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Enfance Nue

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Product Description

Product Description

The singular French director Maurice Pialat (Loulou, À nos amours) puts his distinct stamp on the lost-youth film with this devastating portrait of a damaged foster child. We see François (Michel Terrazon), on the cusp of his teens, shuttled from one home to another, his behavior growing increasingly erratic, his bonds with his surrogate parents perennially fraught.

In this, his feature debut, Pialat treats this potentially sentimental scenario with astonishing sobriety and stark realism. With its full-throttle mixture of emotionality and clear-eyed skepticism, L'enfance nue (Naked Childhood) was advance notice of one of the most masterful careers in French cinema, and remains one of Pialat's finest works.

- New, restored high-definition digital transfer
- L'amour existe, director Maurice Pialat's 1960 short film about life on the outskirts of Paris
- Choses vues, autour de "L'enfance nue," a fifty-minute documentary shot just after the film's release
- Excerpts from a 1973 French television interview with Pialat
- New visual essay by critic Kent Jones on the film and Pialat's cinematic style
- Video interview with Pialat collaborators Arlette Langmann and Patrick Grandperret
- New and improved English subtitle translation
- PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic Phillip Lopate

Like a dark reflection of The 400 Blows, L'Enfance Nue (or Naked Childhood), Maurice Pialat's first feature film, follows the struggles of François (Michel Terrazon), a boy in the foster-care system who lashes out against even those who show him kindness. There's no plot to speak of--François is kicked out of one foster home and ends up with an elderly couple who try to cope with his erratic nature--but every scene is so rich with human conflict that the movie is riveting. The film is almost aggressively plain--the elegance and musical flow of Truffaut's childhood movie is utterly absent. Pialat (A Nous Amours, Loulou) wants to be utterly transparent, to create immediate contact with François's bittersweet existence, and the result is vivid and affecting. As ever with a Criterion release, the extras are superb: an interview with Pialat on French television, in which he discusses frankly and clinically the movie's commercial failure; a documentary that's half "making of," half investigation of France's foster-care system (featuring some heartbreaking interviews with foster children, including the boy that François was based on); interviews with Pialat's cowriter and assistant director; and a thoughtful critical essay. But the crown jewel is a short film by Pialat from 1960, L'Amour Existe, a stunningly beautiful and genre-defying meditation on postwar suburban life in Paris, seething with what can only be described as a scathing melancholy. --Bret Fetzer

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 11 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Very Good Movie from the point of view of a foster child. April 17 2011
By D. Crawford - Published on
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I'm usually not big on movies that one has to read but this one was well worth it especially if you are interested in adoption or providing foster care to a troubled child. This movie follows a severely emotionally/behaviorally disturbed child through the foster care system until he finally finds a family that starts meeting his needs. What I liked about the movie is that it didn't fall into any stereotypes in which they made the boy look evil like most adoption movies do. I hate seeing movies that show adopted/foster children like they are demons. With that said, this movie was truthful about behaviors that these children display: self injury, animal cruelty, stealing, fighting, violence etc. The only difference is that it also showed that the boy had a good heart too. Every adopted and foster child I have taken care of deep down had a good heart regardless of the behavior they showed. They were just hurt and trying to find their way in this cruel world. They were basically lost, "Naked" emotionally. About 3/4th through the movie, one can see the boy start smiling for the first time and connecting. That family helped that boy become a better person even though he still struggled with making proper decisions. The foster mother kept stating she didn't know what to do about him but she kept repeating, "He has a good heart." Great movie and that last statement basically sums it up.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Tragic, Yet Hartwarming. May 28 2012
By John - Published on
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
L'enfance Nue is about ten year old François (Michel Terrazon) who has just recently been taken from a foster home and put into the lives of yet another family. We get the sense, from his reaction, that this is not something new. François is problem child, to say the least, and takes his anger out by vandalism and killing animals, which is very extreme. Yet there is something about François that makes him likable, funnily enough. We see, in certain scenes, that he indeed has a good heart, and all he wants to do is be loved and accepted by the people around him. The ending gives us a glimpse of hope for this child, and will leave you with a sense of emptiness after watching. However, that is not to say the emptiness is bad. On the contrary, the emptiness is what you should feel, for you feel how poor little François feels and finally can understand the pain and loneliness he has been going through all along. This movie did a wonderful job at tugging my heartstring and bringing out emotions that made me feel and care about the main character in a profound way. Such a good movie!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
It felt like something was missing July 29 2014
By John Black - Published on
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
We are not getting the whole story. We see enough to follow the story and understand what is happening, but it could use a little embellishment.
With that said, I will add that this movie was based on a real boy, although somewhat loosely. This is explained in the first "Supplement" on the DVD entitled "Autour de 'L'enfance Nue'". Even if you do not normally watch the DVD extras I would suggest you watch "Autour de 'L'enfance Nue'" after watching this movie, it puts things into prospective. Without this extra I would have given this DVD one less star than I did.
Also to help explain my personal prospective of the movie: I have two adopted relatives, I have known other adopted children, and have been close friends with two families who took in foster children. I have known a boy very much like Francois. He had been hurt emotionally in the past, he lied frequently (especially about his past), he acted out frequently and in such a way that it seemed he either did not want to be loved, or he was constantly testing the love of those around him. Francois in this movie is very much the same, the only thing that really stands out as different about Francois and the boy I knew is how easily Francois is manipulated by other children. The two worst things he does in the movie was at the urging of other children.
This movie also shows some problems with the French foster care system in the late sixties. From the supplements on the DVD it would appear that the problems did exist in the foster care system at that time. Hopefully it has improved in the decades since.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
The bare truth of childhood: no sentiments no stereotypes Sept. 1 2010
By Dina Nadeem - Published on
Format: DVD
A wonderful film that depicts the complicated emotional turbulence of a foster child and the hypocrisy of the modern social system that can provide everything to such children but love.Maurice Pialat is a great director.
Beautiful film March 23 2012
By Nicolas W. - Published on
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This is in my top five favorite Criterion Collection releases. I love films that portray frank realism because it reflects how life really is, no sugar-coating. L'enfance nue is not your average cinematic storytelling. The dialogue in the film at times seems a little monotone, the scenes transition through sharp cuts, and yes, there is a scene of animal violence in the first ten minutes of the film... But there is something more important to focus on - the psychology of the troubled foster child, Francois. He at times seems void of feeling, but as you continue to watch, he's merely concealing himself. Francois's brutal moments are brought on by repressed anger from being abandoned, but as the film goes on unexpected tender moments occur from Francois in the most minimalistic ways. It also should be noted that the grandfather and grandmother foster parents in the film are not real actors but actual foster parents, which I feel adds to the films charm, realism, and appeal. To dismiss the film for a scene of animal violence is pretty shallow in my opinion. All of Maurice Pialat's are somewhat stark, and it's important to understand his style and what distinguished him as a filmmaker.

Also included in the Criterion DVD is a insightful 50 minute documentary on foster children in France that was made just after the film's release.

This is an honest and beautiful film. It's best to not judge Francois, but actually see him. Far more difficult to do, though far more rewarding.