Jules and Jim

Jules and Jim (French: Jules et Jim [ʒyl e dʒim]) is a 1962 French New Wave romantic drama film, directed, produced and written by François Truffaut. Set around the time of World War I, it describes a tragic love triangle involving French Bohemian Jim (Henri Serre), his shy Austrian friend Jules (Oskar Werner), and Jules's girlfriend and later wife Catherine (Jeanne Moreau).

Jules and Jim
original film poster © Christian Broutin
Directed byFrançois Truffaut
Produced byMarcel Berbert
François Truffaut
Screenplay byFrançois Truffaut
Jean Gruault
Based onJules et Jim
by Henri-Pierre Roché
StarringJeanne Moreau
Oskar Werner
Henri Serre
Narrated byMichel Subor
Music byGeorges Delerue
CinematographyRaoul Coutard
Edited byClaudine Bouché
Les Films du Carrosse/ SEDIF
Distributed byCinédis (France)
Gala (UK)
Janus Films (US)
Release date
  • 23 January 1962 (1962-01-23)
Running time
105 minutes
  • French
  • German
Box office1,595,379 admissions (France)[1]

The film is based on Henri-Pierre Roché's 1953 semi-autobiographical novel describing his relationship with young writer Franz Hessel and Helen Grund, whom Hessel married.[2] Truffaut came across the book in the mid-1950s whilst browsing through some secondhand books at a shop along the Seine in Paris. Later he befriended the elderly Roché, who had published his first novel at the age of 74. The author approved of the young director's interest to adapt his work to another medium.

The film won the 1962 Grand Prix of French film prizes, the Étoile de Cristal, and Jeanne Moreau won that year's prize for best actress. The film ranked 46 in Empire magazine's "The 100 Best Films Of World Cinema" in 2010.[3] The soundtrack by Georges Delerue was named as one of the "10 best soundtracks" by Time magazine in its "All Time 100 Movies" list.[4]


The film is set before, during, and after the Great War in several different parts of France, Austria, and Germany. Jules (Oskar Werner) is a shy writer from Austria who forges a friendship with the more extroverted Frenchman, Jim (Henri Serre). They share an interest in the world of the arts and the Bohemian lifestyle. At a slide show, they become entranced with a bust of a goddess and her serene smile and travel to see the ancient statue on an island in the Adriatic Sea.

After encounters with several women, they meet the free-spirited, capricious Catherine (Jeanne Moreau), a doppelgänger for the statue with the serene smile. The three hang out together. Although she begins a relationship with Jules, both men are affected by her presence and her attitude toward life. Jim continues to be involved with Gilberte, usually seeing her apart from the others. A few days before war is declared, Jules and Catherine move to Austria to get married. Both men serve during the war, on opposing sides; each fears throughout the conflict the potential for facing the other or learning that he might have killed his friend.

After the wartime separation, Jim visits, and later stays with, Jules and Catherine in their house in the Black Forest. Jules and Catherine by then have a young daughter, Sabine. Jules confides the tensions in their marriage. He tells Jim that Catherine torments and punishes him at times with numerous affairs, and she once left him and Sabine for six months.

She flirts with and attempts to seduce Jim, who has never forgotten her. Jules, desperate that Catherine might leave him forever, gives his blessing for Jim to marry Catherine so that he may continue to visit them and see her. For a while, the three adults live happily with Sabine in the same chalet in Austria, until tensions between Jim and Catherine arise because of their inability to have a child.

Jim leaves Catherine and returns to Paris. After several exchanges of letters between Catherine and Jim, they resolve to reunite when she learns that she is pregnant. The reunion does not occur after Jules writes to tell Jim that Catherine suffered a miscarriage.

After a time, Jim runs into Jules in Paris. He learns that Jules and Catherine have returned to France. Catherine tries to win Jim back, but he rebuffs her, saying he is going to marry Gilberte. Furious, she pulls a gun on him, but he wrestles it away and flees. He later encounters Jules and Catherine in a famous (at that time) movie theater, the Studio des Ursulines.

The three of them stop at an outdoor cafe. Catherine asks Jim to get into her car, saying she has something to tell him. She asks Jules to watch them and drives the car off a damaged bridge into the river, killing herself and Jim. Jules is left to deal with the ashes of his friends.[5]


  • Jeanne Moreau as Catherine
  • Oskar Werner as Jules
  • Henri Serre as Jim
  • Vanna Urbino as Gilberte, Jim's fiancée
  • Serge Rezvani (credited under the name "Boris Bassiak") as Albert, Catherine's sometime lover
  • Marie Dubois as Thérèse, Jules' ex-girlfriend
  • Sabine Haudepin as Sabine, Jules and Catherine's daughter
  • Kate Noëlle as Birgitta
  • Anny Nelsen as Lucy
  • Christiane Wagner as Helga
  • Jean-Louis Richard as a customer in cafe
  • Michel Varesano as a customer in cafe
  • Pierre Fabre as a drunk in the cafe
  • Danielle Bassiak as Albert's companion
  • Bernard Largemains as Merlin
  • Elen Bober as Mathilde
  • Dominique Lacarrière as a woman
  • Michel Subor as the Narrator (voice)[6]


One of the products of the French New Wave (Nouvelle Vague), Truffaut incorporated newsreel footage, photographic stills, freeze frames, panning shots, wipes, masking, dolly shots, and voiceover narration (by Michel Subor). Truffaut's cinematographer was Raoul Coutard, a frequent collaborator with Jean-Luc Godard, who employed the latest lightweight cameras to create an extremely fluid film style. For example, some of the postwar scenes were shot using cameras mounted on bicycles.

