Several newspapers, mostly French, report the death of screenwriter Jean Gruault (1924-2015). His name is forever associated with the Nouvelle Vague as he collaborated with many of the big names in the French cinema of the sixties and seventies: François Truffaut (Jules et Jim (1962), L’Enfant sauvage (1969), L’histoire d’Adèle H (1975), La chambre verte (1978)), Jacques Rivette, Alain Resnais, Jean-Luc Godard, Chantal Akerman or Alain Téchiné with whom (and Pascal Bonitzer) he co-wrote Les Soeurs Brontë (1979).
His interest in the the Brontës was probably triggered by his writing with Truffaut Les deux anglaises et le continent (1971). He and Truffaut read biographies of Emily and Charlotte Brontë in order to create the characters of Anne and Muriel. As a matter of fact Truffaut himself wrote about it: "The hero of Les Deux Anglaises might in a sense be the young Proust, who had fallen in love with Charlotte and Emily Brontë - love them both for more than a decade without being able to choose between them." (The New Wave: Truffaut, Godard, Chabrol, Rohmer, Rivette by James Monaco, p 92).
One of the Brontë biographies used in Les Deux Anglaises and which fascinated Truffaut was Daphne du Maurier's The Infernal World of Branwell Brontë. It could have been one of the main inspirations behind one of the abandoned projects by the French director and Jean Gruault: Julien et Marguerite (1971-73) as these notes on the left by Truffaut preserved at the Bibliothèque du cinéma de la Ville de Paris, fonds Jean Gruault, show(1).
Curiously, the final film by Jean Gruault which was presented last month at the Cannes Film Festival is Marguerite et Julien (directed by Valérie Donzelli). We wonder if the Branwell connection is still there.