The 400 Blows

Year: 1959
Production Co: Les Films Du Carosse
Director: Francois Truffaut
Writer: Francois Truffaut
You have to be very careful of classic movies sometimes, because many film directors have found them classic too, and utilised better filmmaking technology or techniques to make better movies since.

That's how it is with The 400 Blows. The story deals with nothing but a little kid deciding to run away from home and escape a brutal school system and parents that are uncaring bordering on abusive before turning to a life of crime.

Nothing special in itself, right? I didn't think so, falling asleep 45 minutes in and turning it off.

To understand why it's so beloved, you have to know what the French New Wave is. At the time (the 1960s), Hollywood movies were still very stylised - the people, acting styles, sets and costumes all behaving and looking like they belonged in a Hollywood movie, not real life.

Truffaut, Godard and their contemporaries rejected the studio model by shooting out on the streets with minimum set design, costuming or environmental control. They changed moviemaking to something that could happen anywhere, by anyone - taking control of the public imagination away from the top-heavy corporate studio-controlled stars, props, effects and equipment.

So the movement ushered in the style we enjoy now in moviemaking - even the ones imposed by the studios. Most films are similarly realistic now, the gilt-edged Hollywood gloss now the curio. And so relatively speaking, The 400 Blows has nothing to offer apart from being the first in a movement. That's certainly grounds for kudos, but it doesn't make a movie about a runaway kid any more exciting.

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