The 400 Blows

Truffaut’s autobiographical first feature remains for many his best film. Drawing upon his early years as an orphan, Truffaut gives subtle and realistic meaning to the Chinese proverb about the 400 blows of childhood. Jean-Pierre Léaud plays Antoine Doinel, a neglected 12-year-old who rebels against school and escapes to freedom. The second of five films in his “Doinel” cycle, this early French New Wave milestone is one of the most poignant and moving studies of childhood ever put on film—honest, funny, unsentimental, and full of passion—in Truffaut’s words, “to show adolescence as the painful experience that it is.”

Genres: Drama

Other Films by François Truffaut

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Small Change

Following his critical successes with The 400 Blows, Jules and Jim, and other films, Truffaut achieved his greatest commercial success with Small Change, a slice-of-life portrait of a school class that showcases the spectrum of personalities contained within. Shot using mostly non-professional actors, it is at once a snapshot of France in the mid-1970s and

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Jules and Jim

One of the French New Wave’s great period pieces and one of Truffaut’s greatest love stories, Jules and Jim offers a nostalgic look at a ménage à trois that begins before World War I and concludes with the outbreak of National Socialism. In between these landmark historical events, this magical adaptation of the Henri-Pierre Roche

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Shoot the Piano Player!

Truffaut, hot off The 400 Blows, his masterpiece of adolescent dread, completely changes directions with Shoot the Piano Player!, a film influenced by Hollywood gangster movies that trades in claustrophobic framing for black-and-white Cinemascope grandeur and invention on a small scale. “France’s Frank Sinatra” Charles Aznavour (The Tin Drum, Un Flic) stars as Charlie Koller/Eduoard