Monday, May 4, 2009

400 Turns 50

The Criterion Collection newsletter I received this afternoon contained the startling piece of information that François Truffaut’s The 400 Blows turned 50 years old today, the date that also represents the unofficial beginning of the French Nouvelle Vague. The 400 Blows made its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival on May 4, 1959, and contained “the shot heard round the world”: the final freeze-frame of Antoine Doinel (Jean-Pierre Léaud) standing alone at edge of the ocean, staring back at the camera, is one of the most famous freeze-frames in the history of cinema. The past 50 years have seen many pieces published on Truffaut’s fine film, but none of them can approach the elegance, the poignancy, and above all the inconclusiveness, of the film’s final, evocative image, of a vulnerable boy standing on the edge of troubled adolescence.

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