The theme of children continues with Francois Truffaut’s 1959 French new wave classic The 400 Blows. It tells the story of an incorrigible adolescent skipping school and getting into trouble on the streets of 1950s Paris. It’s interesting reading the lofty praise excerpted at Rotten Tomatoes – I wonder to what extent the credit this film receives has to do with time and place. But that’s not to say I didn’t like the film.
It was the ending that did it the most for me. A perfect finale to the constant need to break free from the strict confines of adolescence. And that look he gives us, telling each one of us of his struggle. I also liked how the film vacillated between brief tastes of joy (the carnival ride and the happy trip to the movies with his normally stressed out and worn down parents) and the pressure and drag of being a kid (the oppressive classroom and a mostly unhappy home life). Finally, that long and simple take of the 1950s children of Parisian as they watched a riveting (to a child) puppet show was everything that I love about movies. It captured pure truth for a brief moment in time. Beautiful.