Conomos, John. “Truffaut’s The 400 Blows, or the Sea, Antoine, the Sea…” Senses of Cinema 6 (May 2000), http://sensesofcinema.com/2006/6/francois-truffaut/blows/ (accessed Feb 26 2013)
“I still retain from my childhood a great anxiety, and the movies are bound up with an anxiety, with an idea of something clandestine.” – Francois Truffaut
The 400 Blows was Truffaut’s debut feature film, was previewed out of competition on May 4th, 1959 at the Cannes Film Festival. Truffaut got his start as one of the critics of Cashiers du Cinema.
“Truffaut, amongst his peers inclduing Godard, Chabrol, Rivette, Rozier, Demy and Rohmer, regarded the screenplay as the essentail stage of filmmaking.”
Maybe the natural progression out of the silent film era to realise the potential of scripting in film.
The French New wave introduced the world the the auteur. “The filmmaker/author writes with his camera as a writer writes with his pen.” Introducing art and real life into the world of cinema. Truffaut and his contemporaries were the first to explore the “mundane” life of the every man, exposing the beauty in life as it is, rather than as it is imagined. “A cinema that speaks of ordinary experiences and situations, fragile individuals, daily recognisable language and emotions where the director displays a non-superior relationship to his characters.”
“Truffaut forged a highly personal cinema that owed a lot also to Bazin’s spatial realism and is crucially sympathetic to the fluid and ambiguous realit of the portrayed characters, their beauty, sadness, desire, timidity and loss. Consequently, French New Wave films value a cinema that does not follow in the steps of an “old cinema”, but instead features the human sensibility of the director-writer creating an art that is noted for its spontaneity, improvisation and obsessions.”
My experience of French New Wave is quite limited but this makes me think of Goddard’s Vivre sa vie in Intro to Cinema studies where it struck me that rather than capturing the extaordinary events in his characters lives, Goddard was instead depicting the every day in between these defining events, which was such a departure to everything else i’ve seen. To have auteurs preoccupied with representing life as it is and seeing the beauty in that is really refreshing to see on screen, even today. I think it also speaks to the evolution of storytelling since, where indie films and more and more mainstream films are giving us characters we can relate to more and more… maybe i’m just starting to bullshit now. Anyway I want to watch more French New Wave to appreciate it more. Particularly Breathless and would love to watch Vivre Sa Vie again.
“The 400 Blows, along with Les Mistons (1975), The Wild Child (1969 and Small Change (1969) represent one of the most tender and loving depictions of childhood in cinema. Truffaut’s characteristic sensitive and non-sentimental view of his children characters denotes a respect for children living in a difficult world made by adults.” – apparently Rossellini’s Germany, Year Zero (1947) influenced Truffaut and significantly informs Truggaut’s hypnotically moving debut feature.
“As Antoine flees, we hear his feet running along the country road: the sound has a hypnotic rhythym which expresses Antoine’s sensuous delight in being free, a freedom rooted in the everydayness of his life and its simple pleasures. As Antoine descends a set of steps onto the beach we are already on the beach savouring the enchantment Antoine experiences as he rushes towards the sea. In the sea, Antoine’s footsteps are erased suggesting a new beginning of selfaffirmation. And when Antoine turns towards us, Truffaut’s camera zooms in an d freezes his face, forcing us to contemplate the lyrical dialectic and its paradoxical tension between the still of his face and the kinetic nature of the film medium itself, and forcing us, as Douchet suggests, to react morally concerning Antoine and his own world. This impulse of Truffaut’s to capture and animate as his camera consummately freezes or tracks his characters recalls, as Annette Insdorg points out, the unmistakable texture of the romantic poet John Keats.”
Truffaut’s passionate beliefe that cinema “is an indirect art… it conceals as much as it reveals.”