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SHOOT THE PIANO PLAYER
1960 - Francois Truffaut
France
72
Opening Shot

The films opening title sequence features a closeup shot of the insides of a working piano which is very much reflective of the film and of Francois Truffaut's and the French New Wave style, which takes us into the filmmaking just as much as we are taken into the film itself.

The Film

Released during the French New Wave era, Francois Truffaut's Shoot The Piano Player is sort of a homage to the Hollywood gangster film. It's also a very experimental film which contains a very fast pace mix of film noir, slapstick comedy, romance, and even a bit musicals and westerns. The tone is ever changing, often within seconds. The plot is not all that complex as the film relies more on technical aspects such as jump cuts, hand-held cameras, and split screens. Shoot the Piano Player takes us into a unique world of storytelling and filmmaking in the way it is consistently shifting, always remaining self-conscious of filmmaking. Also despite the "experiments" and seeming improvisations, the film still has a specific structure and alot of charm and laughs, thanks to the masterful abilities of Truffaut, and excellent acting by all (especially by leading man Charles Aznavour). Above all the film stands by the definitive New Wave and Truffaut thought that films are more about other films then then are about reality. Basically it's funny, touching, thoughtful, and probably my favorite Truffaut film. It's quintessential New Wave: original, stylistic, self-conscious, and all out fun celebration of cinema's joy! I just love the feeling I get watching Shoot The Piano Player. It's pure cinematic bliss!! My love for this film leaves me speechless.

The Filmmaker

One of the earliest and key innovators of the French New Wave movement, Francois Truffaut simply was one of the icon symbols of cinema. In fact, what Truffaut represents may even surpass what he is as a filmmaker. Truffaut is a symbolic representation of cinema. Truffaut began as a film critic under the legendary theorist Andre Bazin. He is completely self-taught and learned filmmaking simply by watching and loving films from all over the world. He broke into filmmaking with his 1959 debut masterpiece The 400 Blows which instantly earned world-wide acclaim and is often considered the pivotal film of the French New Wave (along with Jean-Luc Godard's Breathless which Truffaut co-wrote). The 400 Blows is a semi-autobiography for Truffaut (who would later make a total of four more feature films over the next twenty years with the lead character Antoine Doinel representing his alter-ego). The 400 Blows as well as Truffaut's third feature Jules and Jim are often praised as his greatest and most beloved masterpieces. Much like Orson Welles, Truffaut struggled to live up to his early work, and while his earliest work may stand as his best, Truffaut would continue to make a variety of great films throughout his career. Truffaut was a master stylist who would use his passion for filmmaking and his inventive techniques to create cinematic worlds that focused on character and theme. At the center of his themes is an isolation of human existence and longing: for connection and communication. His characters are often inexperienced, hesitant, unaccepted individuals whose choices ultimately result in obsession and a doomed fate. Truffaut would capture these themes with a vast cinematic style that included voice-over narration, as well as unusual editing, camera movement and framing. Above all however, Truffaut is one of cinemas great humanist filmmakers. He is also one of the very best at directing young children (alongside Yasujiro Ozu, Abbas Kiarostami, and Steven Spielberg to name a few) and it is this ability that often heightened the overall compassion of his work (without being preachy). Truffaut is a legendary figure in film history for more then just his wonderful films and influential techniques. Truffaut represents cinema, and his passion should be embraced and respected by anyone who loves films.

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