"Before the Army gets us I'm going to sock him one."
- Antoine Doinel (Jean-Pierre Léaud), regarding his teacher
"Your parents say that you lie all the time."--Psychologist to Antoine "I suppose I do, from time to time. So what' When I tell the truth, they don't always believe it anyway--so I prefer to lie."
Cannes 1959 -
Best Director: François Truffaut
Chicago Sun-Times - 08/08/1999
"...THE 400 BLOW's one of the most intensely touching stories ever made about a young adolescent..."
Sight and Sound - 03/01/2003
"Truffaut's autobiographical debut feature introduced one of cinema's greatest anti-heroes to the screen -- 12-year-old Antonie Doinel..."
Premiere - 12/01/2003
"...[A] truly authentic coming-of-age movie....Truffaut helped to usher in the New Wave of French filmmaking..."
Wall Street Journal - 06/03/2011
"Truffaut's debut feature is one of the seminal coming-of-age stories of world cinema..."
Director François Truffaut's first feature film, THE 400 BLOWS, is a landmark in French cinema. Antoine Doinel (Jean-Pierre Léaud) is a 13-year-old boy who can't seem to do anything right. His parents yell at him and then bribe him for his love and his promises to work harder in school. Meanwhile, his schoolteacher is out to get him and blames Antoine for everything--turning him into the class clown. As a result, Antoine runs away from school and his difficult family, living on the streets of Paris and committing petty crimes. While his life on the street is tough, it's much better than dealing with his preoccupied parents and his accusatory teacher. Nonetheless, things only go downhill for Antoine, descending to a simultaneously painful and beautiful conclusion.
A truly impressive film, THE 400 BLOWS is raw, honest, and intensely emotional. Imbued with a strong and complex personality, Antoine maintains his poise and self-confidence, even as he endures abusive treatment from every adult he encounters. René Simonet (Patrick Auffray) is Antoine's one pal, and the unspoken dialogues between the boys, depicted by Truffaut through the boys' facial expressions and with masterful roving photography, allow the viewer to see through Antoine's eyes and understand his unflinching tenacity. Few films have captured the difficulties of childhood as well as this acclaimed French masterpiece. Essentially the start of the French New Wave movement, THE 400 BLOWS is also the beginning of Truffaut's Antoine Doinel cycle, which follows Léaud as Antoine in five additional films over the course of 20 years.
François Truffaut's semiautobiographical feature film debut, THE 400 BLOWS, is one of the French New Wave's most loved and enduring masterpieces. Thirteen-year-old Antoine Doinel tries to cope with the various forces tearing his life apart: his parents' contentious marriage (made worse by the confined space of their apartment), his own lack of interest in school, his desire to live like an adult and have pocket money, and his adolescent desire for freedom. Feeling unloved and unwanted at home, Doinel begins to rebel--only to lose what little he already had.
This film is dedicated to the memory of André Bazin.
THE 400 BLOWS was French New Wave director François Truffaut's first feature film. It won an Academy Award nomination for Best Script, and was a huge success at the Cannes Film Festival, where he won the award for Best Director--a particular triumph for Truffaut, who only a year before had been ignominiously tossed out of the festival for protesting the values of the entrenched French film establishment.
The film's French title, LES QUATRE CENTS COUPS, comes from a colloquial term to describe adolescent rebellion.
Truffaut originally conceived THE 400 BLOWS as a short film entitled LA FUGUE D'ANTOINE (ANTOINE RUNS AWAY), but eventually decided to make it a feature length film.
Jean-Pierre Léaud would reprise his role as Antoine Doinel in four other Truffaut films: LOVE AT TWENTY (1962), STOLEN KISSES (1968), BED & BOARD (1970), and LOVE ON THE RUN (1979). Léaud also went on to star in films by French New Wave director Jean-Luc Godard.
At one point, when Antoine and René (Patrick Auffay) ditch school and run around town, they pull a woman's picture off of a movie poster. The picture is of Harriet Andersson, who starred in Ingmar Bergman's 1952 film MONIKA.
The long tracking shot of Antoine running at the the end of the film is one of the most famous tracking shots in the history of cinema.
Winner of the New York Film Critics Award for Best Foreign Film.