-Pierre Léaud (in various disguises). After Godard and Anne-Marie Miéville finished adapting Sarde’s story, the stuff about gangsters, detectives, and bad debts became a backdrop for the relationship between Brasseur’s Emile and Baye’s Françoise. A fraught shoot, but it resulted in a lovely film with surprising bursts of passion. Print courtesy of the Institut Français.
Friday, March 31, 4:45pm
Monday, April 3, 6:30pm

A Girl Is a Gun / Une aventure de Billy le Kid
Luc Moullet, France, 1971, 35mm, 100m
Like a Hollywood B western directed by a French outsider artist, Luc Moullet’s psychotropic oater stars Jean-Pierre Léaud as Billy the Kid in a wild comic performance that’s equal parts Clint Eastwood and the Three Stooges. The fractured-beyond-recognition plot finds the bandit on the run from the law through a rocky desert wasteland with a seductive and possibly duplicitous woman (Rachel Kesterber) in tow. Set to a shivery, avant–cold wave soundtrack (complete with titular theme song), it all climaxes in a delirious Duel in the Sun-meets-acid-freak-out finale.
*Note that we are showing the English-dubbed version.

Screening with:
Santa Claus Has Blue Eyes / Le père Noël a les yeux bleus
Jean Eustache, France, 1966, 35mm, 53m
French with English subtitles
Eustache made his second film with 35mm black-and-white stock left over from Godard’s Masculin féminin, and he also used that film’s star, Jean-Pierre Léaud. But where Godard’s film is a snapshot of Parisian youths with time on their hands, Eustache’s is about a poor young man in the provinces, specifically the filmmaker’s hometown of Narbonne. Léaud’s performance is closely scaled and intimate, with Eustache emphasizing daily reality: how he spends his time, his efforts to meet girls, his attempts to make money. After his friend engages him to dress up as Santa Claus for the holiday season and have his pictures taken with passersby, Daniel is given a different vision of Narbonne and its inhabitants. Print courtesy of the Institut Français.
Tuesday, April 4, 6:30pm
Wednesday, April 5, 4:00pm

Irma Vep


Irma Vep
Olivier Assayas, France, 1996, 35mm, 99m
English and French with English subtitles
Olivier Assayas’s wildly inventive valentine to movies and moviemaking casts an aging Jean-Pierre Léaud as the unstable, hypersensitive New Wave director René Vidal, whose behavior wavers between that of a tormented old man and a capricious child as he struggles to make sense of his update of Louis Feuillade’s silent classic Les Vampires. Maggie Cheung plays the eponymous, latex-clad cat burglar at the center of the artistic maelstrom overseen by Vidal. A latter-day Day for Night that emphasizes the chaotic realities and strange, circus-like atmosphere of filmmaking over its romantic allure, Irma Vep is one of the great movies about what happens before “action” and after “cut.”
Thursday, March 30, 4:30pm
Wednesday, April 5, 9:00pm

Made in U.S.A
Jean-Luc Godard, France, 1966, 35mm, 90m
French with English subtitles
Jean-Pierre Léaud is featured as a slapstick tough guy named Donald Siegel in Godard’s harsh goodbye to ex-wife Anna Karina—a looney adaptation of Donald Westlake’s Richard Stark novel The Jugger, reshaped by the details of the Ben Barka affair. Seemingly composed almost intuitively, one Cinemascope canvas and close-up of Karina at a time, the film was made in the midst of a great burst of artistic energy and productivity: a little more than a week after he finished Made in U.S.A, Godard began shooting 2 or 3 Things I Know About Her.
Tuesday, April 4, 9:30pm
Thursday, April 6, 6:30pm

Masculin féminin
Jean-Luc Godard, France, 1966, 35mm, 103m
French with English subtitles
Godard’s freewheeling portrait of “the children of Marx and Coca-Cola”—a generation caught between capitalist pleasures and socialist ideals—stars Léaud as a young, self-styled radical-intellectual as he becomes involved in an on-again, off-again relationship with an aspiring yé-yé girl (Chantal Goya). The director depicts Paris as both a modern playland of arcades, discotheques, and pop music, and a simmering hotbed of political unrest and random acts of violence. Sporting short hair, wearing his traditional suit, and chain-smoking cigarettes, Jean-Pierre Léaud channels the turbulent atmosphere of the time as he delivers an impassioned monologue in a record-your-own-voice booth, whistles Bach in a café, and discusses the myriad synonyms for “buttocks” in bed.
Wednesday, March 29, 4:30pm
Saturday, April 1, 6:00pm

The Mother and the Whore / La maman et la putain
Jean Eustache, France, 1973, 35mm, 210m
French with English subtitles
Jean Eustache’s first international success uses an obsessive, talkative ménage à trois—Jean-Pierre Léaud, Bernadette Lafont, and Françoise Lebrun—as the jumping-off point for an intense exploration of sexual politics among liberated yet alienated moderns. The Mother and the Whore abounds with references and allusions to 15 years of New Wave images and language—the rich ground of movies about movies—while documenting the mix of strategies and fictions that lovers and other strangers use to make contract and to armor themselves. Léaud here finds one of his greatest, most intimate roles: of a man caught between laughter and depression, between two women, between two ages, who has learned everything about life (including how to make a bed) at the cinema. Print courtesy of the Institut Français.
Wednesday, March 29, 7:00pm
Monday, April 3, 2:30pm

Masculin féminin


Out 1: Spectre
Jacques Rivette, France, 1972, 253m
French with English subtitles
Jacques Rivette’s shortened re-edit of his 13-hour magnum opus, Out 1: Noli me tangere is less a condensed version of the original than a radical scrambling of it. The basic premise remains: Jean-Pierre Léaud and Juliet Berto are Parisian oddballs drawn into a sinister conspiracy involving two avant-garde theater troupes and an Illuminati-like secret society. But where its progenitor played out in slow-burn long takes, Spectre deploys intricate editing patterns to draw out tantalizing new meanings and connections. The result is both a fascinating companion piece and a singular work that stands on its own.
Friday, March 31, 7:00pm

Pier Paolo Pasolini, Italy/France, 1969, 35mm, 99m
Italian with English subtitles
Pasolini intertwines medieval and present-day stories about two young men ritually done in by their respective societies. Outlaw Pierre Clémenti is banished to a wasteland where he survives by turning happy cannibal, while Jean-Pierre Léaud, an ex–Nazi industrialist’s son, refuses to be groomed into normalcy, preferring pigs to his fiancée (Anne Wiazemsky). Clémenti’s period is observed in near silence, and Pasolini invests this primitive’s experiences with a serene beauty and poetry. Porcile’s shoot suffered from the language barrier between Léaud and Pasolini, which resulted in the filmmaker redubbing Léaud’s voice with another actor’s in postproduction. 35mm print from Istituto Luce Cinecittà.
Thursday, March 30, 9:00pm
Tuesday, April 4, 4:30pm

Two English Girls / Les deux Anglaises et le continent
François Truffaut, France, 1979, 35mm, 130m
French with English subtitles
Based on a novel by Jules and Jim author Henri-Pierre Roché, Two English Girls plays variations on the earlier film’s ménage à trois: here, a young writer (Jean-Pierre Léaud) falls in love with two beautiful sisters (Kika Markham and Sylvia Marriott) around the turn of the century. In this delicate and witty romance, all the principals so cherish each other that nothing but sacrifice can eventuate, and only the passionate contemplation of emotion remains. The desaturated color was meant to invoke early two-tone Technicolor, apt for a belle epoque love triangle.
Friday, March 31, 2:00pm
Monday, April 3, 8:30pm