Jules and Jim

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Jules and Jim
Jules et jim affiche.jpg
original film poster © Christian Broutin
Directed by François Truffaut
Produced by Marcel Berbert
François Truffaut
Written by François Truffaut
Jean Gruault
Based on Jules et Jim by Henri-Pierre Roché
Narrated by Michel Subor
Starring Jeanne Moreau
Oskar Werner
Henri Serre
Music by Georges Delerue
Boris Bassiak (song: Le Tourbillon)
Cinematography Raoul Coutard
Editing by Claudine Bouché
Studio Les Films du Carrosse/ SEDIF
Distributed by Cinédis
Janus Films
Release dates (France) January 23, 1962
(UK) May 17, 1962
(USA) May 1962
Running time 105 minutes
Country France
Language French

Jules and Jim (French: Jules et Jim, IPA: [ʒyl e dʒim]) is a 1962 French film directed by François Truffaut based on Henri-Pierre Roché's 1953 semi-autobiographical novel about his relationship with writer Franz Hessel and his wife, Helen Grund.[1]

Truffaut came across the book in the mid-1950s whilst browsing through some secondhand books in Paris and later befriended the elderly Roché. The author approved of the young director's attempt to translate his work to another medium.

The soundtrack by Georges Delerue was named as one of the "10 best soundtracks" by Time magazine in its "All Time 100 Movies" list.[2]

The film ranked 46 in Empire magazine's "The 100 Best Films Of World Cinema" in 2010.[3]


The film is set before, during and after the Great War in several different parts of France, Austria, and Germany. Jules (Oskar Werner) is a shy writer from Austria who forges a friendship with the more extroverted Jim (Henri Serre). They share an interest in the world of the arts and the Bohemian lifestyle. At a slide show early in the movie, they become entranced with a statue of a goddess and its serene smile.

After encounters with several women, they meet the free-spirited, capricious Catherine (Jeanne Moreau), a doppelgänger for the statue with the serene smile. Although she begins a relationship with Jules, both men are affected by her presence and her attitude toward life. A few days before the declaration of war, Jules and Catherine move to Austria to get married. Both men serve during the war; however, they serve on the opposing sides, and each fears throughout the conflict that he might have killed the other.

After the wartime separation, Jim visits, and later stays with, Jules and Catherine in their house in the Black Forest. Jules and Catherine have a little daughter, Sabine, but the marriage is not a happy one. Catherine torments and punishes Jules with numerous affairs, and he tells Jim that she once left Jules and their daughter for six months. She flirts with and attempts to seduce Jim, who has never forgotten her. Jules, desperate that Catherine might leave him forever, gives his blessing for Jim to marry Catherine so that he may continue to visit them and see her. For a while, the four of them live happily together in the same chalet in Austria, until tensions between Jim and Catherine arise because of their inability to have a child. Jim leaves Catherine and returns to Paris. After several exchanges of letters between Catherine and Jim, they resolve to reunite when it is discovered that Catherine is indeed with child after all. However, the reunion does not occur after Jules writes to inform Jim that his and Catherine's unborn baby has miscarried.

After a time, Jim runs into Jules in Paris. He finds that Jules and Catherine have returned to France. Catherine attempts to win Jim back, but he rebuffs her, saying he is going to marry Gilberte. Furious, she pulls a gun on him, but he wrestles it away and flees. He later encounters Jules and Catherine in a famous (at that time) movie theater, the Studio des Ursulines.

The three of them stop at an outdoor cafe. Catherine asks Jim to get into her car, saying she has something to tell him. She asks Jules to watch them and drives the car off a broken bridge, killing herself and Jim. Jules is left to deal with the ashes of his friends.[4]



One of the seminal products of the French New Wave, Jules and Jim is an inventive encyclopedia of the language of cinema that incorporates newsreel footage, photographic stills, freeze frames, panning shots, wipes, masking, dolly shots, and voiceover narration (by Michel Subor). Truffaut's cinematographer was Raoul Coutard, a frequent collaborator with Jean-Luc Godard, who employed the latest lightweight cameras to create an extremely fluid film style. For example, some of the postwar scenes were shot using cameras mounted on bicycles. The evocative musical score is by Georges Delerue. One song, "Le Tourbillon" ("The Whirlwind") by Bassiak, which sums up the turbulence of the lives of the three main characters, became a popular hit. See Le tourbillon de la vie sung by Jeanne Moreau, on ina.fr.
The dialogue is predominantly in French, with occasional lines in German and one line in English.

