Seeing and Revising

I’ve been reading François Truffaut’s The Films in My Life, a collection of the filmmaker’s criticism and other writings over the course of his life. Tucked away in his 1957 review of Anthony Mann’s Men in War is this parenthetical:

I rate Men in War very highly, higher than Attack. (We have to keep seeing certain films and revising our judgements.)

Part of what I love about Truffaut’s writing is his seeming throwaway brilliance. There is an immediacy, an urgency to every word. He was prolific and yet I don’t know if words were enough to encapsulate his every thought on the cinema. So he just tosses in little nuggets like this one that resonate with me so many decades later.

One thing I’ve been trying to do this year is keep my Letterboxd account more up to date. I’m usually a week or a month or more behind (I log every film I see through a customized version of Phillip Gruneich’s Movie Diary Plus shortcut) but I always like to add in a rating and hopefully a few words when I get to it. The star ratings are non-sensical, and I have been extremely inconsistent in the decade-plus I’ve been on Letterboxd.

Truffaut is pointing out a nice reminder about the value of recording reactions at all. We must continue to see films and revise our judgements. The films may not change, but we do. I have changed my mind on films many times over. Having this site as a record of my film thoughts is proving more and more helpful as the years go on. Seeing them again and looking back on what I wrote is often a joy.

Revising judgement on films, seeing them with new eyes, can be a fun project for anyone. I recommend it.