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"Jules et Jim" still shines

Posted at 11:17 AM on July 12, 2006 by Euan Kerr

I just watched Francois Truffaut's early masterpiece "Jules et Jim" and what a treat it is.

Made in 1962 it's the story of two men who are best friends and also in love with the same idiosyncratic woman, Catherine. Truffaut adapted the story from a novel by Henri-Pierre Roché which he found in a second-hand bookstall.

The story is deceptively simple, but is awash in significant undercurrents. Jules is a francophile Austrian, Jim is French. They are fast friends before Catherine (Jeanne Moreau) turns up. Jules falls for Catherine first, and marries her. Before the men find themselves rivals in love, world politics intervenes in the shape of World War I, and both serve their countries in the trenches, each deeply worried he may hurt or kill his friend by accident.

After the war they reunite, and things get complicated as Catherine falls for Jim.

This is a very low key story about the sometimes quicksilver nature of love, and the implications of love and desire. I look forward to seeing it again, maybe 10 years from now, to see if time changes perception.

The Criterion release of the DVD includes interviews with family members of the three people Roché on whom based his story (which included himself.) It's a thought-provoking window into a very different world.

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