Jeanne Moreau incarnates the style of the French New Wave actress. The critic Ginette Vincindeau has defined this as, "beautiful, but in a kind of natural way; sexy, but intellectual at the same time, a kind of cerebral sexuality, — this was the hallmark of the nouvelle vague woman." Though she isn't in the film's title, Catherine is "the structuring absence. She reconciles two completely opposed ideas of femininity".[6]


In film[edit]

  • Is referenced in Amélie (2001) during the description of her character as well as in the format of the storytelling of the film.
  • According to ShortList, "The pacy energy of Goodfellas (1990) was influenced by Scorsese’s love of French New Wave cinema, especially François Truffaut’s doomed love triangle classic Jules et Jim. He wanted a similar voiceover to open, along with extensive narration, quick cuts and freeze frame shots. He called it a “punk attitude” towards film convention, mirroring the attitude of the gangsters in the film."[7]
  • In the Wes Anderson film The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004), Steve states, "Not this one, Klaus," when speaking of a prospective love interest. This is a reference to Jules' line, "Pas celle-là, Jim" ("Not this one, Jim"), when speaking of Catherine.
  • Is referenced (by content - not by name) in Threesome (1994) by the protagonist Eddy, during his inner monologue describing the situation with his roommates.
  • Jules and Jim is heavily referenced in Cameron Crowe's Vanilla Sky (2001). The final montage includes a clip featuring Jeanne Moreau; a poster for the film is displayed in the main character's bedroom; two best friends fall in love for the same woman – who leaves the insecure one for the passionate one – causing friction between them, and a climactic scene involves a woman's driving her car off a bridge with her lover.

In music[edit]

In television[edit]

  • In the tenth episode of Awkward's season 2, the film is used as a reference to Jenna Hamilton's relationship with friends Matty and Jake, both of whom also watched the film for a class; seeing their situation from a different perspective convinces the two friends to talk.
  • In a season five episode of Beverly Hills, 90210, Dylan writes a screenplay with a friend he met in rehab. The friend transforms it from a psychological thriller to a porno film by writing a scene containing a threesome. Valerie comes to speak to them and they reference Jules and Jim while discussing the scene's meaning. Then Dylan and his friend rent Jules and Jim to watch and see what it is about. However, Valerie cannot make it, and Dylan's friend is upset because he was hoping the three of them could have had a threesome, much to Dylan's shock and disgust. Dylan and his friend watch the film anyway, as Dylan instructs that there will be no more talk of their having a threesome.
  • Episode 3.5 of Northern Exposure is named "Jules et Joel".
  • In Portlandia's season 3 episode "Alexandra", Fred and Carrie reference New Wave cinema as they discuss their roommate. Both navigate a relationship with her before the three embark on a day trip of frolicking and bike riding heavily reminiscent of iconic scenes from "Jules et Jim".

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Truffaut, François and Fry, Nicholas (translator) (1968). Jules and Jim; a film. New York: Simon and Schuster. ISBN 9780671200893. 


  1. ^ "Stéphane Hessel, un homme engagé : 'J’ai toujours été du côté des dissidents'" Télérama (March 12, 2011). Retrieved March 17, 2011 (French)
  2. ^ Jules et Jim
  3. ^ "The 100 Best Films Of World Cinema – 46. Jules and Jim". Empire. 
  4. ^ Fry, Nicholas (translator). Truffaut, François and Gruault, Jean (script). Jules and Jim, a film by François Truffaut. New York: Simon and Schuster. 1968. 68-27592. pp. 11-100.
  5. ^ Allen, Don. Finally Truffaut. New York: Beaufort Books. 1985. ISBN 0-8253-0335-5. pp. 225-226.
  6. ^ Ginette Vincindeau, speaking on an edition of BBC Radio 3's Nightwaves series, hosted by Philip Dodd , March 2009.
  7. ^ "50 (useless but) genius facts about Goodfellas". Shortlist. Retrieved 23 August 2012. 

External links[edit]