Director: François Truffaut
Apparently the French title refers to the expression “faire les quatre cents coups”, which means “to raise hell”. Les quatre cents coups is a character study of Antoine Doinel, a young man who is misunderstood by many of the adults around him. these adults seem not just ignorant but deliberately selfish in their efforts to provide care for him. Whilst wrapped up in their own lives with their own selfish motives, they ignore the beauty and innocence of Antoine’s youth. this beauty and innocence is reflected in Francois characterization of Antoine, particularly in the scene where young Antoine has skipped school and joins a group of young children who are watching a puppet show.Francois captures the innocence and exuberance on the young children’s faces which is a metaphor for Antoine’s own.
Francois makes a point of telling his story with film rather than dialogue and this is surprisingly expertly done considering that it’s Francois third film and first feature having completed two shorts prior to this one. The film is delightfully french new wave, the opening scene where the camera travels around the streets of Paris has so obviously been shot by a camera operator in some sort of car as the shot wobbles and flows as though it’s been shot by a handheld camera.
My personal opinion is that Les quatre cents coups is a resounding success, it focuses on working class people in french society and although the script is short on dialogue Antoine’s story is told mainly by his actions and the actions of those around him. This film was a very low budget independent project, and the beautiful scenes of 1950’s Paris are captured with imagination and integrity.
Many have commented about the film being partially biographical on Truffaut’s part and mentioned that it is a commentary ( modern Dickensian style) about how young people were treated in France at the time.
Les quatre cents coups has many modern day naysayers but I defy them to find such a beautiful and iconic film that has been made recently on such a tight and limiting budget with 1950’s technology.Francois Truffaut won the best director award at Cannes, a complete list of the films awards can be found here
10 out of 10
References: Wikipedia, Imdb, google Images