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

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François Truffaut’s one of the most memorable debuts in cinema history. “400 hits” It caused a sensation at the 1959 Cannes Film Festival. Bosley Crowther was named by New York Film Critics as the best foreign film of the year in The New York Times, a film that “brilliantly and remarkably revealed an explosion of fresh creative talent” .

screened for 2 weeks at Film Forum with New 4K Restorationfilms are not only essential to one’s film education, but are worth revisiting.

“Remarkably, this strenuous effort is the first feature film of M. Truffaut, who was a film critic for a French magazine,” Crowther said. As a critic, Truffaut was particularly harsh on French “quality” films. Therefore, in 1958 Cannes refused to recognize him. Revenge was swift when he returned the following year and won the Best Director award. (Marcel Camus’ “Black Orphée” won the Palme d’Or. His third competition, the French film “Hiroshima Mon Amour” by Alain Resnais, was empty.)

“The 400 Blows” has two stars. One was the then 14-year-old Jean-Pierre Léaud, who played Truffaut’s alter ego Antoine Doinel and started his career as the embodiment of the French New He wave. Another of his is the grey, dirty and glorious city of Paris, the setting for Antoine’s fleeting pleasures and petty crimes.

Antoine, like Truffaut, is an unwanted child. Punished by his teacher and rejected by his self-centered mother (Claire Maurier), he goes crazy, runs away from home, steals a typewriter, is arrested for returning it, is booked by the police, and is sent to reform school. The film is filled with real-life incidents from Truffaut’s childhood, including faking his mother’s death as an excuse for not attending school. Few movies are so personal.

“The 400 Blows” is dedicated to Truffaut’s mentor and critic André Bazin, who died just as the film began shooting. An early scene of the unfortunate events in the boy’s classroom is strongly reminiscent of his 1933 French educational show, Zero de Conduite, directed by Jean Vigo, a great influence of Truffaut. Other inside references, such as the improbable idea that Antoine’s parents might see the semi-underground work “Paris Belongs to Us” by Truffaut’s colleague Jacques Rivette. there is.

There are several reasons why ‘The 400 Blows’ is a groundbreaking film. It was arguably the first openly autobiographical commercial work, and as such caused considerable distress to Truffaut’s parents, as well as one of the most resilient clichés of the 1960s: the final frieze of his I also introduced a close-up of the frame of. Truffaut was inspired by Harriet Anderson’s accusatory stare at the end of Ingmar Bergman’s “Summer with Monica” (pointed out when Antoine stole Anderson’s “Monica” lobby card). ).

Truffaut and Leo returned to the role of Antoine Doinel on several occasions. The Film Forum is showing “The 400 Blows,” a series of later films like “The Stolen Kiss” and “Love on the Run.” Characters survive and even thrive. Still, it’s the heartbreaking final shot of “The 400 Blows” that sticks his identity for as long as the film is.

four hundred blows

September 23rd to October 6th at the Film Forum in Manhattan. filmforum.org

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