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Film / Jules and Jim

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Jules and Jim (Fr: Jules et Jim) is a 1962 film directed by François Truffaut, adapted from the novel of the same name by Henri-Pierre Roché (Truffaut would later adapt his Two English Girls). It is commonly considered one of the most important films of the French New Wave and one of the key films of The '60s.

Jules (Oskar Werner) and Jim (Henri Serre) are, respectively, Austrian and French writers who meet in 1912 Paris. They form a fast friendship, enjoying the Bohemian life of pre-war Paris and catting around with various women. Eventually Jules falls in love with fiery, strong-willed Catherine (Jeanne Moreau). They marry not long before World War I separates Jules and Jim for four years.

The old friends look each other up after the war ends. Jim senses distance between Catherine and Jules, and Jules admits that Catherine has grown bored with him and has been cheating on him right and left. In fact, Catherine is on the verge of leaving him for another man. A desperate Jules asks Jim to claim Catherine for himself so Jules won't lose her. Jim, who has been carrying a torch for Catherine for years, readily agrees, and the three of them live together for a while, until jealousy and Catherine's emotional instability shatter their happiness.


  • Actor Allusion: When Jim first visits Jules' home in Austria, Catherine shows him a picture of Jules costumed as Mozart. Oskar Werner, the actor who plays Jules, also portrayed Mozart in an earlier film.
  • Alliterative Title
  • Book Burning: Towards the end of the movie the trio are in a movie theater where they see a newsreel of a Nazi bookburning.
  • Downer Ending: Catherine and Jim die, Jules visits their cremation, which the film shows in detail, including the bones left over in cremation and then he walks out of the graveyard, carrying the urns of the ashes containing that of his friends.
  • Foreshadowing: The trio is casually strolling along the Seine when Jules makes some sexist comments. Catherine suddenly flings herself into the river, and the boys have to dive in to get her. At the end of the movie, Catherine drives her car into the river with Jim inside, committing murder-suicide.
  • Gratuitous English: Catherine's mother was British. While explaining to the boys some crackpot theory she read about the Earth being inside a hollow shell, she veers into English for one line, for no apparent reason.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Not enough jealousy in this film. But Gilberte admits to being jealous of Jim and Catherine's relationship, and Catherine is violently possessive of Jim.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Jules and Jim form a deep and lasting friendship. So deep and lasting that they can remain friends even when their countries fight a war against each other, and later, while both sleeping with the same woman.
  • Ho Yay: In-Universe. When Jim is reading to Jules his book based on the two of them, he says "Rumors circulated about their unusual friendship."
  • "I Am" Song: Le tourbillion de la vie is one for Catherine.
  • Idiosyncratic Wipe: In one scene where Jim is looking out a window, the film cuts to a black screen, except for one small rectangle where the window is. The rectangle then expands out to show the whole screen.
  • If I Can't Have You…: After finding out Jim is going to marry Gilberte, Catherine lures Jim into her car, and then drives both of them off a bridge to their deaths, but not before cruelly telling Jules to "watch very carefully."
  • Love Dodecahedron: There's the central Love Triangle between Jules, Jim, and Catherine. Then there's Catherine's lover Albert. Then there's Jim's girlfriend Gilberte, whom he leaves Catherine for when things with her go bad.
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: A very dark version. As compelling as she is, Catherine's joie-de-vivre seems to come out of self-centered sociopathy. The questionable aspects of her behavior escalate until she kills herself and Jim by driving them off a bridge in her car out of sheer whimsy. Indeed in an interview, Truffaut hung a proto-Lampshade on it:
    François Truffaut: She is totally fabulous. If you met such a woman in real life, you would see in her only faults—-which the film ignores.
  • Mood Whiplash: The movie became famous for its incredible shifts in tone. It starts out happy, with fast editing, jump cuts and fun, and then it gets serious, melancholy and sad, and the editing gets slower and more moody.
  • Name and Name: Jules and Jim.
  • Ominous Fog: Thick fog has enveloped Jules and Catherine's chalet as Jim is leaving for good, his relationship with Catherine having gone sour.
  • Polyamory: Jules, Jim, and Catherine make a stab at one. In and of itself, polyamory is deemed acceptable, but "pioneers must be humble and unselfish," and Catherine's selfishness and jealousy results in a murder-suicide.
  • Really Gets Around: Catherine really gets around, seemingly willing to sleep with every man in Europe except for her husband.
    Jules: Catherine believes one party in every relationship must be faithful: the other party.
  • Scare Chord: Played straight when Catherine whips out a gun after Jim tells her he's going to marry Gilberte.
  • Sexless Marriage: Having grown bored with Jules, and having already provided him with a daughter, Catherine tells him that part of their life is over. Then she starts sleeping with everyone else in Germany.
  • Shout-Out: The theater that the trio exit near the end of the film has a poster for Un Chien Andalou.
  • Sleeping Single: Unlike most films made in America during The Hays Code, in this movie there's a reason that Jim finds Jules and Catherine sleeping in separate rooms. Catherine has been cheating on Jules constantly and is about to leave him.
  • Smoking Is Cool: "I'll do my steam engine for you," says Therese, one of J&J's acquaintances. She then puts the lit end of the cigarette in her mouth and blows all the smoke out the other end.
  • Stock Footage: Stock footage is used to set the scene in pre-war Paris. More is used to portray World War I.
  • Title Drop: Our heroes are introducing themselves to a girl. To make sure of their names, she askes, "Jim and Jules?" The response? "No, Jules and Jim!"