Day For Night

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Francois Truffaut's Day For Night is a very self-reflexive film that takes the audience through the arduous process of making a film. Every detail, both good and bad, is featured in this film. The documentary-style approach follows a director (actually played by Truffaut), his crew, and his cast as they make a film entitled Je Vous Presente Pamela. The cast each speak about the characters they play on screen. In one of the many comical moments of the film, the producer is asked something about the film by the one of the mock documentary crew and he yells back "the producer should stay out of sight."

The film also successfully depicts the nonstop headache the director endures over the course of trying to make a film. First, the actors create more drama off the camera then they do on it. Alphonse takes it upon himself to fall in love with someone who obviously does not feel the same way. This on-set romance quickly deteriorates and turns Alphonse into a moron off-screen. His erratic behavior ultimately leads to him almost destroying the marriage of his co-star Julie, who is also a head-case. Before she even arrives on set, Julie's reputation precedes her. In her previous film, she walked off production due to a breakdown she had, which also led to her marriage of the doctor who treated her (who left a 20 year marriage and kids behind also). This little act of infidelity causes halts to the shooting of the film and ultimately unnecessary problems for the production. The veteran actress of the film, Severine, allows her alcoholism to effect her acting; even to the point of not being able to even read her lines when they are taped on the wall in front of her. Alexandre, another veteran actor who also had an affair with Severine years ago, ends up being killed in a car accident at the end of the film. These are the problems just caused by the cast of Pamela. If it sounds like a bad soap opera, it definitely plays out that way.

Truffaut also makes may references to Hollywood and other directors of the time including, Hitchcock, Godard, Rosalini, and Bresson. Alexandre, who plays the stereotypical handsome, suave older gentlemen, constantly tells stories of his old projects in Hollywood to anyone who will listen; usually an attractive woman tends to lend an ear. To those who may not be very familiar with the process of making a film, Day For Night successfully portrays all of the good and bad of filmmaking. For those who have more experience with film, the argument can be made that the film romanticizes the filmmaking process. In the end, with the exception of a death, the film was made successfully. Most know that is definitely not always the case in the real world.


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