The 400 Blows

Les quatre cents coups

dir. François Truffaut

TIFF Cinematheque - Retrospective

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François Truffaut's autobiographical first feature, chronicling the misadventures of a twelve-year-old delinquent hero (the unforgettable Jean-Pierre Léaud), was an international sensation and a clarion call for the emerging French New Wave.


A restoration of Truffaut's enduring and endearing first feature, which placed very high in both the Sight & Sound and Time Out critics' polls for the best films of all time. The clarion call for the French New Wave, and the film that launched Truffaut on his international career and his autobiographical Antoine Doinel cycle, The 400 Blows follows the misadventures of its twelve-year-old delinquent hero (Jean-Pierre Léaud) as he attempts to escape from the indifference and brutality of his parents, turns to petty thievery, and ends up in a reformatory. The famous final freeze frame is a blow to the heart. (The intimacy and modesty of its story often make one forget that the film was made in Scope.) Influenced by Vigo, Renoir, and Rossellini, the film is also full of affectionate homages to the American cinema, particularly Hitchcock and Welles. "If Truffaut had never made another film, The 400 Blows would have earned him an enduring place in film history" (Pacific Film Archive).