Jean-Luc Godard & François Truffaut – Jean-Luc Godard and François Truffaut: In Defense of Henri Langlois (1968)
Henri Langlois, Georges Franju, and Jean Mitry, founded the Cinémathèque Française (a Paris-based film theater and museum) in 1936 which progressed from ten films in 1936 to more than 60,000 films by the early 70s. More than just an archivist, Langlois saved, restored and showed many films that were at risk of disintegration. Films are stored in celluloid, a material which requires a highly controlled environment and some degree of attention to survive over time.
During the Second World War, Langlois and his colleagues helped to save many films that were in risk of being destroyed due to the Nazi occupation of France.
Langlois’s desire to save films from oblivion may be rooted in the partial destruction, and consequent looting, of his place of birth in World War I. At the time of Langlois’s birth, Izmir was a Greek city then named Smyrna. The port city was partially destroyed in the hostilities after World War I after the Greeks attacked Turkey from a base there which they had occupied. It was then rebuilt after 1922. The large Greek population was expelled or killed.
Besides films, Langlois also helped to preserve other items linked to cinema such as cameras, projection machines, costumes and vintage theater programmes.
Langlois made an important impact on the French 1960s New Wave directors, including François Truffaut, Jean-Luc Godard, Jacques Rivette, Claude Chabrol and Alain Resnais among others, and the generation of filmmakers that followed. Some of these filmmakers were called les enfants de la cinémathèque (“children of the cinémathèque”).
In 1968, French culture minister Andre Malraux tried to fire Langlois by stopping funding of the project, allegedly due to Langlois’ arrogance and iron-fisted rule. Local and international uproar ensued, and even the prestigious Cannes Film Festival was halted in protest that year. Malraux bracktracked.
This it is an announcement made in 1968 by Jean-Luc Godard and Francois TRuffaut like support to Langlois