400 BLOWS, THE: DVD
A mature 12 year old, Antoine (Jean-Pierre Leaud), has troubles at home and at school. Ignored by his parents, his relationship with his mother is strained further when he discovers she has taken a lover. His teachers write him off as a useless troublemaker without prospects. Isolated and unloved, he finds refuge in the cinema, but soon finds it imperative to break free and search the world for something of value.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Based on Truffaut’s own fatherless, troubled childhood, The 400 Blows comes straight from the heart, with all the sensitivity and truth of youth, about a young boy who is given punishment when he is crying out for love and attention. The Antoine (Jean-Pierre Leaud) we get to know is misunderstood and unlucky, and Truffaut uses no cinematic artifice, just his natural gift for filmmaking to take us into this world. He won the Best Director award at Cannes in 1959, and the film received Oscar and BAFTA nominations in various categories. It is also regarded as the film that launched the French Novelle-Vague, pioneering not just an era of new cinema, but a revolution in the language of cinema.
On the DVD (digitally remastered transfer, but still in B/W not colour as the flyer has it), you can explore Truffaut’s cinematic style closely and repeatedly. See how he holds the camera on Antoine, for example, through a bitter, revealing row between his parents, as the young boy lies in the darkness of his bed hearing his mother accuse his father of not wanting him. Of suggesting an orphanage… But Truffaut isn’t as heavy handed as this makes it sound. Indeed, it’s the subtlety of the screenplay that impresses.
The only ‘bonus’ is Truffaut’s 18 minute short, Les Miston (the Brats), a bitter sweet and tragedy-tinted story about youngsters and a beautiful young woman.
Published October 16, 2003
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400 BLOWS, THE: DVD (PG)
Les Quatre cents coups
CAST: Jean-Pierre Laud, Claire Maurier, Albert Remy, Guy Decomble, Georges Flamant, Patrick Auffray, Daniel Coutourier
DIRECTOR: Francois Truffaut
RUNNING TIME: 95 minutes
PRESENTATION: 16:9; DD 2.0
SPECIAL FEATURES: Les Miston, by Francois Truffaut (1957, 18 mins)
DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Umbrella Entertainment
DVD RELEASE: September 12, 2003