L'enfant sauvage (1970)
Francois Truffaut continues to portray the turmoils and challenges of childhood and upbringing with this record of an uncivilized 12-year-old boy who was found living by himself in the French woods in 1798 and taken in by a young doctor with ambitions of proving that the boy could adapt to the civilized society both sociologically and psychologically. Truffaut deploys a minimalistic filmatic approach with black and white photography, concise editing and a matter-of-factly presentation of the savaged boy as well as the contemporary academic and educational customs and traditions. The extraordinary story is handled with utmost respect by the New Wave auteur who stays surprisingly true to the reported real story on which the film is based, and conducts a poignant and remarkably engaging film. The main factors of the film's effect are two: Firstly, the incredibly authentic performance by the young, untrained (seemingly unacting) Jean-Pierre Cargol, and secondly, the reserved but very articulated use of emotion. Truffaut never let us enjoy even a single moment of cheap sentimentality, but instead portrays Victor's strict but fair transition from the wild child of the title to a social and empathetic human being. Hopefully, Truffaut claims, this is a transition which was good for the boy, but really, there is no way to be completely sure.