For his feature-film debut, critic-turned-director FranÃ§ois Truffaut drew inspiration from his own troubled childhood. The 400 Blows stars Jean-Pierre LÃ©aud as Antoine Doinel, Truffaut’s preteen alter ego. Misunderstood at home by his parents and tormented in school by his insensitive teacher (Guy Decomble), Antoine frequently runs away from both places.
The boy finally quits school after being accused of plagiarism by his teacher. He steals a typewriter from his father (Albert Remy) to finance his plans to leave home. The father angrily turns Antoine over to the police, who lock the boy up with hardened criminals. A psychiatrist at a delinquency center probes Antoine’s unhappiness, which he reveals in a fragmented series of monologues.
Originally intended as a 20-minute short, The 400 Blows was expanded into a feature when Truffaut decided to elaborate on his self-analysis. For the benefit of Truffaut’s fellow film buffs, The 400 Blows is full of brief references to favorite directors, notably Truffaut’s then-idol Jean Vigo.
The film won the 1959 Best Director prize at the Cannes Film Festival, even though Truffaut had been declared persona non grata the year before for his inflammatory comments about the festival’s commercialism.
• Two audio commentaries for The 400 Blows: one by cinema professor Brian Stonehill and another by lifelong friend of Truffaut, Robert Lachenay
• Rare audition footage of Jean-Pierre LÃ©aud, Patrick Auffay and Richard Kanayan
• Newsreel footage of Jean-Pierre LÃ©aud in Cannes for the showing of The 400 Blows
• Excerpt from a French TV program with Truffaut discussing his youth, critical writings, and the origins of Antoine Doinel in The 400 Blows and Antoine and Colette
• Television interview with Truffaut about the global financial reception of The 400 Blows and his own critical impression of the film
• Theatrical trailer for The 400 Blows
Language(s):French, English (commentary 1), French (commentary 2)
Subtitles:English & English for French commentary (VobSub & SRT)