The 400 Blows

(Les quatre cents coups)
France 1959. Dir: François Truffaut. 99 min. DCP

One of cinema’s most celebrated debuts, and one of the breakthrough works of the French New Wave, François Truffaut’s semi-autobiographical first feature won Best Director honours at Cannes in 1959. A year before, Truffaut the film critic had been barred from the festival for the ferocity of his Cahiers du cinéma reviews! A young Jean-Pierre Léaud (soon Truffaut’s regular on-screen alter ego) makes his own memorable debut as Antoine Doinel, a troubled 12-year-old in revolt against parents and school. The film is dedicated to Truffaut’s mentor André Bazin. Several scenes pay tribute to Jean Vigo’s 1933 classic Zéro de conduite. The 400 Blows was also the first instalment in the director’s much-loved Antoine Doinel cycle, which grew to include five films, each starring Léaud. “Its lyrically realistic and totally unsentimental portrait of adolescence has never been matched in the cinema” (Georges Sadoul).


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The 400 Blows screens in a double bill with Truffaut's much-loved third feature, Jules and Jim.

 

REVIEWS

★★★★ "One of the most intensely touching stories ever made about a young adolescent ... The 400 Blows, with all its simplicity and feeling, is in a class by itself."

Roger Ebert | full review

"A small masterpiece ... Here is a picture that encourages an exciting refreshment of faith in films."

New York Times | full review