Les Quatre Cents Coups/The 400 Blows | Teen Ink

Les Quatre Cents Coups/The 400 Blows

May 18, 2014
By normgrl GOLD, Jacksonville, Florida
normgrl GOLD, Jacksonville, Florida
13 articles 11 photos 105 comments

Favorite Quote:
Do we eat to live or live to eat?

Francois Truffaut's Les 400 Coups is a crime and drana filled film released in November 1959 as one of the first few created during thr French New Wave. The film starred Jean-Pierre Leaud as the rebellious Antoine Doinel, Claire Maurier as Doinel's slave-driver-like mother, Albert Remy as Doinel's partner-in-crime Rene. Overall, I think that the film was able to portray the adolescent phase without the need to sugar-coat certain details - like commonly seen in many Hollywood films. Also,what I fond most ineteresting about this particular movie is the fact that it resembles the childhood of its director, Truffaut, through the protagonist Antoine Doinel.

The film centers around the life of young Antoine Doinel, who from the beginning of the movie, was portrayed as a juvenile - however, throughout the film, one who realizes that the young man's actions are the consequences of the way he was nurtured and therefore are reflections of the inflnce of his environment and those in his life. It's safe to say that his rebellious attitude stems from two main factors: his quarreling parents and low self-esteem. The latter can be determined in the way people in general regard him - especially his instructors. These factors then lead to the protagonist's growing tendency to "lie, cheat, and steal", ultimately leading to his night in jail and enrollment in a disciplinary program. I personally thought that the great involvement of the adults within the adolescent's life - and hence, their significant role in the film; brought a more realistic feeling into the movie...believable...and therefore, relatable to a majority of the audience.

Regarding the actors, Jean-Pierre Leaud (Antoine), though still young at the time, was able to naturally play his roe as a rebel and reacted well to the dramatic situations that his character experienced in the film. Honestly, I found all of the characters believable - I suppose if one thinks within the time period the film was produced, then the conditions introduced (harsh treatment and involvement of both parents and school instructors, the seemingly lack of hope for the new generation, and the growing racial youth) makes much more sense.

Something siificant that must be pointed out are the film techniques that Truffaut utilized. Considering the fact that this was created under the new concept of the French New Wave, it's apparent that it has "fairly crude editing" and, of course, was filmed on-location - different even compared to films of modern time which are known for studio filming. The style of editing did not greatly affect the film iitself, however, some techniques that greatly contributed to the film includes the mise-en-scene at the beginning of the film in which the director allowed the audience to recognize the setting of Paris, France through the use of the Eiffel Tower.

The director was able to effectively deliver three topics within The 400 Blows: adolescent's lack of self-esteem, rise of the radical youth, and the effects of nature and nurture.

Though Les Quatre Cents Coups was created in black-and-white, I believe that compared to Hollywood films centered on young adults, this film was able to depict the life of a young person in a way that seemed believable and relatable to its audience. If one was to see the film, I have no doubt that it will be greatly enjoyed and appreciated because of the aforementioned elements - and more importantly, HOW they were used throughout the film.

The author's comments:
I initially wrote this piece for my Film Studies class after seeing Truffaut's film -- this is the first film review I ever wrote for the class. I think that Les 400 Coups was the first film we wahed in that class, and it honestly sparked my interest in films of the early 1900s.

I did not want to choose an image to go along with the review because I didn't think I would be able to find an image that could truly capture everything this film had to offer. However, the image was required, so i tried my best to find one. The image that I chose reminded me of the final scene of the film and how the water to have been a sense of hope and newly found independence.

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This article has 1 comment.

Osiris M said...
on May. 24 2014 at 6:42 pm
I was very much enthralled by the author's description of the film which acknowledged the depth of the director's vision when making the film. Examples to ilustrate the argument were astounding, and normgirl's point to involve the director heavily in her article was clever. I am definitely interested in hearing more from you normgirl :)