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Jules and Jim

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Jules and Jim
Theatrical release poster by Christian Broutin
FrenchJules et Jim
Directed byFrançois Truffaut
Screenplay byFrançois Truffaut
Jean Gruault
Based onJules et Jim
1953 novel
by Henri-Pierre Roché
Produced byMarcel Berbert
François Truffaut
StarringJeanne Moreau
Oskar Werner
Henri Serre
CinematographyRaoul Coutard
Edited byClaudine Bouché
Music byGeorges Delerue
  • Les Films du Carrosse
Distributed byCinédis
Release date
  • 23 January 1962 (1962-01-23) (France)
Running time
105 minutes
  • French
  • German
Box office1,595,379 admissions (France)[1]

Jules and Jim (French: Jules et Jim [ʒyl e dʒim]) is a 1962 French New Wave romantic drama film directed, produced and co-written by François Truffaut. Set before and after World War I, it describes a tragic love triangle involving French Bohemian Jim (Henri Serre), his shy Austrian friend Jules (Oskar Werner), and Jules's girlfriend and later wife Catherine (Jeanne Moreau).[2]

The film is based on Henri-Pierre Roché's 1953 semi-autobiographical novel describing his relationship with young writer Franz Hessel and Helen Grund, whom Hessel married.[3] Truffaut came across the book in the mid-1950s while browsing through some secondhand books at a shop along the Seine in Paris. He later befriended the elderly Roché, who had published his first novel at the age of 74. The author approved of the young director's interest in adapting his work to another medium.

The film won the 1962 Grand Prix of French film prizes, the Étoile de Cristal, and Jeanne Moreau won that year's prize for best actress. The film ranked 46 in Empire magazine's "The 100 Best Films Of World Cinema" in 2010.[4]


The film is set before, during, and after the Great War in several different parts of France, Austria, and Germany. Jules is a shy writer from Austria who forges a friendship with the more extroverted Frenchman Jim. They share an interest in the world of the arts and the Bohemian lifestyle. At a slide show, they become entranced with a bust of a goddess and her serene smile and travel to see the ancient statue on an island in the Adriatic Sea.

After encounters with several women, they meet the free-spirited, capricious Catherine, a doppelgänger for the statue with the serene smile. The three become inseparable. Although she begins a relationship with Jules, both men are affected by her presence and her attitude toward life. Jim continues to be involved with his girlfriend Gilberte, usually seeing her apart from the others. A few days before war is declared, Jules and Catherine move to Austria to get married. Both men serve during the war, on opposing sides; each fears throughout the conflict the potential for facing the other or learning that he might have killed his friend.

After the wartime separation, Jim visits, and later stays with, Jules and Catherine in their chalet in the Black Forest. Jules and Catherine by then have a young daughter, Sabine. Jules confides the tensions in their marriage. He tells Jim that Catherine torments and punishes him at times with numerous affairs, and she once left him and Sabine for six months.

She flirts with and attempts to seduce Jim, who has never forgotten her. Jules, fearful 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 three live happily with Sabine in the chalet, 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 she learns that she is pregnant. The reunion does not occur after Jules writes to tell Jim that Catherine suffered a miscarriage.

After a time, Jim runs into Jules in Paris. He learns that Jules and Catherine have returned to France. Catherine tries 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 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 damaged bridge into the river, killing herself and Jim. Jules is left to bury the ashes of his friends in the Père-Lachaise Cemetery columbarium; Catherine wanted her ashes to be scattered in the wind from a hilltop, but at the time it was not legal.[5]



French New Wave[edit]

Jeanne Moreau incarnates the style of the French New Wave actress. The critic Ginette Vincendeau 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."[7]


According to New York Times film critic Bosley Crowther, "the emotional content is largely carried in the musical score" by Georges Delerue, which he lauded as "a dominant element in the film".[8] The soundtrack was named as one of the "10 best soundtracks" by Time magazine in its "All Time 100 Movies" list.[9]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award ceremony Category Nominee Result
1963 BAFTA Best Film from Any Source Jules and Jim Nominated
Best Foreign Actress Jeanne Moreau Nominated
Bodil Awards Best European Film Jules and Jim Won
Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists Best Foreign Director François Truffaut Won
1962 Cahiers du cinéma Annual Top 10 List François Truffaut 2nd
Mar del Plata Film Festival Best Film François Truffaut Nominated
Best Director François Truffaut Won


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."[10]

The production of Jules et Jim was the subject of a documentary directed in 2009 by Thierry Tripod.[11]

Further reading[edit]

  • Truffaut, François; Fry, Nicholas (1968). Jules and Jim; a film. New York: Simon and Schuster. ISBN 978-0-671-20089-3.


  1. ^ Box Office information for Francois Truffaut films at Box Office Story
  2. ^ Bradshaw, Peter (2 February 2022). "Jules et Jim review – Truffaut's love triangle is a whirlwind masterpiece". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 June 2022.
  3. ^ "Stéphane Hessel, un homme engagé : 'J’ai toujours été du côté des dissidents'" Télérama (March 12, 2011). Retrieved March 17, 2011 (in French)
  4. ^ "The 100 Best Films Of World Cinema – 46. Jules and Jim". Empire.
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ Allen, Don. Finally Truffaut. New York: Beaufort Books. 1985. ISBN 0-8253-0335-4. OCLC 12613514. pp. 225-226.
  7. ^ Ginette Vincendeau, speaking on an edition of BBC Radio 3's Nightwaves series, hosted by Philip Dodd, March 2009.
  8. ^ Crowther, Bosley (24 April 1962). "Screen: 'Jules and Jim'". New York Times. Retrieved 6 June 2022.
  9. ^ "Jules et Jim". Time.com. 3 October 2011. Archived from the original on 12 March 2010. Retrieved 15 May 2017.
  10. ^ "50 (useless but) genius facts about Goodfellas". Shortlist. 11 February 2011. Retrieved 23 August 2012.
  11. ^ "Presentation of the documentary about the shooting of Jules and Jim on Eurochannel". Eurochannel.com. Retrieved 15 May 2017.

External links[edit]