Daily | Jean Gruault, 1924 – 2015

Jean Gruault

Jean Gruault

Word comes from the Notebook of the passing of Jean Gruault, who wrote 25 screenplays between 1960 and 1995. His screenplay for Alain Resnais‘s Mon oncle d’Amérique (1980) was nominated for an Oscar and a César and won a David di Donatello Award. The New York Film Critics Circle named his screenplay for François Truffaut‘s The Story of Adele H. the best of 1975.

Other notable works include his screenplays for Jacques Rivette‘s debut feature, Paris Belongs to Us (1960), and Rivette’s The Nun (1966); Roberto Rossellini‘s Vanina Vanini (1961) and The Taking of Power by Louis XIV (1966), based on a scenario by Philippe Erlanger; Jules and Jim (1962), co-written with Truffaut, as well as Truffaut’s The Wild Child (1970), Two English Girls (1971) and The Green Room (1978); Jean-Luc Godard‘s Les carabiniers (1963), working with Godard and Rossellini; Chantal Akerman‘s The Eighties (1983) and Golden Eighties (1986), both collaborations; the scenario for Resnais’s Love Unto Death (1984); and he worked with Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne on You’re on My Mind (1992).

In a 1978 interview with L’Express, Truffaut noted that he’d work with “my habitual accomplice,” Gruault, for five or six years on a film like Adele H., The Green Room or The Wild Child. “These screenplays are more careful than others because they are more fragile, more difficult [and they] make one a little afraid. I don’t need to be so careful with an Antoine Doinel film.”

One screenplay Gruault wrote for Truffaut was never realized but was loosely adapted by Valérie Donzelli as Marguerite & Julien, which wasn’t particularly well-received when it premiered last month at Cannes. But critics weren’t blaming the screenwriter. Jean Gruault was 90.

Update, 6/18: “From the first,” writes Ronald Bergan for the Guardian, “Gruault and Truffaut decided on a modus operandi: they would work at a distance from each other. Gruault would write a first draft and send it to Truffaut by messenger. Truffaut would mark it with ideas, cross out passages and underline those that pleased him and send it back to Gruault, who would integrate the suggestions into a second draft, and so on…. The working methods with Resnais were almost the antithesis of those with Truffaut. Resnais and Gruault would meet two or three times a week to exchange ideas. Resnais demanded that each character, even the smallest, should have a biography. Gruault would then record all the dialogue on to cassettes, playing all the roles himself.”

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