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The 400 Blows (The Criterion Collection) (1959)

Jean-Pierre Léaud , Claire Maurier , François Truffaut  |  Unrated |  DVD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (141 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Jean-Pierre Léaud, Claire Maurier, Patrick Auffay, Albert Remy, Jeanne Moreau
  • Directors: François Truffaut
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: French (Dolby Digital 1.0)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Criterion
  • DVD Release Date: May 9, 2006
  • Run Time: 99 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (141 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000E5LEV0
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #53,609 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The 400 Blows (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Commentary by film scholar Brian Stonehill
  • Commentary by Truffaut's lifelong friend Robert Lachenay
  • Rare audition footage of young actors Jean-Pierre Leaud, Patrick Auffay, and Richard Kanayan
  • Newsreel footage of Leaud at the film’s Cannes premiere
  • Excerpts from French TV interview with Truffaut discussing his youth, critical writings and the origins of Antoine Doinel
  • TV interview with Truffaut discussing  the global financial reception of the film and his own critical impressions

Editorial Reviews

The knowing yet innocent face of Jean-Pierre Leaud, the 14-year-old star of The 400 Blows, is the heartbreaking core of Francois Truffaut's most intimate film. As Antoine Doinel, Leaud begins his career as director Truffaut's alter-ego, a young boy neglected by his mother and stepfather who, to cover his absence at school, tells a lie that leads him to run away from home and end up in reform school. There's nothing remarkable or surprising about the plot; the power of this film comes from how completely it draws you into Antoine's life. Antoine is a vivid, natural presence, one of the most compelling collaborations between a writer/director and an actor. The movie seems to capture him as he lives. Antoine endures his parent's indifference, humiliations at school, deprivation and juvenile delinquency--yet the movie never feels pitying or condescending, as if it were trying to rub your nose in Antoine's suffering. On the contrary: His resilience is what grabs you, his refusal to be broken down as he struggles towards a more adult understanding of the world. Truffaut and Leaud made many excellent films together (Day for Night, Two English Girls), including further chapters in Antoine's life (Bed and Board, Stolen Kisses), but none were quite as simple, rich, and devastatingly potent as The 400 Blows. (The title, incidentally, refers not to abuse or anything sexual, but is a French idiom for a wild and unruly youth or "raising hell.") --Bret Fetzer

Product Description

Francois Truffaut's first and most personal feature film, told from the perspective of the director's lifelong cinematic counterpart, Antoine Doinel. Sensitively recreating the trials of Truffaut's own childhood, The 400 Blows unsentimentally portrays aloof parents, oppressive teachers, petty crime, and a friendship that would last a lifetime. Available after a long absence as a single-disc release.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
102 of 115 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 400 Blows May 11, 2004
I've spent decades avoiding THE 400 BLOWS, afraid it was either dark and brooding, or a documentation of child abuse (physical and/or emotional), or an angry and vindictive assault on the authors' of Francois Truffaut's traumatic childhood.
I shouldn't have worried. THE 400 BLOWS is a gentle and compassionate movie. It isn't overwhelmed by its anger, although a few characters, particularly the coming-of-age hero's mother and his school teacher, aren't terribly sympathetic. Being new to THE 400 BLOWS, I found the commentary by Premiere magazine film critic Glen Kenny especially helpful in understanding French New Wave cinema in general and Truffaut in particular. By the way, according to Kenny "400 blows" refers to a French colloquialism similar to the American "paint the town red." It means to give oneself over to every type of excess, and raise a little heck in the process.
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47 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A True-to-the-Bones-and-Heart Modern Day Dickensian Fable February 12, 2000
The most heart-felt movie I've ever seen is a powerful mix of sharp-eye, hardhitting autobiographical remembrance of a nearly bruised childhood and a celebration of the wide-open, spontaneous and lyrical qualities of cinema to capture pointed truths of family, school and street lives as seen through the curiously haunted eyes of one Antoine Doinel, a modern-day Dickensian hero in a decidedly unglamours Paris, searching, often wrongheadly, for love and acceptance while, almost against himself, challenging the authorial rules imposed on children growing up in conformist post-WWII France. The film's tone is one of anguished bittersweetness and quiet defiance, counterpointed by bursts of joyful freedom and naughty prank playings as shared by many in their pre-adolescenthood. Doniel's friendship with the well-off but neglected Rene is also among the most moving portraits of childhood friendship ever. An unforgettable portrait, a cutting social study, a New Wave classic and Truffaut's best, but most importantly a timeless and univsersal "true" story. And yes, the last freeze, when it comes, is a stunner. Gosh, I just love it! (P.S., this relatively small and quiet masterpiece also happens to be the all-time favorite film of John Woo, imagine!)
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37 of 42 people found the following review helpful
However, if you are a fan of this entire film series by Truffaut, then you should spring for the Adventures of Antoine Doinel boxed set. It comes with all the extras found on this disc, plus a bonus disc which features excerpts from a 1961 documentary on Truffaut, which touches on this film, and a promotional art gallery for this film. Neither of these bonus features are found on this disc, nor is the bonus short film, Antoine and Colette, which is on the 400 Blows' disc in the boxed set. Great if you only want this movie, but I'd pay the extra dough as it's well worth it to have the entire Criterion boxed set, which is loaded with extras covering all the other films.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
In 1959, Francois Truffaut released a semibiographical film about his life with "the 4oo blows" (Les quatre cents coups). A film highly regarded as a definitive film that showcases French New Wave (a term to describe a group of French filmmakers in the 1950's-1960's that were inspired by classic Hollywood cinema and Italian Neorealism).

