The 400 Blows

The 400 Blows

classified PG S

Please note: This was screened in Feb 2022

François Truffaut
Jean-Pierre Léaud, Claire Maurier, Albert Rémy, Guy Decomble, Georges Flamant
100 mins, Subtitled, 1959, France
Primary language

An early classic of the French New Wave and possibly cinema’s defining masterpiece of disaffected youth, François Truffaut’s directorial debut The 400 Blows returns in a stunning 4K restoration.

This is the first in a cycle of four films that Truffaut eventually went on to direct that follow the life of Antoine Doinel (Jean-Pierre Léaud). In The 400 Blows, the 13-year-old Antoine is forever getting into trouble at school, misunderstood by his teachers and parents. The only way he can seek refuge from the daily grind is by playing truant, sneaking into the local cinema and hoping for the day he can leave the classroom behind.

Capturing youth on the very edge of change, The 400 Blows demands to be rediscovered all over again, fifty years on from its initial, triumphant release.

The film’s French title actually means ‘raising hell’, and Antoine’s rebellion against rigid social norms, breaking out from the confinement of stifling classrooms or his parents’ cramped flat, is exhilaratingly captured in Henri Decaë’s lyrical location shooting on the streets of Paris.