Edithe Roby

Written by Edithe Roby

Modified & Updated: 01 Jun 2024

Jessica Corbett

Reviewed by Jessica Corbett

Source: Mubi.com

The 400 Blows is a French New Wave film directed by François Truffaut and released in 1959. It is considered a classic in the world of cinema and has left an indelible mark on film history. The movie tells the story of Antoine Doinel, a troubled adolescent navigating the challenges of his tumultuous life in post-war Paris.

In this article, we will delve into 30 fascinating facts about The 400 Blows that shed light on its production, its impact on the film industry, and the legacy it has left behind. From interesting behind-the-scenes tidbits to critical acclaim, join us as we explore what makes this movie so special and why it continues to captivate audiences more than six decades after its release.

Key Takeaways:

  • “The 400 Blows” is a French New Wave classic directed by Francois Truffaut, offering an intimate portrayal of adolescence in 1950s France. Its innovative techniques and emotional impact continue to captivate audiences worldwide.
  • Through the captivating journey of protagonist Antoine Doinel, played by Jean-Pierre Léaud, the film explores themes of freedom, rebellion, and the challenges of growing up, leaving a lasting impression on viewers.
Table of Contents

The 400 Blows

The movie “The 400 Blows” is a French film released in

Directed by Francois Truffaut

The 400 Blows” was directed by Francois Truffaut, who is considered one of the pioneers of the French New Wave movement.

A Semiautobiographical Film

The movie is largely based on Truffaut’s own experiences growing up, making it a semiautobiographical film.

Protagonist Antoine Doinel

The film follows the life of the protagonist, Antoine Doinel, as he navigates through adolescence and deals with societal pressures.

Jean-Pierre Léaud’s Breakout Role

Jean-Pierre Léaud, who played Antoine Doinel, gained critical acclaim for his performance and it became his breakout role.

Cannes Film Festival Premiere

The 400 Blows” premiered at the 1959 Cannes Film Festival, where it received a standing ovation and won the Best Director award.

Critical Acclaim and International Success

The film received critical acclaim worldwide and became a commercial success, solidifying Truffaut’s reputation as a prominent filmmaker.

Influential in French Cinema

“The 400 Blows” is often cited as one of the most influential films in French cinema history, inspiring future generations of filmmakers.

Innovative Cinematic Techniques

Truffaut employed innovative cinematic techniques in the movie, such as the use of jump cuts and handheld camera shots, which added to its realism.

Intimate Portrayal of Adolescence

The film is praised for its intimate portrayal of adolescence, capturing the complexities and struggles of growing up.

A Coming-of-Age Story

The 400 Blows” is considered a coming-of-age story, showcasing the challenges faced by young individuals in society.

Symbolic Title

The title of the film, “The 400 Blows,” is a reference to the French idiom “faire les quatre cents coups,” which roughly translates to “to raise hell.”

Truffaut’s Writing Collaboration

Truffaut collaborated with Marcel Moussy in writing the screenplay, which brought depth and authenticity to the characters’ experiences.

Realism in Cinematography

The 400 Blows” is known for its realistic cinematography, showcasing the grittiness of Parisian streets and capturing the essence of 1950s France.

Emotional Impact

The film resonates with audiences due to its emotional impact and its ability to evoke empathy for the struggles of its characters.

Truffaut’s Directing Style

Truffaut’s directing style in “The 400 Blows” is characterized by his attention to detail and the exploration of complex human emotions.

Cinematic Exploration of Freedom

The film delves into the theme of freedom, particularly the desire to break away from societal norms and find personal liberation.

Truffaut’s Homage to Cinema

Truffaut pays homage to cinema within “The 400 Blows,” with references to influential filmmakers and films of the past.

Impact on Filmmaking Techniques

The innovative techniques used in “The 400 Blows” had a significant impact on filmmaking, influencing future directors in their storytelling approaches.

Recognition as a Classic

The 400 Blows” is widely regarded as a classic film, continuously praised for its timeless themes and artistic achievements.

Immersive Sound Design

The film’s immersive sound design enhances the viewing experience, effectively capturing the ambiance and emotions of each scene.

Emotional Connection with Characters

The 400 Blows” establishes a strong emotional connection between the audience and the characters, making their journey relatable and compelling.

Study of Juvenile Delinquency

The film explores the topic of juvenile delinquency, shedding light on the factors that contribute to rebellious behavior in adolescence.

Impact on Nouvelle Vague Movement

The 400 Blows” had a significant impact on the Nouvelle Vague (French New Wave) movement, inspiring a wave of filmmakers to experiment with new storytelling techniques.

Truffaut’s Career Launch

The success of “The 400 Blows” launched Truffaut’s career as a renowned director, paving the way for his future influential works.

