Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The 400 Blows

In the 400 blows by Francois Truffaut, we see the story of an young boy, a teenager who becomes reckless in his behavior. This was Truffaut's first feature film, and it came out in 1959. The film won best director award at the Cannes film festival. The film was dedicated to Andre Bazin who had a major influence over french new wave directors.

The film is very much autobiographic. The story is based on Truffaut's own life as a young boy. We see a boy, named Antoine who lives with his parents who seem to care very little about his moral upbringing. We see the Father, always making jokes with Antoine, sometimes even jokes at his mother's expense. When the mother goes to bring in the dinner, the father tells Antoine to ask why it smells like a dishrag is burning. We see the Mother who is constantly annoyed by the son, he always seems to be in her way. The only time her attitude is drastically different is after Antoine sees his mother kissing another man. She then tries to bribe him into keeping her secret, by offering money.

One could delve deeply into the Freudian relationship between Antoine and his mother. We see a scene where he sees her taking of her stocking, and this scene is much too erotic for a mother and son. We also have the father asking the son, what he thinks about his mother looks/body? What teenage boy would want to be asked that, let alone receive that visual?!?The film does not end neatly and this annoyed me. Antoine runs to the lake/ocean, but then what happens? We do not know. To some this might seem like a nice open ending, where you can imagine whatever you want, but after learning that the actor (Jean-Pierre LĂ©aud) who plays Antoine goes on to play the same character in other films, the ending seems to make much more sense. This film gives a good example of a juvenile delinquent whose parents are too self-absorbed to see what is happening to their child.

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