The Wild Child (1970)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Period Film, Biopic [feature], Childhood Drama  |   Run Time - 85 min.  |   Countries - France, Italy  |   MPAA Rating - PG
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Often overlooked in the François Truffaut canon, L'Enfant Sauvage is clearly the work of the man who made The 400 Blows and Small Change. Like both those masterpieces, it is sensitively attuned to the rhythms of childhood, but it is also a more austere and almost formal work. Casting himself as Dr. Itard, the bachelor physician who takes in an abandoned boy and tries to civilize him, Truffaut the actor is appropriately stiff, and the film's view of "Victor," the title character, is one of detached sympathy. Truffaut the director's use of black-and-white cinematography and irises suggests an affinity for silent film, and indeed, much of the story's power derives from its imagery rather than dialogue. (That's of necessity, since the story focuses almost entirely on two characters, one of whom cannot speak.) The film's philosophical undercurrent -- is Itard, the man of science, going to have his way with the savage right out of the pages of Rousseau? -- are never pushed too hard, because, as he always does in his best work, Truffaut is more interested in the emotional content of his characters. Another plus is the use of Antonio Vivaldi's elegant, moving music to reinforce both those qualities in the film.