Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|The 400 Blows|
Actors: Jean-Pierre Laud, Albert Rmy, Claire Maurier, Guy Decomble, Georges Flamant
Director: Franois Truffaut
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Kids & Family
Francois Truffaut's first feature was this 1959 portrait of Antoine Doinel (Jean-Pierre Léaud), a boy who turns to petty crime in the face of neglect at home and hard times at a reform school. Somewhat autobiographical for... more »
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Moving and exhilirating
Alan A. Elsner | Washington DC | 08/26/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The movie announced the talent of Francois Truffaut and still makes a powerful impact 50 years later.
We follow the life of Antoine, a 13-year-old Parisian kid with a knack of getting himself into trouble. He's persecuted in turn by his stupid French literature teacher, his adoptive father and his cold, neglectful mother and winds up in a juvenile institution after stealing a typewriter from his father's office, failing to sell it and getting caught trying to return it.
Antoine is basically not a bad kid but each petty lie and immature stunt gets him deeper and deeper into trouble from a system that seems capable only of punishing and never of understanding him.
We learn that Antoine's mother never wanted him and sees him as a nuisance and a burden; that his adoptive father has no real investment in his success and that the authority figures he meets are interested only in processing him and never relate to him as a person.
This movie is full of exuberant cinemagraphic moments: the camera swoops up and down like a bird watching a clueless teacher taking his class for exercise and having the kids run off behind his back one by one. Antoine and his friend emerge from the Metro and a flock of pigeons explodes into the air. Antoine spends the night alone, surrounded by the cold, unfeeling statues of the Tuileries Gardens.
One notable aspect: every single adult in this movie is an idiot and most are also casually cruel.
The message of this humanistic film is that children need love to thrive. Without it, they are we are victims."
Truffaut almost before he became Truffaut
Lawrence A. Schenbeck | Atlanta, GA USA | 07/31/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you are coming late to this pathbreaking film after having seen and enjoyed other Truffaut movies, be forewarned: it's not much like Jules et Jim, or The Bride Wore Black, or even the later Antoine Doinel features. Truffaut spent his childhood watching movies, especially the American studio products turned out by men who became his heroes -- Hawks, Ford, Hitchcock, Ray. In his later films, he unabashedly adapted their styles, combining commercial narrative techniques with his own New Wave sensibility. The result was a type of French cinema that could both entertain and dig deeper than a typical Hollywood vehicle.
In The 400 Blows, his first full-length film, Truffaut opted instead for a documentary style that he felt offered the best chance of telling the truth. (He knew this truth very well, because the story is largely autobiographical.) Elements that typically enhance a studio film and nudge the viewer toward a certain reaction are almost totally absent. The camera "passively" records whatever is taking place, allowing fairly long scenes to unfold in real time. There are few quick cuts or editing that calls attention to itself or to particular lines. The music seems perfunctory, serving more to bridge scenes or otherwise offer continuity (again, in the manner of a documentary) than to prompt emotional responses or underline the psychology of a moment. Dialogue is usually banal, i.e., naturalistic. The characters, even the least sympathetic ones, don't get sorted into heroes or villains. We can sympathize with all of them even as we discern their obvious limitations.
In other words, not a great date movie. Just a courageous first effort by someone who wasn't afraid to translate strong ideas about film into an actual film. I'm glad I finally watched it, although I will probably continue to treasure other Truffaut movies much more.
The Blu-Ray transfer seems superb. Rich variations of black and gray and white. Beautiful visual detail. Wide-screen format, which surprised me, as with Jules et Jim. (Why have I always assumed that the great European film-makers of the 50s and 60s stuck with Academy Ratio?) Technically another great job by Criterion.
Highly recommended, with the implicit caveats noted."
Another fine Criterion Blu-ray
Michael Gillett | 01/23/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is the last Criterion Blu-ray I'll ever have to buy in that cheap paper jacket. Shame on you Criterion for producing such a thing. However, all their new discs have the plastic shell you expect from Blu-rays and you might get one after the original pressing runs out.
The film is flawlessly presented and I recommend it highly to anyone interested in Truffaut, french films, film history, and all around creative film making. If you're idea of a good film is something directed by Michael Bay then stay clear of this one. 'Armageddon' or "The Rock" this is not."
Affecting Film about Juvenile Delinquency
Lynn Ellingwood | Webster, NY United States | 10/18/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A boy in France isn't interested in school and feels alienated by his parents. His world begins to increasingly be surrounded by like minded friends his own age especially one boy who often accompanies him in misbehavior. Based on true story, Francois Truffaut creates a moving portrait of a child on his way through the juvenile legal system including the detention centers and homes. The ending is especially affecting."