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Malick and Jean Renoir

Terry Malick and Jean Renoir: A Brief Exchange
American Film Institute
April 15, 1970

This brief exchange between French film director Jean Renoir and American Film Institute student, “Terry” [as it is written in the transcript] Malick occurred during what the book, an interview JEAN RENOIR (Green Integer), claims to be Renoir’s last public appearance. In 1975, Renoir accepted a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Oscars.

The conclusion of the transcript dates this interview with Malick (among other people, presumably co-students of AFI) as April 15, 1970. The book’s back cover synopsis dates this as 1975. By then, Malick was well on his way as a film director having completed Badlands and in the midst of writing Days of Heaven.

Also, in 1975, Malick uncomfortably appeared at a special showing of Badlands at AFI, and sweated out his obligation to speak. The transcript of this occasion is available at AFI’s library, but not publicly available.

Terry Malick: I wonder what your reaction is, in general, to the best of the New Wave directors. I mean, you talk a little about how you feel about Godard and Truffaut–

Jean Renoir: Well, it’s difficult for me to judge them because as we say in French: we are in the same boat. Judging them would be a bit like judging myself.

Terry Malick: You’ve done a good job of that so far.

Jean Renoir: Thank you. It’s very strange that it is what is often missing in a movie, very often–I believe, in this world, that we proceed in little groups.You must belong to a little group. That doesn’t mean that you lose your individuality, not at all. Belonging to a little group helps you to find it. I feel that in the bottom of my heart, that I am very close to this generation which came after me, but who are looking very much for the same thing. We have different ideas on some points. For instance, Godard typically starts from the camera. Truffuat is in between.

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