The film won several awards which include "Best Director Award" at the 1959 Cannes Film Festival and "Best Original Screenplay" at the 32nd Annual Academy Awards. Needless to say, the film made Francois Truffaut and young actor Jean-Pierre Léaud Internationally known and definitely gave movie fans a taste of the French New Wave film.

"the 400 blows" is the first of five films spanning around 20 years based on the character of Antoine Doinel (played by Jean-Pierre Léaud). Each film showcases the character's life as a teenager through his 30's but for "the 400 blows", the film focuses on the life of a troubled teenager.

Although not based 100% on Director Francois Truffaut's real life, a large part of the film was based on his troubled family life and in order for him to capture that life he had, he picked the right person with Jean-Pierre Leaud, an unknown actor (who was just as an antisocial loner) who was 13 and a half years old but had that rebellious nature that Truffaut found. A boy who would not have to learn a script but to use his his own words. This added to the realism of the film and what made this film so fantastic and engrossing just to watch.


"the 400 blows" is presented in 1080p High Definition with an aspect ratio of 2:35:1.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic, heartfelt coming of age story December 12, 2002
In Francois Truffaut's debut, award winning film, he paints visually the pain and joy of childhood, through a semi-autobiographical account of a 13 year old boy living in France. Antoine, lives with his mother and father in an apartment, on minimum finance. He gets into trouble at school, time after time, and at home his parents punish him, but at heart, he is a good kid. He decides to run away, but his parents find him, and they begin to treat him nicer. But when he gets suspended from school, he runs away for good. He begins stealing, and he gets caught. After he stays at a special home for juvenile delinquents, he escapes and his spirit prevails. This story is very moving, and entertaining. You get pulled into the young boy's life, and can relate with him. After you see how he keeps hope and prevails, it creates a warm feeling, and inspires you. The direction is perfect, and the director won the Best Director at Cannes Film Festival. I highly recommend those who wish to watch a fun, entertaining tale of hope and faith in the face of seemingly endless problems. 5 stars.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Storyline is not great but not bad
- some funny scenes
- street scenery of Paris in 1959

- movie dragged on

RECOMMENDATION: skip it, there are way better French... Read more
Published 18 days ago by Happy r/c
2.0 out of 5 stars It was okay
I just didn't really love it. It was a little too slow for my tastes. I can appreciate the care that was taken to make it, but I wouldn't want to watch it again.
Published 1 month ago by H. J. Coy
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my favorite French films
I have always loved this film. As a former caseworker in child welfare, I always empathized with this poor kid's behavior. Read more
Published 3 months ago by RainyDayGal
5.0 out of 5 stars Franc T. was a good story teller.
If you like a real story this film is the ticket. The story line is from real life and it's a tale well told.
Published 3 months ago by Mark Gresock
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Film
Recently, I conducted an experiment where I watched three movies by great directors. I watched a Fellini movie, an Ingmar Bergman and a Francois Truffaut. Read more
Published 4 months ago by C. Irish
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic
No matter which way you look at this film: an auto biography of Truffaut, a vision of growing up or just a fine French film, 400 Blows is a beauty. Read more
Published 5 months ago by C. Buras
4.0 out of 5 stars Youth Rebels
This may be my first taste of French Cinema, and it is off to a good start. This feels to me like a French version of Rebel without a Cause. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Thomas Gutowitz
4.0 out of 5 stars Popular
I think this film is best understood in context. It was one of the first to be filmed as it was, capturing life as it is. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Anyong
5.0 out of 5 stars weird
Very bizarre movie and very worth watching. assigned this for a film class and didn't know what to expect - it was very interesting and worth watching
Published 8 months ago by regharri
5.0 out of 5 stars My favourite movie
This without a doubt my favourite movie of all time...I think its appropriate for everyone and anyone will enjoy this, especially those who feel like outcasts. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Lisa Smith
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Is this still coming in paper jacket?
A replacement case is available from Criterion for $5; in fact, replacement cases are available for all their paper jacket blu-rays, except for the more deluxe paper pacakaging that actually works like that of "The Leopard" and "Che". The replacement cases come with the slip... Read More
Sep 5, 2010 by Sherwin Doroudi |  See all 2 posts
"400 Blows" Criterion Blu-ray NOT Out Of Print. So why is it so hard to... Be the first to reply
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