The Wild Child

This is one of Francois Truffaut’s best middle-period films (1969), albeit one of his darkest and most conservative. Filmed in black and white by the gifted Nestor Almendros, it’s based on the true story of a nine-year-old boy (Jean-Pierre Cargol) found living in the wilderness and educated by a young physician (played by Truffaut himself). There are certain parallels here with Arthur Penn’s The Miracle Worker, about the civilizing of Helen Keller, but Truffaut’s message is more pessimistic than inspirational; it suggests that the joys of primitivism are incompatible with the achievement of culture. (JR)

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