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Parents' Guide to

The 400 Blows

By Charles Cassady Jr., Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Landmark French drama of restless, troubled boyhood.

Movie NR 1959 93 minutes
The 400 Blows Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 13+

Based on 5 parent reviews

age 13+

Calm, slow and super powerful!

Easy to forget how centering a child's perspective in a film with real-life consequences is revolutionary in 1959 (and arguably in 2022 as well). A film that speaks volumes in its everyday moments and reminds us that how you came into this world influences how you see yourself in it. A masterpiece...offering a platform for those who many times are both vulnerable and spoken for but not listened to.
age 12+

3 Stars by today's standards

Based on what I have read about the film, I'm sure when this was made it was worthy of 5 stars. By current standards it had: • no positive messages • no positive role models • no violence to. speak of • no sex to speak of - at most 1 dot on this rating system • language again 1 or 2 dot rating at most • no consumerism • Drinking smoking - a 3 dot rating I would say Overall, there was little action or plot. Very little of that was interesting or subversive. In fact, I enjoy a movie that can take you on a journey...even if it is sad or strange. But a great movie offers something fascinating or poignant that happens or you learn something; or maybe even offers some redemption. I found none of that here. In the end, it was too sad that the main character had no kind adult in his life and all the adults were so selfish/unkind (probably not by the standards of the time). At the end of the day, it made me appreciate the times that we live in when it comes to children’s discipline and parenting.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (5 ):
Kids say (4 ):

This movie's excellent, though a bit heavy for younger kids. In his memoir The Film Club, writer David Gilmour tells how he tried to make his own teen son sit through The 400 Blows; the boy would only do it if he got to watch the softcore "erotic thriller" Basic Instinct as a reward -- practically an Antoine Doinel moment right there. The Francois Truffaut classic (the illustrious filmmaker's first feature, drawing upon events from his own early life) is revered by older critics like Gilmour even though its virtues might be harder to appreciate for 21st-century kids, who have seen their alienation, school violence, and family dysfunction dramatized much more graphically than did audiences of 1959 (Truffaut doesn't even use that easy symbol of rebellion, rock-and-roll music).

Still, there is quiet power in the stoic way Antoine confronts life's challenges and never sheds a tear despite his seemingly disastrous choices. While not self-pitying, Antoine seems sensitized to the idea that he's all on his own -- that lot of inexperienced parents have kids when they shouldn't, and he is one of the casualties. Returning to collaborate with actor Jean-Pierre Leaud over the years, Truffaut made series of movies, both short subjects and features, following Doinel through manhood and his own bittersweet, failed marriage. These are also on DVD, though not as easy to find as The 400 Blows.

Movie Details

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