The Review/Short Read/

One To Watch: Day For Night

One of the great love letters to the chaos and creativity, and the joy and sorrow of movie-making

Jul 7, 2016

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THE STORY: In this film-within-a-film classic, François Truffaut plays Ferrand, a tireless director making a melodrama called Meet Pamela. Slowly, and almost comically at times, the relationships between those working on the production descend into chaos. It's up to Ferrand to keep the drama of real life (affairs, accidents, cast changes, death!) off the screen.

WHY TO WATCH: This movie is a darling to many, if not all, professionals working in the film industry. It might not be accurate — Godard ended his friendship with Truffaut over it, calling him a liar over a series of letters — but it’s an honest declaration of love. “Cinema is king,” Truffaut declares, over and over again. Day for Night won the 1973 Oscar for "Best Foreign Film."

WHAT YOU’LL LEARN: The fictional director, Ferrand, is in love with the technical process of making movies. Yet, he can’t seem to see that Meet Pamela is doomed to be a flop. Because of his obsession, Day for Night sheds light on a bunch of neat behind-the-scenes technicalities: how they film a balcony scene without the building, how scenes are shot “day for night” (shooting night scenes during the day using a filter) and how they use liquid foam to create the illusion of snow. (Oh, the horrific sight of all those bell-bottoms covered in soap!)

THE BEST SCENE: An entire crew of adults huddles around heavy filming equipment, watching in rapture as a kitten avoids being directed to a bowl of milk. Frustration builds up until Ferrand tells the props person, “We'll shoot the scene when you find a cat that can act!”

MEMORABLE QUOTES: “Shooting a film is like crossing the Wild West by stagecoach. You set out hoping for a nice trip, but soon you wonder if you’ll ever reach your destination.”

“What’s a director? A director is someone who’s asked endless questions about everything. Sometimes he has answers, but not always.”

“I’d drop a guy for a film but never a film for a guy!”

“No one’s personal life runs smoothly. That only happens in the movies.”

"One of the great love letters to the chaos and creativity, joy and sorrow of movie-making." Daily Express