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The 400 Blows

Jean-Pierre Léaud , Albert Rémy , François Truffaut    VHS Tape
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)

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Francois Truffaut's first feature was this 1959 portrait of Antoine Doinel (Jean-Pierre Léaud), a boy who turns to petty crime in the face of neglect at home and hard times at a reform school. Somewhat autobiographical for its director, the film helped usher in the heady spirit of the French New Wave, and introduced the Doinel character, who became a fixture in Truffaut's movies over the years. Poignant, exhilarating, and fun (there's a parade of cameo appearances from some of the essential icons and directors from the movement), this film is an important classic. --Tom Keogh

Special Features

High-definition digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray. Two audio commentaries, one by cinema professor Brian Stonehill and another by Franc¸ois Truffaut’s lifelong friend Robert Lachenay. Rare audition footage of Jean-Pierre Le´aud, Patrick Auffay, and Richard Kanayan. Newsreel footage of Le´aud at Cannes in 1959. Excerpt from a 1965 French television program in which Truffaut discusses his youth, his critical writing, and the origins of Antoine Doinel. Television interview with Truffaut from 1960 about the global reception of The 400 Blows and his own critical impression of the film, trailer, PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by film scholar Annette Insdorf.

Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A raw look at the life of a troubled boy June 15 2006
By Kona TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:DVD
"The 400 Blows" is the famous 1959 film by New Wave director, Francois Truffaut. (The title is a French expression meaning "to raise 'heck'.") Filmed in black and white, with very simple music and the raw look of a low-budget documentary, it is a glimpse into the life of troubled adolescent. Antoine Doinel is poor, has cold and indifferent parents and teachers, and spends his days cutting school and getting into trouble. When his parents give up on him, he is sent to a juvenile detention facility that resembles a jail.

