The définitif and the provisoire (the absolute v. the provisional)
in François Truffaut
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François Truffaut's films provide little explicit commentary on the social or political questions of their times. One way of approaching the films' system of values is through the underlying tension between what Truffaut tends to term 'le définitif' ('the definitive', 'the absolute') and 'le provisoire' ('the provisional', 'the impermanent'). La Nuit américaine expresses Truffaut's immense delight in the process of fictionalising reality into film and in the power of the medium to reverse the flow of time and to refuse the definitive nature of the past. Made five years after La Nuit américaine, La Chambre (based on a Henry James story) presents Truffaut in a role totally opposed to that of the film-director Ferrand. One of the films that has been most reproached with a failure to address socio-political issues is Le Dernier métro, set under the German Occupation and thus unavoidably referring to a contentious period in French history.

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