Sunday, November 30, 2008

The 400 Blows

The freeze frame showing Antoine standing in front of the sea at the end of The 400 Blows is a bit confusing and completely memorable. The entire movie seems to be moving towards this very last scene. One cannot help but feel delighted and frightened in Antoine at this point. Freedom is clearly present, at least for the moment, yet the future is uncertain. So uncertain, in fact, that a freeze frame is used to capture the present and avoid the future.

I am extremely interested in seeing the movies that follow The 400 Blows and keep Antoine Doinel as the main character. This film serves as a very good character study of the quintessential troubled youth. I am sure that as an adult, this childhood is reflected in Antoine as an adult. At some point I would imagine a conflict between Antoine's image and past habits, and a bright future.

Even when Antoine attempts to do well, it is his image that holds him back. It was not Antoine's desire to start a fire with a candle, or plagarize Balzac. While someone without the trouble-maker image might be able to convince others of their good intentions, no one is willing to believe Antoine. While we do not see too much of Antoine's life, it is made pretty clear why he feels the need to act out. No one has ever really loved Antoine, save perhaps his grandmother who was left to raise him. Maybe it is not that he is not loved, but never loved unconditionally. When things get tough, his mother simply doesn't want anything to do with him. 

Other than an image Antoine cannot escape, fate and chance certainly don't seem to side with the youth. One of the most blatant examples of bad luck occurs when we see when the school children are passing around a pin-up. It is only through pure bad luck that Antoine gets blamed, and then feels the need to act out after being punished for something he could not control. Perhaps this is why the end is so satisfying and memorable, for once there are no outside influences ruining and corrupting Antoine's life. 


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