The cinema verite style of unsentimental photography and gritty locales manages to make even Paris look tawdry, almost ugly, because that's how Antoine views his life. Growing up neglected and misunderstood has made him a streetwise child who dreams of escape. The stark and sudden ending allows the viewer to decide what might happen to Antoine next (although Truffaut found the character so intriguing, he made three more movies about Antoine as he grows older).
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The quintessential film of the New Wave May 7 2004
Format:DVD
Since the first images you stan by literally caught by the huge poetry who emerges. The sad opening theme with a cloudy Paris as frame gives us a striking clue about the film explores.
With the amazing exception of Forbidden games (Rene Clement) never before a movie had drown in the child's universe like these two films.
Truffaut is far from making a statement. His camera simply spies the emotive familiar nucleus of this nice guy and the terrible troubles generated by his own parents.
We laugh, and cry with the disventures and irreverent madness made outschool. The portrait of Balzac burning is a high point in the picture. It's a long journey in the world of this child that well might be you and me if...
The plot is very organilcal, and the final sequence is brethtaking.
Hopeless and a sense of desperation seems surrounding us when you watch by the last time to our youn boy.
Forget about all the films that followed to this one in the New Wave, like Breathless, les cousins, or Jules and Jim of Truffaut also.
This is the gem of the New Wave cinema.
In memory of the great Andre Bazin, the creator of the Cahiers du cinema.
A must for everyone.
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Format:DVD
Truffaut's childhood retrospective remains a powerful film today. While some of the parts describing standard childhood defiance are a bit drawn out, they are presented with a winning tone and with the details necessary to make them convincing. Additionally, by focusing so much on standard defiance, we are somewhat unprepared as the darker aspects are gradually revealed. We see how precarious our paths can be. Truffaut has by then duped us into being emotionally concerned about the lead character, who's alienation and detachment are captured with (of all things) tenderness and innocence by Jean Pierre Liaud. Truffaut's brilliance is that he makes us feel for this character without having to resort to any sentimentality beyond that of his own memory. Our need for love, and the benefits of a stable home are shown here to be as irrefutable as gravity or the tides.
I did feel that the last parts of the film could have been shortened or eliminated (such as the police station and the correctional facility), but the final scene was very powerful. Having reached the end, there is nowhere else to run. The protagonist must decide whether to act, i.e. to try to 'grow up' and face his demons. The fatalistic alternative is to continue down his current path, which while perhaps justifiable given his background, can nevertheless only lead to despair. But if one truly encorporates the idea of free-will into their life, perhaps the future is not so precarious after all.
Other pluses here are perhaps the most beautiful depiction of Paris in all of film history (quite a statement, I know), as well as some incredible shots. My favorite is definitely how he captures the universality and otherness of childhood innocence during the puppet show.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Classic film about childhood July 28 2002
Format:DVD
Anyone interested in Francois Truffaut or the French New Wave could scarcely do better than to start here. Unlike some other classic films, one doesn't need to be a film buff to enjoy this. One only has to like good films.
Jean-Pierre Leaud is terrific as Antoine Doinel, a lonely Parisian boy who lives with his neglectful mother and flaky step-father. At school, Doinel has become a target of wrath for his sadistic English teacher. Doinel begins to hang out more and more with his deliquent friend. Together, they skip school, go to the amusement park, and watch films (the young Truffaut was an avid movie watcher).
Truffaut's Paris is certainly not a friendly place for children. Parents are neglectful and teachers are more interested in bringing students into line than in teaching. Indeed Doinel's English teacher seems to believe in harsh punishments over the most minor offense. The more the world tries to bring Doinel into line, the more he is compelled to rebel. Finally, Doinel steals a typewriter to be pawned to pay for his escape from home. Having a change of conscience, he tries to returns it, but is caught and sent to a home for juvenile delinquents.
Truffaut directs this semi-autobiographaphical film with great feeling, showing us the humor, triumph, and most of all sadness of his tragic childhood. The widescreen black & white photography of Paris is beautiful so be sure to see this letterboxed.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars One of the best stories about childhood
Directed by Francois Truffaut
Starring Jean-Pierre Léaud, Claire Maurier, Albert Rémy and Guy Decomble
99 minutes
Black and white - French... Read more
Published on Jan. 10 2011 by Steven Aldersley
5.0 out of 5 stars 400 Blows
I've spent decades avoiding THE 400 BLOWS, afraid it was either dark and brooding, or a documentation of child abuse (physical and/or emotional), or an angry and vindictive assault... Read more
Published on May 11 2004 by Steven Hellerstedt
1.0 out of 5 stars Not a very good movie.
I don't mind slow movies, but this movie is slow + boring and 100% predictable. In my opinion, it's terrible.
Published on March 11 2004 by Rafael Jimenez
4.0 out of 5 stars Another great Criterion release
This is a review for the Criterion Collection version.
This is a great film and Truffaut based it loosely on his childhood. It's populatity also spawned numerous sequels. Read more
Published on Feb. 24 2004 by Ted
5.0 out of 5 stars Truffaut brings out a brilliant cinematic experience...
Antoine Doinel lives in a family where the parents are preoccupied with their own existence and therefore parental supervision is lacking. Read more
Published on Jan. 19 2004 by Kim Anehall
2.0 out of 5 stars "Not everybody has a tongue like yours."
Adolescence is a difficult time for any child. It does not matter where you grow up or in what era. Read more
Published on Nov. 16 2003 by Steven Y.
5.0 out of 5 stars An Amazing Film That Supassed My High Expectations
I just saw this recently, and it is one of the best films I've seen in a very long time. Beautifully photographed, written, and directed. Read more
Published on July 1 2003
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Personal and Touching Film
Much has been said by many brilliant critics about this now-legendary film. It typically makes every reviewer's favorite movies of all-time list. Read more
Published on May 26 2003 by E. Dolnack
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic Truffaut
This film is a masterpiece, in that the images last a lifetime. The story develops at a steady pace about a boy growing up in Paris, and tracks the stages downward as he falls into... Read more
Published on Aug. 20 2002 by nick minorsky
5.0 out of 5 stars one of the best films ever!
I saw this a long time ago, not really knowing what is was all about. Man was i surprised. This has got to be the pinnacle of all boy (man) against world films. Read more
Published on July 31 2002 by Robert Imes
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