Every film from Roger Ebert's "Great Movies" essays.
The 400 Blows
Angel faces hell-bent for violence.
Intensely touching story of a misunderstood young adolescent who left without attention, delves into a life of petty crime.
"I need some money for lunch, dad. Only 1,000 francs."
"Therefore you hope for 500. Therefore you need 300. Here's 100."
#100 on Berken's Favorite Movies Of All Time
As a standalone - 4/5
As the "pilot episode" of Francois Truffaut's series of movies starring the character Antoine Doinel, introduced here - 4.5/5
(Granted, I haven't seen the other Doinel movies yet, but this one got me genuinely excited to see more of what the character becomes and encounters, which is the most important thing a first entry in a series can do.)
Some scattered thoughts:
1. Just between the quietly thoughtful 400 Blows and Jean-Luc Godard's beautifully unhinged Breathless, it's already clear to me that the French New Wave…
The 400 Blows has resonated strongly with people over the past 50 years, because it is a film everyone can relate to. A troubled adolescence is something most people have more or less lived through and as such Antoine's struggles with family and school really hit home. He's a kind kid who as a result of being constantly pushed around by the adults around him (and even a fellow classmate) delves into a life of petty crime and rebellion against authorities. Everything that happens to him over the course of the film could've been avoided had someone simply listened to him or just paid attention to him. Due to not being able to finish his homework his fear of going…
Part of Lise and Jonnie’s What A Wonderful World: May 30 days, 30 countries.
I came out of this morning’s screening of The 400 Blows rather cold and unaffected. It’s not that I didn’t like it or appreciate its style; it’s just that I didn’t have any feeling for Antoine. A few hours have passed now, and I think that may be exactly what Truffaut wanted me to feel, or not feel.
The young Jean-Pierre Leaud gave a brilliant, unaffected, performance. His character never asked for sympathy. When he was recounting his childhood to the psychologist near the end of the film, his delivery was very matter of fact. Absence of malice. At the beginning of the film we…
Truffaut is a master of composition, I'll tell you that. The way that the images move just feels so...right. Maybe this is because The 400 Blows utilizes the widescreen format to set up the geography of the spaces, without falling back on two-dimensional establishing shots. When the camera moves, we move right with it.
There's a moment in here, where Antoine Doinel, played wonderfully Jean-Pierre Léaud, is with his stepfather, probably having some sorta mundane conversation, but Antoine is clearly pained internally. When the stepfather exits the frame, Léaud lets the pretenses drop from his face, as Truffaut's camera sets into a steady pan forward into Antoine's face, bringing us into an understated but emotionally effective close-up. Just then, the…
Την Κυριακή, μια πιτσιρίκα τσιγγάνα μάς ζήτησε τσιγάρο. Μην της δώσεις, είναι παιδί, είπα στη Ντίνα. Ο Antoine Doinel κάπνιζε στην ηλικία της, μου απάντησε.
Όλα τα αστεράκια του κόσμου, για τα τσιγάρα που έχω καπνίσει ξαναξαναξαναβλέποντας αυτή την ταινία.
I enjoyed my second Francois Truffaut film more than my first, which was Jules et Jim. The 400 Blows doesn't seem as experimental in form or controversial in subject matter, but it is much more deeply felt and personal. It's essentially a semi-auto-biographical character study of a young guy who will probably turn his angsty childhood into tortured artistic success later on. I especially liked the wordless sequences where you feel the crushing weight of Antoine Doinel's loneliness and self-reliance. It makes perfect sense that he acts out with petty thievery and mean-spirited pranks given how difficult his home life is. There were multiple times when I wanted to…
Immer wenn Antoine am Ende flieht - weg von den Menschen, weg von der Gesellschaft, weg von diesem Gefängnis, hin zum Meer, und wenn dann die Kamera sich immer weiter weg bewegt von Allem, immer weiter hinaus, immer mehr Freiheit bietet, aber auch mehr Leere - dann verstehen wir kurz, was Kindheit ist.
A quiet, contemplative look at the life of adolescense, the new and burgeoning demographic of individuals that were springing to life as comfort, growth, and economic and social reforms reshaped the landscape for children and teenagers the world over.
The 400 Blows focuses itself on the institutions and individuals that shape youth, as teen angst is discussed as a dialectic between the desire for freedom and the displaced, unsure timidness of youth grows and expands beyond its simple controls and, more provocatively, beyond the control of the establishment and the adults that oversee it.
Truffaut's camera does some great work in this film, establishing a movement we didn't know could exist but now couldn't imagine living without.
Beautifully shot, brilliantly acted and a relateable plot. Felt a lot more modern than its release date would suggest. The success of this movie hinged on the success of the lead performance which, in this case, was terrific.
French New Wave Month:
For a first time film maker who was very critical of every other film maker at the time, this was a very bold move to base your first film on your own life and how your parents, or anybody, didn't want you around.
It's slow in places but the lead character is brilliant and the scenery and moments of silence speak more than the heavy dialogue drive scenes at times.
This film is very entertaining and surprisingly funny. I feel like this is the beginning of a long journey deep into French new wave, which I am completely OK with.
I'm not sure how to feel about this one. It's certainly miles better than Jules and Jim, the only other Truffaut film I've seen, but it left me feeling pretty unsatisfied. It has a strange emotional center, as the character of Antoine seems oddly innocent but hardly victimized throughout the entire movie. This gives the flick a weirdly nostalgic feel -- weird because the circumstances surrounding the character's life and actions are hardly something I'd imagine someone would feel nostalgic *for*.
The first half is filled with charming coming-of-age-movie type moments that made me smile, such as when he tells his teacher that he wasn't at school the day before because his mother died. As things get darker and worse…
Why did my parents never take me to see Paris is Ours?
There isn't one aspect of The 400 Blows that I can pinpoint as my reason for liking it. It's simply a well made film with a wonderful portrayal of a youth in turmoil. I'm glad I finally watched it, but yet again I think I may have built up some sort of unobtainable hype for what I expected this to be. If I were to take all historical considerations out of it and simply rate this film on its own merits (as if it were made today), this would probably fair in the 2.5-3 star range. Everything is fine here...but I fail to see anything THAT amazing worth swooning over. I still enjoyed the film, hence the 3.5 star review,…
Good movie, but kind of insubstantial apart from the spectacular lead performance by Jean-Pierre Léaud. It's not that I dislike slice-of-life stories about wayward adolescents (Ghost World is one of my favorite movies of all time), but this one was so straightforward and unadorned it didn't really capture me. It's pretty much just a little punk getting into progressively worse trouble for ninety minutes. An extremely well-acted and believable little punk, but still, I was hoping for a little more from such an acclaimed film—a little more subtlety in the portrayal of the adult characters, perhaps, or a little more thematic complexity, or even just slightly more memorable episodes. All in all, I didn't actively dislike anything about this movie, it just didn't leave a strong impression. Maybe now that I know what to expect, I'd gain a greater appreciation for the film on a second watch.
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