Letter From Max Ophüls to François Truffaut

Truffaut was briefly taken on as trainee assistant on Lola Montès, but had to quit for financial reasons and went to work for Italian director Roberto Rossellini. Ophuls’ letter is in response to a letter of apology for this decision. February 17, 1955 Dear Monsieur Truffaut, I do sympathize with you. Your decision is quite natural. Nevertheless, I sincerely regret that we will not be able to work together. The “Bureaucracy” of this profession of ours is not conducive to the kind of collaboration that we might have enjoyed. You dislike that bureaucracy and so do I. It is too ‘practical’ for us. But, believe me, you were a little too impatient. I was unable to give you any of my time before filming began. I know that, in the meantime, you felt isolated from the rest of the crew. But, once I was on the set, it would have given me great pleasure to know that you were at my side and to profit from your ideas. I think that the basic problem was that you arrived too late for this film. Next time, we will have to make use of you earlier, alongside the creators rather than their assistants. I hope that this is how Monsieur Rossellini will employ you. I wish you many things for the time you are going to spend with him. I have the feeling, without being able to explain why, that you are going to be someone of importance in the art of the cinema and that your conversion – from film criticism to filmmaking – will go very smoothly. I know that I would be happy to work with you again, for I know that we have much in common. My best wishes to you and yours.

Max Ophüls