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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 5,053 users  
Reviews: 40 user | 38 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

Truffaut remained true to Dr. Itard's written accounts in most respects. A few variations are: (1) Victor was not stark naked when first captured; he had the shreds of a shirt around his neck. (2) Victor's hair would have been much longer, because he was indifferent to hygiene or how he looked. (3) Jean Itard was merely a young medical student, while the film suggests that he was on an equal basis with Pinel. (4) Madame Guerin became almost a mother to Victor, always attending to him, whereas the film suggests that she merely helped to train him and to clean up after him. (5) Itard would rub Victor's back to relax and comfort him, but then had to worry about sexual responses. Victor also often wet his bed, but Itard never punished him; he decided to allow Victor to learn whether he preferred to lie in a wet bed or to get up to relieve himself. These problems are not shown. (6) In the scene in which Victor throws a tantrum about learning the alphabet, his and Dr. Itard's responses were different than are shown in the film. Real-life Victor bit his bedsheets and began to throw hot coals around the house before falling to the ground and writhing/screaming/kicking; and Itard (Truffaut) did not merely put him into the closet for a few moments. Itard admits [in translation] that he actually "violently threw open the window of his room, which was on the fifth floor overlooking some boulders directly below ... and grabbing him forcibly by the hips, I held him out of the window, his head facing directly down toward the bottom of the chasm. After some seconds, I drew him in again. He was pale, covered with a cold sweat ... I made him gather up all the [alphabet] cards and replace them all. This was done very slowly ... but at least without impatience." Viewers may thank Truffaut for choosing the lesser of two evil punishments! (7) Finally, Dr. Itard took care of Victor for 5 years; in 1806, Victor moved into Madame Guerin's house and stayed there for the rest of his life, with the French Government paying for his care. It is believed that he died there, without ever marrying. See more »

Goofs

In the US subtitles, the opening says that this is a true story that happened in 1978. It should have read 1798. See more »

Quotes

Le Dr Jean Itard: For the present, his emotions appear unaffected. Despite the ill-treatment he endured at the institute, no one ever saw him cry.
See more »

Connections

Followed by Nell (1994) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
A true story
29 July 2001 | by See all my reviews

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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