The Wild Child

The Wild Child

Infobox Film
name = The Wild Child

caption = Theatrical poster
director = François Truffaut
producer = Marcel Berbert
writer = Novel:
Jean Itard
François Truffaut
Jean Gruault
starring = Jean-Pierre Cargol François Truffaut Françoise Seigner Jean Dasté
music =
cinematography = Néstor Almendros
editing = Agnès Guillemot
distributor = United Artists
released = France:
February 26 1970 United States: September 9 1970
runtime = 83 minutes
country = France
language = French
amg_id = 1:54533
imdb_id = 0064285|

"The Wild Child" (French: "L'Enfant sauvage", released in the United Kingdom as "The Wild Boy") (1970) is a French film by director François Truffaut. [imdb title|id=0064285|title=The Wild Child.]


The film is set in the 18th century. A young boy (Jean-Pierre Cargol) is found in the forest near Aveyron. The child was discovered after living in the wild for the first serveral years of his life, so he is placed under the supervision of Dr. Jean Itard. Itard (François Truffaut) names the boy Victor and observes the child's attempt to survive in his new, unknown world.

There's a narrow margin between the civilized aspects of rough Parisian life and the brutal laws of life in nature. Victor finds a sort of equilibrium in the windows that mark the transition between the closed interiors and the world outside. Candles and mandoline airs also have an effect on him. But Victor gains his ability to have social relations by losing his capacity to live as a savage.


The screenwriter Jean Gruault and the director François Truffaut were inspired by the early nineteenth-century novel by Jean Marc Gaspard Itard, which was based on true events surrounding "The Wild Boy of Aveyron," as the novel was called.


* Jean-Pierre Cargol as Victor, l'enfant sauvage (the wild child)
* François Truffaut as Le Dr. Jean Itard
* Françoise Seigner as Madame Guerin
* Jean Dasté as Professor Philippe Pinel
* Annie Miller as Madame Lemeri
* Claude Miller as Monsieur Lemeri
* Paul Villé as Remy
* Nathan Miller as Baby Lemeri
* Mathieu Schiffman as Mathieu
* Jean Gruault as visitor at Institute
* Robert Cambourakis as countryman
* Gitt Magrini as countrywoman
* Jean-François Stévenin as countryman
* Laura Truffaut as girl at farm
* Eva Truffaut as girl at farm

Critical reception

Film critic Roger Ebert gave the film a positive review and discussed the film's theme is one of Truffaut's favorites. He wrote, "The story is essentially true, drawn from an actual case in 18th Century France, and Truffaut tells it simply and movingly. It becomes his most thoughtful statement on his favorite subject: The way young people grow up, explore themselves, and attempt to function creatively in the world...Truffaut places his personal touch on every frame of the film. He wrote it, directed it, and plays the doctor himself. It is an understated, compassionate performance, a perfect counterpoint to Jean-Pierre Cargol's ferocity and fear...So often movies keep our attention by flashy tricks and cheap melodrama; it is an intellectually cleansing experience to watch this intelligent and hopeful film." [ [ Ebert, Roger] . "Chicago Sun-Times," film review, October 16, 1970. Last accessed: December 30, 2007.]

The staff at "Variety" magazine also praised the drama, and wrote, "This is a lucid, penetrating detailing of a young doctor's attempt to civilize a retarded boy found living in the woods in Southern France in the 18th century. Though based on a true case [Jean Itard's "Memoire et Rapport sur Victor de L'Aveyron," published in 1806] , it eschews didactics and creates a poetic, touching and dignified relationship between the doctor and his savage charge...It progresses slowly but absorbingly. Truffaut underplays but exudes an interior tenderness and dedication. The boy is amazingly and intuitively well played by a tousled gypsy tyke named Jean-Pierre Cargol. Everybody connected with this unusual, off-beat film made in black-and-white rates kudos." [ [ "Variety"] . Film review, September 9, 1970. Last accessed: February 22, 2008.]


* National Board of Review: NBR Award, Best Director, François Truffaut; Best Foreign Language Film, France; 1971.
* National Society of Film Critics Awards, USA: NSFC Award, Best Cinematography, Néstor Almendros; 1971.
* French Syndicate of Cinema Critics: Critics Award, Best Film, François Truffaut; 1971.

* Laurel Awards, 3rd place (Motion Picture Exhibitor magazine): Golden Laurel, Best Foreign Film; 1971.


External links

* [ "The Wild Child"] review at "The New York Times" by Vincent Canby

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