Today marks what would’ve been François Truffaut’s 80th birthday had he not passed away at the age of 52 in 1984. There are plenty of people out there who could offer much grander tributes to the great director, but I will say personally that as much as I love my classical Hollywood films (and it’s definately a lot), the first time I saw The 400 Blows it resonated deeply with me in a way that few films have. It’s that joy of watching something that is artistic and beautifully put together that also touches you personally on some level. My upbringing reflects nothing of Antoine Doinel’s, but there are moments in that film that remind us all of childhood, and that spirit of rebellion that we wanted to join or perhaps did.
I think Jean-Luc Godard captured perfectly what this film meant then, at the start of the film movement that became the French New Wave, and what it still embodies today:
“To sum up, what shall I say? This: Les 400 Coups will be a film signed Frankness. Rapidity. Art. Novelty. Cinematograph. Originality. Impertinence. Seriousness. Tragedy. Renovation. Ubu-Roi. Fantasy. Ferocity. Affection. Universality. Tenderness.”1
So happy birthday to a master that I greatly admire, a wonderful filmmaker, writer and critic who above all loved the cinema and gave back such amazing work for us all to enjoy and appreciate.