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The Wild Child (1970)
"L'enfant sauvage" (original title)

G  |   |  Drama  |  11 September 1970 (USA)
7.6
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Ratings: 7.6/10 from 5,379 users  
Reviews: 40 user | 40 critic

In a French forest in 1798, a child is found who can not walk, speak, read or write. A doctor becomes interested in the child and patiently attempts to civilize him.

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(scenario, adaptation and dialogue), (scenario, adaptation and dialogue), 1 more credit »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Jean-Pierre Cargol ...
Victor, l'enfant sauvage
...
Le Dr Jean Itard
Françoise Seigner ...
Madame Guerin
Jean Dasté ...
Professor Philippe Pinel
Annie Miller ...
Madame Lemeri
...
Monsieur Lemeri
Paul Villé ...
Remy
Nathan Miller ...
Baby Lemeri
Mathieu Schiffman ...
Mathieu
Jean Gruault ...
Visitor at Institute
Robert Cambourakis ...
Countryman
Gitt Magrini ...
Countrywoman
Jean-François Stévenin ...
Countryman
Laura Truffaut ...
Girl at farm
Eva Truffaut ...
Girl at farm
Edit

Storyline

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 Yepok

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

At last an adult film to which you can take your children.

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

G | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Release Date:

11 September 1970 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Wild Child  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$6,680 (USA) (7 November 2008)

Gross:

$61,373 (USA) (15 January 2010)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The real Dr. Jean Itard was Chief Physician at the National Institution for Deaf-Mutes, Paris. His work with Victor led to his being honored by the French Academy of Science. But Itard is better known as one of the forefathers of the Montessori method of teaching, and he is remembered for his work with deaf-mute children. See more »

Goofs

When getting ready to see the neighbors, the boy's hands are on the same pane of glass in the window, but in the next cut, his hands are on different panes. See more »

Quotes

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.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Squid and the Whale (2005) See more »

Soundtracks

Concerto for Piccolo and Strings in C Major RV 443
by Antonio Vivaldi
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Truffaut's most touching film
18 December 2003 | by (Dorset, England) – See all my reviews

L'Enfant sauvage, Dir François Truffaut – 1969

Reviewed by Ollie – December 19th 2003

Three hunters discover and a naked child, living in a forest. Capturing him, he is taken to an institute for deaf and mute children. From there he is used as little more than an exhibit.

Having read of his story, Jean Itard, a Parisian doctor, played by Truffaut himself, makes it his goal to integrate this `wild child' into society. What follows is an astonishing tale of a boy, completely deprived of all human contact, as he adapt to life in an unfamiliar, structured society. Named simply `Victor' by Dr Itard, we watch as kindly doctor attempts to educate and communicate with this unusual child. We see Victor's first smiles; we hear his first intelligible sounds, and witness, for the first time, his tears.

This is a deeply powerful film, directed brilliantly by Truffaut, and far surpassing his earlier, and much more critically acclaimed `400 Blows'. Jean-Pierre Cargol plays Victor with a remarkable passion, and is absolutely convincing as this child of the forest. His mannerisms, his posture, his very presence would have one believing he genuinely was a `wild child'.

Truffaut follows this story with startling accuracy – based on the real life journals of Dr Itard, his adaptation is faithful to the last. His portrayal of the Doctor is filled with compassion, and a tenderness rarely seen in films.

This is genuine pleasure to watch, and is a testament to enduring spirit of mankind. The main criticism I have is the abrupt ending. We are left with so many unanswered questions. In truth, the real `Victor' died approximately 28 years after his first encounter with Itard. I know little of what happened during the time span between the end of the film and his death, but I intend to find out. This film is only a glance at a boy being introduced to a strange, frightening and unfamiliar world.

It is not without its moments of humour. The scene where Victor practically throws the doctor tending to Itard from the house is both funny and charming, while remaining delicately underplayed.

Everything about this film works so well, from the minimalist photography to the classical score. The casting could not have been better. Truffaut presents himself as not only an accomplished director, but also as an inspired actor. Jean-Pierre Cargol is utterly believable, and thoroughly likeable as Victor, and mention must go to Françoise Seigner, as Madame Geurin, Itard's housekeeper, and the child's carer.

This is a very special film, which deserves a great deal of respect. The visual transfer to DVD is accurate and crisp, and the mono soundtrack subtle, clear and effective. This is one DVD which would have greatly benefited from some extras. Perhaps some insight into Victors' life from adolescence to his death, and some information on what became of Itard. Lack of extras notwithstanding, this should still be very high on anyone's shopping list, and is highly recommended. I believe this was Truffauts' crowning achievement, and is a truly beautiful and inspiring film.



Reviewed by Ollie


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