The 400 Blows (Les Quatre Cent Coups)

18/01/2018 19:45.
Cert PG

Considered to be semi-autobiographical of Truffaut’s early life, Les Quatre Cent Coups (The 400 Blows) is a magnificent early example of what came to be known as the nouvelle vague. Jean-Pierre Léaud plays the 12 year old Antoine Doinel struggling through pre-pubescent angst at home in his tenement apartment with his detached mother and step-father. School brings no relief, but he draws comfort from his great love of Balzac, which provides the hope that Antoine will eventually realise his potential, as indeed did Truffaut.

Dr Ann Miller, formerly of the Department of Modern Languages, Leicester University will introduce and discuss a French language film for the 21st year in succession.

Dir: Francois Truffaut 99mins France 1959


  • Superlative – completely brilliant!
  • Fantastic film and Ann’s leading discussion. Thanks
  • A good exercise in film appreciation, well led by Ann. A rare chance to discuss with some one who has the background experience to draw out the essential points of technique and writing. A good choice of film – I look forward to Ann’s visit each year
  • Delightful – but with a viper of a mother like Antoine’s, I’d have run away (too)!
  • A brutally honest film – Antoine trying to make sense of a value system that no-one else seemed to observe
  • Despite its slick-as-hell narrative, there was sheer unadulterated beauty in this enthralling experience of a film, with its tracking shots and imaginative camerawork. Ann Miller gave us an (in-depth) psychoanalysis of this quintessential example of the nouvelle vague. Probably a bit too academic for this time of night but a fascinating evening nevertheless
  • Not surprising this film had a major impact. Powerful, shocking social commentary, wonderful shots of Paris – lovely free-wheeling shots – a kind of looseness with movement. Very dynamic
  • The film fizzed along
  • Quite gripping
  • Not seen this before but would want to again
  • I found the tone uncertain and couldn’t take Antoine’s plight seriously
  • Plus ca change!


A:20, B:5, C:5, D:0, E:0 to give 88% from 83% of those present.