The 400 Blows

The 400 Blows is a 1959 French coming-of-age drama film, and the directorial debut of François Truffaut. The film, shot in DyaliScope, stars Jean-Pierre Léaud, Albert Rémy, and Claire Maurier. One of the defining films of the French New Wave, it displays many of the characteristic traits of the movement. Written by Truffaut and Marcel Moussy, the film is about Antoine Doinel, a misunderstood adolescent in Paris who struggles with his parents and teachers due to his rebellious behavior. Filmed on location in Paris and Honfleur, it is the first in a series of five films in which Léaud plays the semi-autobiographical character.


Antoine Doinel is a young boy growing up in Paris. Misunderstood by his parents for playing truant from school and stealing and tormented in school for discipline problems by his teacher (such as writing on the classroom wall, and later falsely explaining his absence as having been due to his mother's death), Antoine frequently runs away from both places. He finally quits school after his teacher accuses him of plagiarizing Balzac. (Antoine loves Balzac and in a school essay he describes "the death of my grandfather", in a close paraphrase of Balzac from memory.) He steals a Royal typewriter from his stepfather's workplace to finance his plans to leave home, but, having been unable to sell it, is apprehended while trying to return it.