François Truffaut’s first feature, The 400 Blows (Les quatre cents coups), is also his most personal. Told through the eyes of Truffaut’s life-long cinematic counterpart, Antoine Doinel (Jean-Pierre Léaud), The 400 Blows sensitively re-creates the trials of Truffaut’s own difficult childhood, unsentimentally portraying aloof parents, oppressive teachers, petty crime, and a friendship that would last a lifetime. The film marks Truffaut’s passage from leading critic of the French New Wave to his emergence as one of Europe’s most brilliant auteurs. —The Criterion Collection
The product of an unhappy, loveless home, Truffaut began using films to escape the exigencies of reality at age seven, virtually living in various Parisian movie houses. He left school to go to work at 14, and, one year later, founded a film club, which brought him to the attention of influential cinema critic Andre Bazin. Over the next few years, Bazin both financed and protected Truffaut. In 1953, Bazin hired Truffaut as a critic/essayist for Cahiers du Cinema. It was in the January 1954 edition that Truffaut published his landmark essay “A Certain Tendency in the French Cinema,” in which he attacked directors who merely ground out films without any personal cinematic vision; he also propounded the auteur theory, which opined that the only directors worth serious consideration were those who left their own individual signatures on each of their films. Truffaut noted that writing critiques enabled him to understand why he loved films and to rationalize his reasons for liking them… read more
Francois Truffaut, Tsai Ming-liang, and the “reverberation, ambiguity and suggestiveness” of the cinephiliac writerly impulse of “the move.”
New Senses of Cinema, a Nick Ray doc Kickstarter, Truffaut’s alternate titles for The 400 Blows, Stan Brakhage lectures & more.
On the week François Truffaut would have turned 80, we look back at the posters for his first film.
“The drive went into the filmmaking, in an effort to render an image of that fleeting apparition known as human experience.”
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From December 15 through 22, The Auteurs and Stella Artois will be presenting to viewers over 18 in the UK a daily series of French
The 400 Blows captures the world of a troubled adolescent in a manner that was vibrant, fresh, and thrilling for audiences viewing this seminal film in 1959. For the contemporary viewer with a receptive… read review
This is an important film to watch. It’s important for multiple reasons, and not the least of all being Truffaut’s awe-inspiring camera work. It may be in black and white, but these shots have color… read review
Let’s just assume that the Nouvelle Vague was all about youth, being fresh and new? I find that Les 400 Coups most fully captures this spirit. No matter of its relative subtlety to pictures like Adieu… read review