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1798. In a forest, some countrymen catch a wild child who can not walk, speak, read nor write. Doctor Itard is interested by the child, and starts to educate him. Everybody thinks he will fail, but with a lot of love and patience, he manages to obtain results and the child continues with normal development. This is based on true story. Written by
The incidents based on true life, as reported by Dr. Itard and as shown by Truffaut, include the facts that: (1) Victor was captured by hunters. (2) Pinel did conclude and dismiss Victor as a helpless retarded child, "an incurable idiot." (3) Crowds of Parisians really did come to see the "Wild Boy of Aveyron." (4) Victor really did prefer the "O" sound, and accepted the name Victor, which in French has an accent on the "O" [veek-TOR]. (5) Dr. Itard appears to have been truly kind to the boy, as were Mme. Guerin and the neighbors. (6) Victor appears to have had great affection for Itard and Guerin, but was never interested in children of his own age. See more »
In the US subtitles, the opening says that this is a true story that happened in 1978. It should have read 1798. See more »
Le Dr Jean Itard:
Canton of St. Sernin. A boy, 11 or 12 years old, naked and apparently deaf and dumb while searching for acorns and roots to eat was caught in the Caune woods by three hunters as he was about to climb a tree to escape from them. Taken to a nearby hamlet...
[he stops reading and cuts the article from the paper]
Le Dr Jean Itard:
I could examine him and establish the degree of intelligence and the nature of ideas in an adolescent deprived since childhood of all education because he had lived apart from his species.
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This austere ,black and white movie might be Truffaut's peak.Recalling sometimes,in its spirit,Penn's "miracle worker",the work suffuses with humanism,belief in dignity of man .The child ,for Truffaut,is a frail human being,who needs (and deserves ) education.Hence,some critics called "wild child" the positive side of "the 400 blows".Perhaps so,but ,in my humble opinion,the 1969 effort is much stronger than the rather academic first attempt.Following Doctor Itard's report with absolute fidelity,and portraying him with gusto,Truffaut is a much better actor here than he 's in Spielberg's "close encounters".The production is pared down to the essential,using old-fashioned techniques,recalling silent movies.I do not think,like M.Maltin,that it "loses steam half-way through".On the contrary,the most important scene in the whole movie comes in the last third:Victor,the wild child ,unfairly punished,rebels.He can see the difference between good and bad.Might it be possible that moral conscience should be innate? Does society,as Rousseau believed it pervert man? At the beginning of the movie,remember how cruel was our civilized populace to the different child: showed in public,like a queer animal,to make dough. All teachers in the world should see this masterpiece.
NB:In France,in primary school,a lot of pupils read Victor's story.
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