The Wild Child (1970) 720p

Movie Poster
The Wild Child (1970) - Movie Poster
Frame Rate:
25 fps
French 2.0  
Run Time:
83 min
IMDB Rating:
7.5 / 10 
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Directors: Francois Truffaut [Director] ,

Movie Description:
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.


  • The Wild Child (1970) - Movie Scene 1
  • The Wild Child (1970) - Movie Scene 2
  • The Wild Child (1970) - Movie Scene 1

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Nurture versus Nature

"L'enfant sauvage" is about a child that grew up in the forest and was discovered when he was about 10 years old. Dr Jean Itard (played by Truffaut himself) takes an interest in the child and tries to educate him. Of course communication and language comes all but natural to such a child and the education turns out to be a struggle.

The film made me think of "The miracle worker" (1962, Arthur Penn). In this film the main character is a deaf mute girl. Of course that is something different than a child that grew up in the wild. Questions of nurture versus nature are absent in "The miracle worker". The struggle to reach a certain level of communication with the child is however the same.

"The miracle worker" is based on the real story of Helen Keller (1880 - 1968). It has a happy ending. "L'enfant sauvage" is also based on a real story, this time of Victor of Aveyron (1790 - 1828). The film has an open end. Real life had a tragic end. Victor would never learn to talk.

Truffaut is amazing... like as always

"The Wild Child" ("L'enfant sauvage" in French) is a non-traditional coming-of-age. It is about a child who grew up alone in nature and without human contact, adopted by a doctor willing to help him and to try to introduce him to society. This child existed in real life. His name was Victor and according to official information, he was found wandering through French forests at the end of the 18th century.

Taking these facts, the French director Fran?ois Truffaut injects his film not with melodrama or sensationalism - his story is an intellectual exercise and an anthropological and psychological study of a human being who -afar of everything- makes us question our own nature.

Truffaut uses a point, is Victor living better like the rest of us or should he return to the forest? And then adds, what is his nature? To force him to become 'civilized' or the one that he already had? The same applies to our own lives.

Like Victor, similar cases have been studied a lot in the sciences. In the film, Truffaut directed, wrote and acted. He interprets Dr. Itard with understanding and rationalism, but, above all, with a deductive thought that Victor did not have brain damage and that, in fact, he could be educated to be like any other person. The extraordinary thing about the case is the bravery of Itard, who without the knowledge we have today about biology, psychology, learning and language theories, dared to structure Victor and indoctrinate him as one of us.

This constitutes one of the fundamental bases of education - the construction of people under what we conceive as what is right. It is true that we are all born being wild and that, over time, society transforms us. "The Wild Child" made me think about the evolution of the human being to reach what we are today, going from the invention of rudimentary weapons for hunting, the management of fire, to the science, beliefs, knowledge and languages that have been created and discovered.

Eventually, Victor begins to learn, and Dr. Itard -without having Freud's psychoanalysis, nor with Skinner's theory of classical and operant conditioning, or Bandura's social learning-, experiences, records achievements, formulates more questions and rethinks them, to study Victor and transform him.

Even with what has already been described, "The Wild Child" is not only science; Truffaut translates the interactions between the doctor and the child into emotions for the public. Without having to develop a classic father-and-son or teacher-and-student drama, what emerges is a close relationship that goes beyond the words and the so familiar gestures that we know as a simple hug.

Victor, played determinedly by Jean-Pierre Cargol does not speak (he does not know how to do it) but he does hear and over time, he understands. He may say "lait" because he has been conditioned to do it and he knows that in response he will get a bowl full of milk, but for him, it is no more than a sound and the word does not represent anything, nor the sequence of letters that make it and even letters alone don't have meaning. He says it because he has learned to do it and the rest would take much longer.

As for Truffaut, playing here one of his most humanistic films after his passionate "The 400 Blows" and "Stolen Kisses", he makes it clear here that to express something there are more than signs, meanings and structures to transmit it and to understand that Victor is capable of crying, of understanding justice not as a concept but as an assumption and of making decisions that reflect instinctive appetites, as well as articulated thoughts. He learns new things and reflects them every time he has fun or interacts with someone else, when he is free and escapes to the forest, when he concentrates to study or more when his world marvels when drinking water. All that is true. However, beyond reason, emotions and reactions, Itard did not count on that Victor already had something very clear - he always knew how to live.

this way, kid

A key figure in French cinema for a decade, Fran?ois Truffaut cast himself in a lead role for the first time in "L'enfant sauvage" ("The Wild Child" in English), the true story of a feral boy discovered in France in 1798. Truffaut plays the physician trying to help the boy adapt to society.

I understand that people's attitudes towards the boy can get seen as an allusion to colonialism. The people in Europe viewed any non-European person as a wild person needing "civilizing", just as they view the boy.

Anyway, it's a fine movie. Never manipulative or sentimental, it allows the viewer to form their own opinion of the depicted events. My opinion is that it confirms Truffaut as one of cinema's grand masters.

So yes, have some EAU (water).
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