Analysis Of Truffaut's 'The 400 Blows'

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Bordwell expresses ‘art cinema’ as a principal mode of narration that became popular as an alternative model during the decline of Hollywood dominance. According to Hayward, the term – art cinema, ‘refers predominantly to a certain type of European cinema that is experimental in technique and narrative’ (2013: 23). Hayward also outlines art cinema as ‘Second Cinema (European art cinema and the cinema of the auteurs)’ (Hayward 2013: 383), which incorporates various issues that were faced by post-war European countries. Although art cinemas share origins from the German Expressionism and Italian Neo-Realism through a historical perspective, these films started being prominent from the late-1950s, which was when the French Nouvelle Vague (New…show more content…
Bordwell mentions that the art cinema ‘often defines itself explicitly against the classical narrative mode’ (Bordwell 95: 2002). Characteristics from a classical narrative mode such as a fabula that consists of a well-defined protagonist, a double causal structure and the cause-effect chain are all features that are absent in Truffaut’s The 400 Blows. As Bordwell suggests, ‘Hollywood protagonist speeds directly toward the target; lacking a goal, the art-film character slides passively from one situation to another (95: 2002).’ This suggestion can easily be related to Antoine’s character that seems to slide from one situation to the other without any clear-cut goals. In contrast to the classical narrative mode, Art Cinema characteristics include realism, authorial expressivity, non-linear narrative, open endings and psychologically complex characters. In the 400 blows, Truffaut creates a recognisable world for his characters to reside in. This recognisable world adds an element of reality that allows the art cinema to be considered as a realist film. The art cinema shows its audiences the problems of the real world, in the real world, through the use of characteristics such as filming on location. Being influenced from the Italian Neorealism, new wave directors enjoyed filming on location for both…show more content…
The 400 Blows looks at the realities of the city through the eyes of a twelve-year-old boy. Bordwell comments that an art film ‘will deal with ‘real’ subject matter, current psychological problems such as contemporary ‘alienation’ and ‘lack of communication’ (206: 1985). All three of these elements are very dominant in The 400 Blows. The lack of communication is shown through Antoine’s relationship between the adult characters in this film. His parents never seem to appreciate him, since they continuously focus on finding issues to fault him. For example, when Antoine’s parents find out about his disappearance from the letter that he leaves behind, instead of searching for their son, they engage in faulting him for the spelling mistakes he has made in the letter. This proves Antoine’s inability in communicating the seriousness of his actions. In a classical cinema, ‘the viewer makes sense of the classical film through verisimilitude (is x plausible?)’ (95: 2002). While the classical cinema is centrally concerned with creating a believable fictional world in where the characters’ can reside in, an art cinema relies on an existent real world in where the characters’ are already shown to be living in. Since art cinema illustrates realism that motivates the narrative, as Bordwell’s suggests, the concept of realism can be considered as an important

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