Thought’s on Truffaut’s “La Nuit Americaine”

One thing that I noticed while watching Traffaut’s film “La Nuit Americaine” was the different shoot techniques the director employed in order to create a noticeable distinction between the film and “real life”. This technique is especially evident in the first scene in which there is a tracking shot that follows several characters while a score plays in the background. Here the camera tracks characters as they walk through the streets until it stops and focuses on Alphonse and Alexandre and once this scene ends the camera shot ceases to be mobile and instead is stationary. Here Traffaut makes a distinction between film and real life by shooting the “Meet Pamela” scenes in a cinematic and mobile way to make them appear less realistic and more contrived. Then once the Meet Pamela shooting scene is done Truffaut switches his shots to static shots that are realistic in nature to make it seem as though the “behind the scene shots” are real life. This shooting style helps Truffaut to successfully create a distinction between the film world and real world within his film, and in doing so he creates a film that both celebrates and criticizes the film making process.

Another thought I had while watching the film was it shared a lot of similarities with Fellini’s film “8 1/2”.  Much like “La Nuit Americaine” Fellini’s “8 1/2”  focuses on the life of a struggling director as he attempts to make a film in hectic circumstances. One scene from “La Nuit Americaine” that was particularly reminiscent of  “8 1/2” was Ferrand’s dream sequence in which he sees himself as a child stealing Citizen Kane posters from the front of a movie theater. This childhood flashback scene establishes that film is Ferand’s one true love and shows the audience that his passion for the medium dates all the way back to his childhood, which helps the viewer to understand why he is so intent on making a successful production. Fellini’s film “8 1/2” features a similar scene in which the director has a flashback to his childhood and he remembers the time when him and his siblings jumped on the bed and chanted “asa nisi masa”, a made up phrase that they yelled to bring the eyes of a painting on their wall to life. In both of these scenes the directors use childhood flashbacks to show the inner most desires of the protagonists and in doing so they reveal a great deal about each main character’s past, which helps the viewer to better understand how these men have become so tormented.





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