Watch Movie “The 400 Blows” This Weekend On Amazon Prime

The 400 Blows

Seemingly in constant trouble at school, 14-year-old Antoine Doinel returns at the end of every day to a drab, unhappy home life.

His parents have little money and he sleeps on a couch that’s been pushed into the kitchen. His parents bicker constantly and he knows his mother is having an affair.

He decides to skip school and begins a downward spiral of lies and theft. His parents are at their wits’ end, and after he’s stopped by the police, they decide the best thing would be to let Antoine face the consequences.

He’s sent to a juvenile detention facility where he doesn’t do much better. He does manage to escape however.

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Movie Reviews: “The 400 Blows”

Movie Review: Time Out

Write about what you know, they say. So in 1959 François Truffaut, neglected son, passionate reader, delinquent student and cinephile, wrote and filmed one of the first glistening droplets of the French New Wave: ‘The 400 Blows’, in which Antoine Doinel (Jean-Pierre Léaud) demonstrates – unforgettably – that a good brain and bad parents don’t necessarily turn a boy into a talented film director, although they will, one way or another, turn him into a liar.

Antoine is an inept thief who winds up incarcerated; somehow, Truffaut turned this saga into the most joyous experience you could have in the cinema until his ‘Jules et Jim’ three years later.

The beauty of monochrome ’50s Paris helps, but the magic is in observing the thrill even a maltreated child will snatch from a book, a film or a day truanting at a funfair, through the gaze of a former critic whose elation at getting his hands on a camera burbles through every shot.

This debut made Truffaut’s name, and that of his alter ego, Léaud. Like Fellini and Mastroianni or Scorsese and De Niro, theirs was a great collaboration: a sleight of character that conjured up a separate entity with a prettier face and a different ending.

Or is it different? The famous last shot – a zoom to a freeze frame as Antoine flees reform school, truanting again but with better reason – is also a perfect depiction of Truffaut then, en route from nasty past to invisible but promising future. And isn’t that where most of us are? No wonder this film never dates: he was writing about what we all know.

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This month for my blind spot series I finally watched the seminal french new wave film The 400 Blows. Directed by the great Francouis Truffaut I had long heard about this movie but had never seen it. Now that I have I can see why it is such a classic.

The 400 Blows is about a little boy named Antoine who is growing up in the 1950s Paris. His parents don’t care for him and at best placate and put up with him. His teacher at school is constantly scolding him and he is out of place in the world.

In many ways Antoine reminds me of Holden Caulfield in Catcher in the Rye, which was published in 1951. The 400 Blows came out in 1959. However, I prefer Antoine to Holden because his observations are mostly made through quiet staring at those around him where Holden’s dialogue becomes obnoxious.

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Movie Review: LARSEN ON FILM

The 400 Blows suggests that every kid is just a few steps away from delinquency. All it takes is a dismissive parent or an abusive teacher or a needling friend and our worst impulses can hold sway during those formative years.

Antoine Doinel (Jean-Pierre Léaud) unfortunately experiences all three of these unhealthy influences. The affable young hero of Francois Truffaut’s 1959 debut is barely tolerated by his parents in their cramped Parisian apartment; mostly they treat him like a servant. At school, his teacher doles out more punishment than knowledge.

His deskmate, meanwhile, has already learned how to game the system, devising ways to sneak out of school and pawn the property of his own (inattentive) parents.

Not that The 400 Blows is some sort of grim Dickensian tale. Rather, Truffaut imbues the movie with the irrepressible energy and optimism of youth; his camera scampers as it tries to keep up with Antoine and his friends.

At one point, this requires a delightful swish pan that veers from one busy street on which Antoine is running to instantly pick him up as he races down another.

Later, we get a birds-eye view of Antoine’s classmates jogging in unison behind their teacher.

Each time they pass an alley, two or three of them sneakily peel away from the group until their oblivious teacher is left nearly alone.

For Full Movie Review, Click Here.

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