HomeEntertainment‘The 400 Blows,’ a Directing Debut That Still Astonishes

‘The 400 Blows,’ a Directing Debut That Still Astonishes

One of the spectacular debuts in movie historical past, François Truffaut’s “The 400 Blows” created a sensation on the 1959 Cannes Movie Pageant and elsewhere. It was voted the perfect international movie of the yr by New York movie critics — a film that “brilliantly and strikingly reveals the explosion of a contemporary inventive expertise,” Bosley Crowther wrote in The New York Occasions.

Displaying for 2 weeks at Movie Discussion board in a brand new 4K restoration, the film is just not solely essential to 1’s movie training however properly value revisiting.

“Amazingly, this vigorous effort is the primary characteristic movie of M. Truffaut, who had beforehand been (of all issues!) the film critic for a French journal,” Crowther famous. As a critic, Truffaut was significantly harsh on French “high quality” movies — a lot in order that Cannes denied him accreditation in 1958. Revenge was swift when he returned the next yr and gained the award for finest director. (Marcel Camus’s “Black Orpheus” acquired the Palme d’Or. The third French movie in competitors, Alain Resnais’s “Hiroshima Mon Amour,” got here up empty.)

“The 400 Blows” has two stars. One is the then-14-year-old Jean-Pierre Léaud, who performs Truffaut’s alter ego, Antoine Doinel, and thus started a profession because the embodiment of the French new wave. The opposite is the town of Paris — grey, dirty and wonderful — the sector for Antoine’s fleeting joys and petty crimes.

Antoine is an undesirable little one, as was Truffaut. Punished by his instructor, rejected by his self-centered mom (Claire Maurier), he performs hooky, runs away from house, steals a typewriter, will get busted attempting to return it, is booked by the cops and winds up in reform faculty. The film is stuffed with precise incidents from Truffaut’s childhood, together with his fabricating his mom’s dying as an excuse for truancy. Few motion pictures have been so private.

“The 400 Blows” is devoted to the critic André Bazin, Truffaut’s mentor, who died simply because the film started capturing. The early scenes of the boy’s classroom misadventures strongly recall “Zero de Conduite,” the 1933 sendup of French training, directed by Truffaut’s nice affect, Jean Vigo. There are different, extra inside references, together with the unlikely notion that Antoine’s dad and mom may see a quasi-underground work-in-progress by Truffaut’s colleague Jacques Rivette, “Paris Belongs to Us.”

“The 400 Blows” is a landmark movie for a number of causes. It was seemingly the primary overtly autobiographical industrial characteristic, and as such brought about Truffaut’s dad and mom appreciable misery. It additionally launched one of many ’60s most resilient clichés — the concluding freeze-frame close-up. Truffaut bought the thought from Harriet Andersson’s accusatory stare on the finish of Ingmar Bergman’s “Summer season with Monika” (as famous when Antoine steals a foyer card of Andersson’s “Monika.”) However constructing on the wistful chorus that runs all through, “The 400 Blows” ends on a be aware of disappointment all its personal.

Truffaut and Leaud returned a number of occasions to the character of Antoine Doinel. Movie Discussion board is exhibiting “The 400 Blows” with rotating screenings of later movies like “Stolen Kisses” and “Love on the Run.” The character survives and even thrives. But it’s the heartbreaking final shot of “The 400 Blows” that can repair his id for so long as there are motion pictures.

The 4 Hundred Blows

Sept. 23 by way of Oct. 6 at Movie Discussion board in Manhattan; filmforum.org

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