Precious Bodily Fluids

The 400 Blows

Opening credit shots moving via car through streets of Paris – front view, then side, with Eiffel Tower as point of focus, though usually hidden behind buildings. Point of view of passenger (child – back seat) looking out window. Then looks through back window at tower.

Great flat shot, horizontally moving, from front of class, side to side as teacher walks across back of room. Light, floaty camera – moves a lot in numerous ways and directions.

Teacher teaches students verb moods through boy’s action: “I deface the classroom wall.” Antoine goes home to write it out as all children did in class. Teacher not only aggravates children, but essentially encourages misbehavior in them. Mother yells at boy for doing homework – time to eat. Father encourages behavior (ask mother if dishrag is on fire). Mother nags constantly.

All action is focused on Antoine – everything revolves around him and relates to him. In morning, Antoine hears teacher telling him to deface classroom walls. Father reveals mother uses money for her own purposes (like Antoine), instead of buying bedding for Antoine.

Self-conscious cinema? (Boys go into theater, camera moves up and in on “CINE”. Antoine moves up wall on spinning ride – almost upside down – while people spin outside from his perspective.

Antoine sees mother kissing man in the street; camera trained on Antoine, who soon thereafter tells teacher his mother is dead. Camera does whatever it takes to keep Antoine in its sights: bird’s eye, following, turning, back & forth, panning. Antoine reads Balzac while smoking – a man’s voice is audible from within Antoine’s head. He goes from lying about his mother’s death to writing a “true “story about his grandfather’s, though he is punished for plagiarizing Balzac.

Musical montage of Antoine & friend running around – an influence of W. Anderson. Camera watches boys watching screen in theater. At kiddie puppet show, Antoine & friend in back, smoking, looking much older than other children – distinguished between other children. Also an influence on Anderson protagonists.

Police looks straight at camera while telling Antoine’s father of his typewriter theft. Once in jail, camera pulls away from Antoine, showing larger context of boy in prison. In cell, in transport, multiple shots of Antoine behind bars, from inside and out, as Antoine is manhandled. No shot of psychiatrist as Antoine is interrogated. He enjoys interrogation. RUNS away.

360-degree turn, from Antoine running, to landscape, to Antoine. Cut. Runs down stairs to beach. Continual (& continuous) shot of Antoine, running into water. Stops after getting wet, he looks straight at camera, FIN.

This entry was published on April 7, 2008 at 4:28 pm. It’s filed under 1950s Cinema, Francois Truffaut, French Film and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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