The 400 Blows
The 400 Blows (1959) is the debut feature of French director François Truffaut
. It tells the story of Antoine (Jean-Pierre Léaud
), a mischievous boy in his early teens who, through a series of unfortunate events, encounters increasing difficulties in his life.
Before directing this film, Truffaut had achieved some notoriety as a film critic for the French magazine Cahiers du cinema
. While writing for Cahiers he famously developed the controversial but enduring auteur theory
Since Truffaut was widely considered something of an enfant terrible himself the film is reportedly semi-autobiographical. What struck me as interesting, however, is that Antoine is not really a bad child. Rather, his situation is the product of misfortune and the treatment he receives from his parents. For instance, he initially gets into trouble in school for possessing a photo of a pinup. However, that photo was being passed around the class and Antoine was the unfortunate pupil who was caught with it.
I believe this film easily earns its status as a "great film" and encourage everyone to seek it out. The films of the French New Wave
are often criticized for being cold and pretentious, but I don't see any of that in this film at all. It is a honest and heartfelt portrayal.
The film sits at the #75 position on James Berardinelli's Top 100. His review contains lots of interesting information about the film and is worth a look. It also makes my thoughts redundant, more or less:http://www.reelviews.net/php_review_template.php?identifier=182