POSTED February 10 2014

Jules and Jim: Can a movie conceived for one generation speak to the next?

UnknownRecently I watched Criterion’s Blu-Ray restoration of Francois Truffaut’s Jules and Jim and was reminded of how fluid is the experience of re-viewing a film. Jules and Jim is the same film I saw in college, but I’m not the same person and the early 21st century is not the same culture as the early 1960s, when Truffaut’s film was made. I suppose I’ve seen it about once a decade since the 1970s, and every times it happens to me all over again.

To a college-aged cinephile, Jules And Jim plays like a romantic triangle tinged with levity and gravity—its tempo fast, as in comedy, its shadows long, as in drama. On second sight, more mature moviegoers might view it as a case study in romantic triangulation, with Catherine pitting the clinging Jules against the independent Jim, whom she takes as a lover. There are psychological and psychosexual nuances that an inexperienced 18-year-old might miss: Is Catherine erratic, or certifiably crazy? Are Jules and Jim homosocial or homosexual? In the scene where Catherine dresses as a boy, does she both turn them on and turn them?

Do you have films that have changed on you on subsequent viewings? Is Jules and Jim one of them?


  1. This will require some thought. It’s a very interesting question. Off the top of my head, I would like to mention both Dr. Strangelove and 2001: A Space Odyssey. I viewed both of these films very differently after I became an adult and had a sense of the things you were expected to accomplish as a working person with those kinds of responsibilities and organizational dependencies. Before I started my career, I had no idea that such concerns and the ways they affect your attitude and behavior were such an important aspect of both films.

  2. Didem says:

    When Catherine dresses as a boy, she does turn them on. Not that because she looks more masculine in that outfit, – actually she looks very feminine there – with her beautiful smile – and the shape of her breasts, which can be easily seen when she runs. She does turn them on, because she becomes one of them, they are on the same level, three of them becomes one. I don’t see any homosexual tendencies there.

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