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At-A-Glance Film Reviews

The 400 Blows (1959)



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Francois Truffaut had been writing about film throughout much of the 1950s. Among his writings were theories about how films should be made. With The 400 Blows, he put those theories into practice and produced the first film of the French New Wave and a timeless classic.

The 400 Blows tells the story of 13 year old Antoine Doinel, an ordinary, precocious child from a home where he is loved, but not well. The film recounts Antoine's search for identity and freedom with heartfelt perception. It's a semi-autobiographical story for Truffaut, some of the story matching episodes in his own life, which probably explains why the film feels so authentic and true to human nature.

The closing shot is a famous one, a freeze-zoom at the moment Antoine finds the symbolic end to his quest. What do you see in that expression?

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