French director Frances Truffaut's masterpiece The 400 Blows is the most touching and greatest of all films about childhood adolescence. Inspired by Truffaut's own early life, it is one of the great coming of age stories that portrays a boy growing up in Paris and apparently dashing headlong into a life of crime. Told through the eyes of young Antoine Doinel, the film unsentimentally re-creates the personal trials in Antoine's life, as his distant parents and oppressive teacher can't seem to reach him. The 400 Blows started a influential movement called The French New Wave, which was considered a certain European art form during the late 50s and 60s. The idea of The French New Wave film was that it should seem personal and freewheeling, where the directors often chose to shoot on location, using natural lighting and often using hand-held cameras which added to the experimental feel of the films. François Truffaut loved the character of Antoine Doinel so much in fact that he decided to use him again, and again, and followed Antoine for over 20 years using actor Jean-Pierre Leaud in four more films. In a short film called Antoine and Colette, Antoine is sixteen years old; in Stolen Kisses, he is twenty-two; in Bed and Board, he is twenty-four; and in Love on the Run, he is thirty-three.
The 400 Blows was Truffaut's first feature, and we can feel that the film is personal to Truffaut, a film that comes straight from his heart. François Truffaut's has said again and again, that the cinema saved his life. Similar to the character of Antoine Doinel, Truffaut spent a lot of his free time ditching school and escaping to the movies, and when the direction in his life began to spiral out of control, he himself had run away from home at the age of eleven. The beginning of the film is dedicated to his mentor Andre Bazin, who was the legendary French film critic who took the troubled youth under his wing at a time most needed. When Truffaut was at the crossroads of his life which divided a life as a film director or a life in trouble, the encouragement of Bazin shaped Truffaut into the great film critic he is known for today, and Truffaut directed The 400 Blows on his 27th birthday. " The 400 Blows was revolutionary in its storytelling, and it was raw and real. It was a film that made us feel what it was like to have our innocence, and then to have it stripped away from us once again.