#176: The 400 Blows (1959)

When and how did I watch this?

December 3rd, 2015, on Hulu Plus.

Had I seen this film already?


What did I know about the movie before watching it?

Foreign film (always a good thing), about coming-of-age. Walked into this one blind.

What do I know about it now?

Take Stand By Me, isolate one of the boys, thrust him into a larger city (namely Paris) and watch what happens. This guy has the worst start ever, and it’s no wonder he behaves the way he does.  We’re taken aback when he attempts to do the right thing and ends up getting scorned for it, sympathizing with the young man while all along wondering when his growing-up trials are going to end.  In comparison, young Doinel is already grown up, in a way, traversing through a life that seems to have rejected him in every way.  Whether or not he wants it, he’s on his own from beginning to end. I later discovered it’s based on the director’s tumultuous childhood, and I guess he turned out alright. The cinematography and acting are both spectacular, and the film ends very well in its harsh simplicity.

What are some themes in the film?

Growing up, family dynamics, crime, authority, futility, boredom

Did this affect me personally?

Yes.  I was, again, drawn in pretty quickly, and I found myself groaning and hoping the kid would eventually “know better”, yet I likewise identified with his plight in some ways, but certainly not all.

Why is this ranked #176?

The film depicts aspects of a troubled youth that many authority figures fail to address. Even now, as a former substitute teacher, I see how a kid who goofs off in class is often overlooked or cast aside as “just another troublemaker”.  We forget or simply don’t know what it’s like when, as a kid, it felt like the world was perpetually against us.  I think the film does a fine job reminding us, and for those who have seen this one, it strikes them on a personal level.  It should be next door to Stand By Me as ranked.

Did my wife watch/like it?

She felt the same as I did.

Would I watch it again?

I don’t think so.  It’s pretty rough often times.

Would I recommend it to a friend?

Yes.  You’ve probably missed this one, and you’re missing out.

Does it deserve to be on this list as one of the greatest films of all time?

Everything about it says so.

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