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|The 400 Blows|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||François Truffaut|
|Music by||Jean Constantin|
|Edited by||Marie-Josèphe Yoyotte|
Les Films du Carrosse
|Box office||$30.7 million|
The 400 Blows (French: Les Quatre Cents Coups) is a 1959 French New Wave drama film, and the directorial debut of François Truffaut. The film, shot in DyaliScope, stars Jean-Pierre Léaud, Albert Rémy, and Claire Maurier. One of the defining films of the French New Wave, it displays many of the characteristic traits of the movement. Written by Truffaut and Marcel Moussy, the film is about Antoine Doinel, a misunderstood adolescent in Paris who struggles with his parents and teachers due to his rebellious behavior. Filmed on location in Paris and Honfleur, it is the first in a series of five films in which Léaud plays the semi-autobiographical character.
The 400 Blows received numerous awards and nominations, including the Cannes Film Festival Award for Best Director, the OCIC Award, and a Palme d'Or nomination in 1959, and was also nominated for an Oscar for Best Writing in 1960. The film had 4.1 million admissions in France, making it Truffaut's most successful film in his home country.
Antoine Doinel is a young boy growing up in Paris during the 1950s. Misunderstood by his parents for playing truant from school and stealing, and tormented in school for discipline problems by his teacher (Antoine falsely explains his absence was due to his mother's death), Antoine frequently runs away from both places. He finally quits school after his teacher catches him plagiarizing Balzac. He steals a Remington typewriter from his stepfather's workplace to finance his plans to leave home, but is apprehended while trying to return it.
The stepfather turns Antoine over to the police and Antoine spends the night in jail, sharing a cell with prostitutes and thieves. During an interview with the judge, Antoine's mother confesses that her husband is not Antoine's biological father. Antoine is placed in an observation center for troubled youths near the seashore (as his mother wished). A psychologist at the center probes reasons for Antoine's unhappiness, which the youth reveals in a fragmented series of monologues.
While playing football with the other boys one day, Antoine escapes under a fence and runs away to the ocean, which he has always wanted to see. He reaches the shoreline of the sea and runs into it. The film concludes with a freeze-frame of Antoine, and the camera optically zooms in on his face, looking into the camera.
Truffaut also included a number of friends (fellow directors) in bit or background parts, including: himself and Philippe De Broca in the funfair scene; Jacques Demy as a policeman; Jean-Luc Godard and Jean-Paul Belmondo as overheard voices (Belmondo's in the print works scene).
The English title is a literal translation of the French that fails to capture its meaning, as the French title refers to the idiom "faire les quatre cents coups", meaning "to raise hell". On the first prints in the United States, subtitler and dubber Noelle Gillmor gave the film the title Wild Oats, but the distributor did not like that and reverted it to The 400 Blows. Before seeing it, some people[who?] thought the film covered the topic of corporal punishment.
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The semi-autobiographical film reflects events of Truffaut's and his friends' lives.[according to whom?] In style, it expresses Truffaut's personal history of French film,[according to whom?] with references to other works—most notably a scene borrowed wholesale from Jean Vigo's Zéro de conduite. Truffaut dedicated the film to the man who became his spiritual father, André Bazin, who died just as the film was about to be shot.
Besides being a character study, the film is an exposé of the injustices of the treatment of juvenile offenders in France at the time.
The following are locations used in the filming:
The film opened the 1959 Cannes Film Festival and was widely acclaimed, winning numerous awards, including the Best Director Award at Cannes, the Critics Award of the 1959 New York Film Critics' Circle and the Best European Film Award at 1960's Bodil Awards. It was nominated for Best Original Screenplay at the 32nd Academy Awards. The film holds a 100% "Certified Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 57 reviews, with a weighted average of 9.34/10.
|1959||Cannes Film Festival||Palme d'Or||François Truffaut||Nominated|||
|Best Director||François Truffaut||Won|
|OCIC Award||François Truffaut||Won|
|New York Film Critics Circle Awards||Best Foreign Language Film||The 400 Blows||Won|
|Cahiers du cinéma||Annual Top 10 List||François Truffaut||5th|
|1960||Academy Awards||Best Original Screenplay||François Truffaut, Marcel Moussy||Nominated|
|Bodil Awards||Best European Film||The 400 Blows||Won|
|French Syndicate of Cinema Critics||Best Film||The 400 Blows||Won|
|1961||BAFTA||Best Film from Any Source||François Truffaut||Nominated|
|Most Promising Newcomer||Jean-Pierre Léaud||Nominated|
|Sant Jordi Awards||Best Foreign Director||François Truffaut||Won|
Truffaut made four other films with Léaud depicting Antoine at later stages of his life. Antoine and Colette (which was Truffaut's contribution to the 1962 anthology Love at Twenty), Stolen Kisses, Bed and Board, and Love on the Run.
Filmmakers Akira Kurosawa, Luis Buñuel, Satyajit Ray, Jean Cocteau, Carl Theodor Dreyer, Tsai Ming Liang, Woody Allen, Richard Lester, P C Sreeram, Norman Jewison and Nicolas Cage have cited The 400 Blows as one of their favorite movies. Kurosawa called it "one of the most beautiful films that I have ever seen".
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