Paris In Antoine Truffaut's The French New Wave

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Another significant element of French New Wave is the use of Paris as a character and in The 400 Blows; Paris is seen as Antoine’s playground for growing up. Most of Antoine’s mischief takes place on the streets of Paris and the audience sees his character arch through the city. When Antoine is inside, he is caged. But outside, we see him for who he truly is. The city is seen as “a maternal space, a mother environment, that shelters the child, protects his games, hides him, washes him, feeds him” (Gillian, 30). This is first evident when Antoine decides to spend the night on the streets to avoid getting in trouble with his parents. René finds him a factory to sleep in for the night, a setting much less romantic than the iconic Paris sights…show more content…
When Antoine later steals a bottle of milk, we see his childhood innocence and desperation firsthand. After running away with the milk to avoid getting caught, he stops suddenly and chugs the bottle. As he gulps down the milk, we see him as a lost and hungry kid instead of the mischief-making boy who has run away from home. Here, on the streets of Paris, his vulnerability is exposed and the audience feels sympathy and sadness for him. Truffaut described Paris as both “magic and sadness” This same sadness is also felt in the scene where Antoine is in the back of the police van being driven out of the city (Andrew, Gillian; 11). Here, Antoine is depicted as a small, scared child instead of the tough, typewriter-stealing criminal his parents think him to be. Pressed up against the bars of the window, the medium close-up of Antoine shows that he’s crying as he looks out at the city he loves so much. The point-of-view shots through the bars of the van as it drives gives a similar feeling to the opening sequence, a montage of shots of Paris as seen from a car. This time however, the bars provide limitation and change the cheery streets of Paris into something

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