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The 400 Blows [DVD]
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Francois Truffaut's semi-autobiographical first feature stars Jean-Pierre Léaud as Antoine Doinel, an unruly young Parisian whose unhappiness leads him into trouble. Frequently running away from school and home, Antoine spends much of his time playing with his friends on the steets of the city; but events take a more serious turn when an accusation of plagiarism leads him to quit school and the theft of a typewriter lands him in trouble with the police.
Director Francois Truffaut's first feature film, The 400 Blows, is a landmark in French cinema. Antoine Doinel (Jean-Pierre Leaud) is a 13-year-old boy who can't seem to do anything right. His parents yell at him and then bribe him for his love and his promises to work harder in school. Meanwhile, his schoolteacher is out to get him and blames Antoine for everything--turning him into the class clown. As a result, Antoine runs away from school and his difficult family, living on the streets of Paris and committing petty crimes. While his life on the street is tough, it's much better than dealing with his preoccupied parents and his accusatory teacher. Nonetheless, things only go downhill for Antoine, descending to a simultaneously painful and beautiful conclusion.
A truly impressive film, The 400 Blows is raw, honest, and intensely emotional. Imbued with a strong and complex personality, Antoine maintains his poise and self-confidence, even as he endures abusive treatment from every adult he encounters. Rene Simonet (Patrick Auffray) is Antoine's one pal, and the unspoken dialogues between the boys, depicted by Truffaut through the boys' facial expressions and with masterful roving photography, allow the viewer to see through Antoine's eyes and understand his unflinching tenacity. Few films have captured the difficulties of childhood as well as this acclaimed French masterpiece. Essentially the start of the French New Wave movement, The 400 Blows is also the beginning of Truffaut's Antoine Doinel cycle, which follows Leaud as Antoine in four additional films over the course of 20 years. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top customer reviews
The messages are shown not told. Parental greed has an innocent sheen. Everywhere: at home, at school, with the law, the woeful forces of 'control.' But the fascinating story also has many gorgeous scenes for us to view. I watched on projection this widescreen film (black bars top and bottom) of late 1950s Paris so packed with life and the kind of street scenes that only come from old black and white films. Somehow more real than colour.
It is a film of today. No film-maker would dare put adults in such a spotlight. Not Loach or Leigh or Polanski. They would have to go to some tabloid extreme to find their hits. Truffaut fills the screen with the kind of truth that is found only in the moment. The moment where you are. Intensified, of course, through the eyes of the young. The scene of a close-up of a mass of very young watching a puppet show says as much about diversion as it does of joy. Pure joy.
I can not fault this blu ray edition. The faintest of faint grain but the kind which does not detract from its often hand-held allure. We have the director to thank for always filling the screen. The Extras seem token but that is not the reason why you should experience this film, this intimate film of many places where a boy nearly grows.
Leaud plays a mischievous, yet normal boy whose mother and father hold an ambivalent relationship towards him. They are not necessarily malevolent people, but they have a misunderstanding towards their son - they represent the majority of parents who fail to nurture their children through society's attitudes and misgivings.
The elegance of the music and direction is so smooth and heightens the profound nature of the story. Truffaut's style has been plagiarised by so many great directors from Scorsese to Altman to Paul Thomas Anderson, its flowing and oozing sentiment.
If you don't like crying or being touched then definitely don't watch this film. Its sensitive, stirring and sincere. It pulls slowly yet cleverely at your heartstrings without brusque devices. Also, this film is proof that you can find very talented children that can act - unlike the awful child fodder poured out today.
Don't hesitate to buy this film, whatever the price!
The screenplay was written by Truffaut (with dialogs by Marcel Moussy). Les 400 coups is a semi-autobiographic film. Just like Antoine Doinel, also Truffaut hated school, loved cinema, had parents who hardly were at home, and was in jail for theft.
Jean-Pierre Léaud was Truffaut’s alter-ego and played Antoine Doinel in 4 more movies: Antoine et Colette (one of the 5 short stories of L’amour à vingt ans, 1962), Baisers volés (1968), Domicile conjugal (1970), and L’amour en fuite (1979).
Antoine’s scenes with the psychologist (where we only see Antoine) were the most important scenes for Truffaut. The answers were improvised by Léaud. Truffaut gave Léáud some clues before, but the lines are Léaud’s. Léaud’s performance is breathtaking and amazingly natural.
A few days ago I was trying to figure out who Jean-Pierre Léaud reminds of in his role of Antoine Doinel. He reminded me of another boy from another movie, another talented young actor, but I couldn’t find out who it was. Suddenly, I thought of the young Christian Bale in his role of Jim in Empire of the Sun (1987): same sad glance, same lost innocence… don’t both actors have indeed a similar touch?Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
My favourite film. Guaranteed to have you in tears at the end. Love itPublished 13 months ago by J Carter Woodrow
*** Review of film only, not disc release.
I watched this film at the cinema and found it so good I will be ordering a version on disc to watch again. Read more
An outstanding remastering from Criterion as usual, absolutely beautiful. You can read reviews of the film itself elsewhere, this is just a quick review of the Criterion release... Read morePublished 23 months ago by N. M. Fletcher
What a disappointment this was.all I can say is. ...I wasted my time and money.
I can use the dvd as a cup mat.