THINKING ABOUT FILMS: The Wild Child

We are in the kitchen of an eighteenth-century French farmhouse, where water is boiling away in a pot over the fireplace. The man in a ruffled shirt takes the boiling water from the fire and pours it on a boy of eleven or twelve who sits in a bathtub. The boy, unharmed, closes his eyes and smiles blissfully through the steam.

"He's going to melt like a piece of sugar," says the housekeeper frowning behind him. He doesn't. He's "The Wild Child," "L'Enfant Sauvage" of Francois Truffaut's film by that name, a child abandoned to grow up like an animal in the forests of Aveyron. He has not been educated to believe that heat is a source of pain. As the man in the ruffled shirt says, "He picks up glowing embers in his fingers." And the boy's fingers are not scorched.

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Editorial
A Leader for Today
August 28, 1971
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