Exploration of Social Issues

The film addresses social issues prevalent in the 1950s, such as the education system, family dynamics, and the challenges faced by children from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Naturalistic Performances

The actors in “The 400 Blows” deliver naturalistic performances, bringing authenticity and depth to their characters.

Resonance with Young Audiences

The film resonates with younger audiences due to its honest portrayal of adolescence, capturing the challenges and emotions of that transitional period.

Truffaut’s Dedication to Realism

Truffaut’s dedication to realism is reflected in the film’s detailed production design and the use of non-professional actors, giving it a raw and authentic feel.

Enduring Legacy

“The 400 Blows” continues to hold its place as a cinematic masterpiece, leaving a lasting impact on audiences and serving as a testament to Truffaut’s visionary filmmaking.

Ready to be captivated by the poignant and immersive world of “The 400 Blows”? This French New Wave classic, directed by the legendary Francois Truffaut, offers a unique and intimate portrayal of adolescence in 1950s France. With its semiautobiographical storyline and innovative cinematic techniques, this coming-of-age drama has solidified its place as a genre-defining masterpiece.

The film follows the journey of Antoine Doinel, a troubled young boy navigating the complexities of societal pressures. Played brilliantly by Jean-Pierre Léaud, Antoine captivates viewers with his raw and emotive performance, showcasing the joys, frustrations, and tribulations of adolescence.

Released in 1959, “The 400 Blows” premiered at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival, where it received critical acclaim and won the Best Director award. Truffaut’s innovative use of jump cuts, handheld camera shots, and realistic cinematography added a level of authenticity to the film, allowing audiences to immerse themselves in the gritty streets of 1950s Paris.

The 400 Blows” explores themes of freedom, rebellion, and the desire to break away from societal constraints. With its emotional impact and relatable characters, the film captures the essence of youth and leaves a lasting impression on its viewers.

Truffaut’s semiautobiographical approach brings an intimate and personal touch to the story, allowing audiences to connect with the characters on a deeper level. The struggles of Antoine Doinel mirror the challenges faced by many young individuals, making this film a timeless and relevant piece of cinema.

The legacy of “The 400 Blows” endures to this day, serving as an inspiration for future filmmakers and a testament to Truffaut’s immense talent. From its Cannes premiere to its international success, this French New Wave classic has stood the test of time and solidified its place in cinematic history.


In conclusion, “The 400 Blows” is a masterpiece of French cinema that continues to captivate audiences with its poignant storytelling and authentic portrayal of the struggles of adolescence. With its powerful performances, brilliant direction, and stunning cinematography, the film has secured its place in film history as a true classic. The compelling narrative and relatable characters make it a timeless piece of cinema that has resonated with audiences around the world.Through its exploration of themes such as rebellion, alienation, and the loss of innocence, “The 400 Blows” has touched the hearts of viewers and left a lasting impact on the cinematic landscape. It serves as a testament to the power of film in showcasing the complexities of the human experience and the universal challenges of growing up.Whether you are a lover of French New Wave cinema or simply appreciate thought-provoking storytelling, “The 400 Blows” is a must-watch film that will leave you reflecting on the trials and tribulations of youth long after the credits roll.


1. Who directed “The 400 Blows”?

Answer: “The 400 Blows” was directed by François Truffaut.

2. When was “The 400 Blows” released?

Answer: “The 400 Blows” was released in 1959.

3. Is “The 400 Blows” a French film?

Answer: Yes, “The 400 Blows” is a French film and is considered one of the defining films of the French New Wave movement.

4. What is the story of “The 400 Blows” about?

Answer: “The 400 Blows” tells the story of Antoine Doinel, a young boy growing up in Paris who faces numerous challenges and hardships as he navigates through adolescence.

5. Is “The 400 Blows” a true story?

Answer: Although “The 400 Blows” draws inspiration from François Truffaut’s own troubled youth, it is not a strictly autobiographical film.

6. What awards did “The 400 Blows” receive?

Answer: “The 400 Blows” received widespread critical acclaim and won numerous awards, including the Best Director award at the 1959 Cannes Film Festival.

7. Is “The 400 Blows” suitable for all audiences?

Answer: “The 400 Blows” is rated PG-13 and deals with mature themes. Parental discretion is advised.

8. Where can I watch “The 400 Blows”?

Answer: “The 400 Blows” is available for streaming on various platforms or can be purchased on DVD or Blu-ray.

If you enjoyed learning about "The 400 Blows," why not explore more cinematic gems? Dive into the world of French New Wave with "A Woman is a Woman," a delightful film that showcases the movement's innovative spirit. For a deeper look at the life and work of François Truffaut, check out our article on "Day for Night," a movie that offers a fascinating glimpse behind the scenes. And if coming-of-age stories captivate you, don't miss our piece on "Breaking Away," a heartwarming tale of self-discovery and the power of chasing dreams.

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