Story of Adele H, The (1975): Truffaut’s Tale of Victor Hugo’s Daughter, Starring Isabelle Adjani in Oscar Nominated Performance

Francois Truffaut’s “The Story of Adele H,” arguably his last masterpiece, is the tragic-comic tale of a young woman, the second daughter of French novelist and patriot Victor Hugo, obsessed with a soldier who doesn’t return her love.


A Truffaut movie to rank with his most accomplished and passionate works, such as “The 400 Blows” and “Jules and Jim,” “The Story of Adele H” is an understated, but also frightening, drama in its exploration of a romantic love that is “fulfilled” by self-destruction.


Visual consistency provided by ace cinematographer Nestor Almendros enables Truffaut to achieve a new level of concentration in a movie that is an in-depth psychological study of a single character on the verge of madness and destruction. 


Surprisingly, the movie is also disharmoniously funny, a style which Truffaut has never attempted before. The authentic script is, co-penned by Truffaut, based on the journals of Adele H, which she wrote in code and were deciphered in 1955, and meticulous research of the era.


The title role is played by the prodigious young actress Isabelle Adjani, all of 20, who received a well-deserved Oscar nomination for her powerful portrayal.


Oscar Alert


Actress: Isabelle Adjani


Oscar Context


The winner of the Best Actress was Louise Fletcher for Milos Forman’s “One Flew Over the Cukoo’s Nest,” which swept the major Oscars in 1975.


Running Time: 97 minutes