Release date(France) January 23, 1962
(UK) May 17, 1962
(USA) May 1962 Based onJules et Jim by Henri-Pierre Roche WriterHenri-Pierre Roche (novel), Francois Truffaut (adaptation), Jean Gruault (adaptation) ScreenplayFrancois Truffaut, Jean Gruault CastJeanne Moreau (Catherine), Oskar Werner (Jules), Henri Serre (Jim), Marie Dubois (Thérèse), Sabine Haudepin (Sabine), Vanna Urbino (Gilberte) Similar moviesJamon Jamon, Zandalee, Notes on a Scandal, The French Lieutenant's Woman, Toy Story, Dial M for Murder
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Jules and Jim (French: Jules et Jim, [ʒyl e dʒim]) is a 1962 French romantic drama film, directed, produced and written by François Truffaut. Set around the time of 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).
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. Truffaut came across the book in the mid-1950s whilst browsing through some secondhand books at a shop along the Seine in Paris. Later he befriended the elderly Roché, who had published his first novel at the age of 74. The author approved of the young director's interest to adapt 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. The soundtrack by Georges Delerue was named as one of the "10 best soundtracks" by Time magazine in its "All Time 100 Movies" list.
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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 Frenchman, Jim (Henri Serre). 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 (Jeanne Moreau), a doppelgänger for the statue with the serene smile. The three hang out together. 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 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 house 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, 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 three adults live happily with Sabine 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 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 (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 damaged bridge into the river, killing herself and Jim. Jules is left to deal with the ashes of his friends.
Jeanne Moreau as Catherine
Oskar Werner as Jules
Henri Serre as Jim
Vanna Urbino as Gilberte, Jim's fiancee
Serge Rezvani (credited under the name Boris Bassiak) as Albert, Catherine's sometime lover
Marie Dubois as Thérèse, Jules' ex-girlfriend
Sabine Haudepin as Sabine, Jules and Catherine's daughter
Kate Noëlle as Birgitta
Anny Nelsen as Lucy
Christiane Wagner as Helga
Jean-Louis Richard as a customer in cafe
Michel Varesano as a customer in cafe
Pierre Fabre as a drunk in the cafe
Danielle Bassiak as Albert's companion
Bernard Largemains as Merlin
Elen Bober as Mathilde
Dominique Lacarrière as a woman
Michel Subor as the Narrator (voice)
One of the seminal products of the French New Wave (Nouvelle Vague), Jules and Jim is an inventive encyclopedia of the language of cinema: Truffaut incorporated 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 Serge Rezvani, which sums up the turbulence of the lives of the three main characters, became a popular hit.
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."
Paul Mazursky's 1980 film, Willie & Phil, starring Margot Kidder, Michael Ontkean, and Ray Sharkey, is a direct homage to Jules and Jim."
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."
In Bob Ellis's 1992 film The Nostradamus Kid, Ken goes to see Jules and Jim with Jenny in Sydney in 1962.
It is referred to by content--not by name--in Threesome (1994) by the protagonist Eddy, during his inner monologue describing the situation with his roommates.
It is referenced in Amélie (2001) during the description of her character, as well as in the format of the storytelling of the film.
Jules and Jim is 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 with 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 the Wes Anderson film The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004), Steve says, "Not this one, Klaus," when speaking of a prospective love interest. This is a reference to Jules's line, "Pas celle-là, Jim" ("Not this one, Jim"), when speaking of Catherine.
The shooting of the movie was the subject of a documentary directed in 2009 by Thierry Tripod.
The Swedish band jj named itself after this movie.
The American alternative rock band Nada Surf has a track entitled "Jules and Jim" on its 2012 album The Stars Are Indifferent To Astronomy.
The original videoclip of the 1998 song "Kiss Me" by the American folk rock band Sixpence None the Richer is a tribute to this film and his director François Truffaut.
In Awkward's season 2, Episode 10, 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.
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 refer to Jules and Jim while discussing the scene's meaning. Then Dylan and his friend rent Jules and Jim to watch.
Episode 3.5 of Northern Exposure is named "Jules et Joel."
In Portlandia's season 3 episode "Alexandra," Fred and Carrie refer to 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 reminiscent of iconic scenes from "Jules et Jim."