A new Google doodle has been launched today, marking the 80th birthday of one of the 20th century’s greatest film-makers. Francois Truffaut, who died in 1984 aged just 52, was a key figure of the French New Wave of the 1960s and has influenced a number of others, most notably Martin Scorsese.
After meeting film critic and theorist Andre Bazin, Francois Truffaut went to work at the Cahiers du Cinema magazine. It was from the staff at Cahiers du Cinema that some of the key French New Wave figures, such as Truffaut, Eric Rohmer and Jean-Luc Godard, eventually emerged. Disparaging much of what had gone before them in French cinema and embracing the auteurs of America such as Nicholas Ray and Alfred Hitchcock, these directors defined not only French cinema of the second half of the 20th century but also, arguably, much of US and European cinema as well.
Truffaut’s first film as director, 1959’s Les Quatre Cent Coups (The 400 Blows) remains one of the greatest French films of all time. Although he had to work with a very low budget, Truffaut showed evidence of great stylistic innovation, the freeze-frame ending of Les Quatre Cent Coups becoming an iconic image (and one that is linked to the Google doodle). For US audiences, Truffaut is perhaps best known for his acting role as scientist Claude Lacombe in Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind.