I Found It At the Movies: 1968–L’enfance nue (Maurice Pialat)


Inspired by Dave Hicks’ excellent blog, I have decided to write about my favorite film for each year from 1926-2008.

1968: L’enfance nue (Maurice Pialat)

Maurice Pialat has never really caught on in this country. Some of his films–and he didn’t make that many of them–remain without distribution in the States. But according to some French cinephiles Pialat is the most important French director to emerge post-Nouvelle Vague. Along with Leos Carax, he’s certainly been the most important to me.  

L’enfance nue, Pialat’s debut feature, is one of his titles that’s not terribly easy to find. In fact, I’ve only seen it once, and that was at an old cinematheque named Palais de Chaillot (which would become the namesake of my production company). Along with Ken Loach’s Kes, L’enfance nue is my favorite film about the vulnerabilities and dangers of childhood. In typical Pialat fashion, this one is emotionally raw and unsentimental as well as formally natural and unobtrusive.

Pialat might be formally too tame for the general American public, or maybe his lack of sentimentality is the turn-off. Whatever the cause of his obscurity in the States, in my book he remains one of the giants of the last fifty years. Pialat is an honest, deep, keen filmmaker, who has a certain Bressonian purity coupled with Nicholas Ray’s emotionality. I can only hope that Pialat will soon get his due stateside. We’ve been deprived long enough of this truly great body of work.

What moviemakers can learn: Be careful not to be Orson Welles’ed. In other words, don’t worry if you haven’t made your first feature by the time you’re 25. Pialat was 43 when he made his first feature, and he went on to become one of France’s most notable directors.  

Other contenders for 1968: There’s a good number of titles I still need to see from this year.  These include:  Nagisa Ôshima’s Kôshikei (Death by Hanging), Alain Resnais’ Je t’aime, je t’aime, Frederick Wiseman’s High School and Ingmar Bergman’s Shame. Although I have no runners-up this year, I need to revisit Roman Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby, Sergio Leone’s Once Upon A Time in the West, George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead and Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. It’s been too long since I’ve seen any of them to know where they’d place on this list.  

After living in Los Angeles for seven years, Jeffrey Goodman returned to his hometown of Shreveport, Louisiana to direct The Last Lullaby. Co-written by the creator of Road to Perdition, and starring Tom Sizemore and Sasha Alexander, The Last Lullaby was filmed entirely in and around Shreveport and financed by 48 local investors. Goodman is now at work raising money for his next feature, Peril.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.