I firs saw this film some years ago as a field trip from French class. It was shown subtitled, but I remember being amazed how much of the French I could understand. And it struck me once again as surprising.
Samuel had wanted to see this film when he saw it at the library, and as there is no harm in it and it is one of the two Truffaut films I know I like, we brought it home. Samuel loved it. He learned two or three words of french and was thrilled. For one, he learn "L'enfant sauvage" and thinks that is much cooler than wild child and asked that he be called "L'enfant sauvage" rather than wild child from now on. (Of course he hasn't heard the Troggs yet, so there's a chance he'll change his mind.) Sam also learned the words for milk and water, two words they try to teach Victor in the course of the film.
The story is based on a supposedly true story of a child captured in the Averoyne woods in 1798. He had been abandoned early in his childhood. His parents had attempted to kill him but failed and the child is thought to have fended for himself from the age of 3 to the age of 10 or 12 when he was captured. The story centers around the efforts of a scientist to help this child rejoin civilization (if that is how one refers to France in 1798).
Filmed in black and white, the boy in the film gives an absolutely believable and remarkable performance as the child brought in from the wood. Truffaut himself (I think) plays the Doctor who is is helper and attempts to bring not just a veneer of civilization but a sense of a moral being into one raised wild. It has the odd misunderstanding of the enlightenment about the nature of humanity, but the film is still solid, if not beautiful.
For those with wild children, this film may have some appeal. For those who have experienced one or more l'enfants sauvages you'll already know what it's about. Think the terrible twos about ten years later. For those becoming acquainted with or reacquainted with French, it's a good film to see.
Overall, recommended--a good story, a good film, and relatively short--about 85 minutes.
(Oh, and for those of you too polite to ask--no, it's never too early to infect your children with the "watching-obscure-foreign-films" virus. In fact as we were looking at the films, Samuel asked "What does foe rain mean?" "Films produced in other countries." "Do they speak English?" "Well, if their from England, Australia, or South Africa they might." "Let's get one where they don't. Let's get one in Japanese." But he settled on L'enfant Sauvage.)