Sunday 6 July 2008

The 400 Blows (Les 400 Coups) [1959]

The 400 Blows was the movie that, along with Breathless, literally kick-started the audacious and revolutionary Nouvelle Vague (the French New Wave) film movement. Like his equally celebrated contemporaries (Goddard, Chabrol et al), Francois Truffaut, a former film critic at Cashiers Du Cinema, left his desk job and entered cinema’s pantheon of legends with his seminal debut feature. This semi-autobiographical tale (drawn heavily from the life of the filmmaker) chronicles the troubled adolescence of Antoine Doinel, a rebellious and perennially misunderstood teenager with equally troubled parents, who prefers freedom and cinema over discipline and school-life. The lyrical storytelling, a nostalgic look at lost innocence and enduring friendship, and a poetic depiction of the city of Paris, Truffaut’s black-and-white masterpiece is an evocative and a loving homage to growing up. Though Antoine Doinel would keep returning in a series of features later, each depicting a phase of his life, The 400 Blows doesn’t just remain the best of the lot, it was also one of the few movies that had a profound and lasting effect on the entire word of cinema. And the freeze frame, that forms the parting shot for the film, remains a legendary icon of world cinema.

Note: My recent review of the film can be found here.

Director: Francois Truffaut
Genre: Drama/Urban Drama/Coming-of-Age/Buddy Film
Language: French
Country: France


Ed Howard said...

Yeah, this is a great film, probably the best Truffaut ever made. It's deeply inspired by Jean Vigo's Zero For Conduct, a very similar nostalgic ode to rebellious youth -- and an even better one, if you ask me.

Shubhajit said...

I would gladly second your views. i haven't seen the Vigo classic you mentioned, but i'm sure very few movies in general & on teengers in particular can aspire to be as good as this one.