The musical score is by Georges Delerue. One song, "Le Tourbillon" ("The Whirlwind") by Serge Rezvani, which sums up the turbulence of the lives of the three main characters, became a popular hit.

The dialogue is predominantly in French, with occasional lines in German and one line in English.

Jeanne Moreau incarnates the style of the French New Wave actress. The critic Ginette Vincindeau has defined this as, "beautiful, but in a kind of natural way; sexy, but intellectual at the same time, a kind of cerebral sexuality—this was the hallmark of the nouvelle vague woman." Though she isn't in the film's title, Catherine is "the structuring absence. She reconciles two completely opposed ideas of femininity."[7]

Awards and nominations

Year Award ceremony Category Nominee Result
1963 BAFTA Best Film from Any Source Jules and Jim Nominated
Best Foreign Actress Jeanne Moreau Nominated
Bodil Awards Best European Film Jules and Jim Won
Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists Best Foreign Director François Truffaut Won
1962 Cahiers du cinéma Annual Top 10 List François Truffaut 2nd
Mar del Plata Film Festival Best Film François Truffaut Nominated
Best Director François Truffaut Won


In film

  • Paul Mazursky's 1980 film Willie & Phil, starring Margot Kidder, Michael Ontkean, and Ray Sharkey, is a direct homage to Jules and Jim.
  • According to ShortList, "The pacy energy of GoodFellas (1990) was influenced by Scorsese’s love of French New Wave cinema, especially François Truffaut’s doomed love triangle classic Jules et Jim. He wanted a similar voiceover to open, along with extensive narration, quick cuts and freeze frame shots. He called it a 'punk attitude' towards film convention, mirroring the attitude of the gangsters in the film."[8]
  • In Bob Ellis's 1992 film The Nostradamus Kid, Ken goes to see Jules and Jim with Jenny in Sydney in 1962.
  • It is referred to by content—not by name—in Threesome (1994) by the protagonist Eddy, during his inner monologue describing the situation with his roommates.
  • It is referenced in Amélie (2001) during the description of her character, as well as in the format of the storytelling of the film.
  • Jules and Jim is referenced in Cameron Crowe's Vanilla Sky (2001). The final montage includes a clip featuring Jeanne Moreau; a poster for the film is displayed in the main character's bedroom; two best friends fall in love with the same woman—who leaves the insecure one for the passionate one—causing friction between them, and a climactic scene involves a woman's driving her car off a bridge with her lover.
  • In the Wes Anderson film The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004), Steve says, "Not this one, Klaus", when speaking of a prospective love interest. This is a reference to Jules's line, "Pas celle-là, Jim" ("Not this one, Jim"), when speaking of Catherine.
  • The shooting of the movie was the subject of a documentary directed in 2009 by Thierry Tripod.[9]

In music

In television

  • In Awkward's season 2, Episode 10, the film is used as a reference to Jenna Hamilton's relationship with friends Matty and Jake, both of whom also watched the film for a class.
  • In a season five episode of Beverly Hills, 90210, Dylan writes a screenplay with a friend he met in rehab. The friend transforms it from a psychological thriller to a porno film by writing a scene containing a threesome. Valerie comes to speak to them and they refer to Jules and Jim while discussing the scene's meaning. Then Dylan and his friend rent Jules and Jim to watch.
  • Episode 3.5 of Northern Exposure is named "Jules et Joel."
  • In Portlandia's season 3 episode "Alexandra", Fred and Carrie refer to New Wave cinema as they discuss their roommate. Both navigate a relationship with her before the three embark on a day trip of frolicking and bike riding reminiscent of iconic scenes from "Jules et Jim."
  • In Blacklist season 5 episode 16 "The Capricorn Killer", Raymond Reddington suggests corrupt U.S. Marshall Ian Garvey enjoy what little time he has left by watching the film as part of a double feature.

See also

Further reading

  • Truffaut, François and Fry, Nicholas (translator) (1968). Jules and Jim; a film. New York: Simon and Schuster. ISBN 978-0-671-20089-3.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)


  1. Box Office information for Francois Truffaut films at Box Office Story
  2. "Stéphane Hessel, un homme engagé : 'J’ai toujours été du côté des dissidents'" Télérama (March 12, 2011). Retrieved March 17, 2011 (in French)
  3. "The 100 Best Films Of World Cinema – 46. Jules and Jim". Empire.
  4. "Jules et Jim". Time.com. 3 October 2011. Retrieved 15 May 2017.
  5. Fry, Nicholas (translator). Truffaut, François and Gruault, Jean (script). Jules and Jim, a film by François Truffaut. New York: Simon and Schuster. 1968. 68-27592. pp. 11-100.
  6. Allen, Don. Finally Truffaut. New York: Beaufort Books. 1985. ISBN 0-8253-0335-4. OCLC 12613514. pp. 225-226.
  7. Ginette Vincindeau, speaking on an edition of BBC Radio 3's Nightwaves series, hosted by Philip Dodd, March 2009.
  8. "50 (useless but) genius facts about Goodfellas". Shortlist. Retrieved 23 August 2012.
  9. "Presentation of the documentary about the shooting of Jules and Jim on Eurochannel". Eurochannel.com. Retrieved 15 May 2017.
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