The 400 Blows, a film directed by Francois Truffaut, is a prominent example of the quote on quote "French New Wave" of films that occurred in the 1950s and 60s. This new wave of French films were inspired by Italian Neorealism, the Auteur theory, and Hollywood cinema. The main lot of directors associated with the French New Wave all shared iconoclasm as a link between their films. Truffaut was one of the directors at the forefront of the movement and his domestic and international success with the movie The 400 Blows shed light onto the French New Wave and propelled it into the public eye throughout the world. Even the opening credits of the film seemed to reflect the artistic uprise and creative style of the French Revolution, for it consisted of a very long shot that moved through a city from a bird's eye view.
The film tells the story of young boy by the name of Antoine who gets himself into trouble from the very beginning of the movie. In class, Antoine is a class clown that loves to bring about the laughter of his fellow students at the expense of respecting his teacher. He and his best friend, Rene, is often the instigator of Antoine's troubles. Antoine lives with his mother and step father in a tiny house that is quite cramped for the three of them. Antoine's mother is very uptight and often stressed out, and she takes out her frustrations on Antoine's stepfather. The concept of producing a film centered around a family that is somewhat poor and hardworking is representative of the French New Wave, too. The 400 Blows is essentially a string of stories put together about the antics of Antoine and his growing experience through these things. Among many other things, Antoine skips school, pronounces his mother dead as an excuse for missing school, and runs away from home. One of the most important scenes of the movie, perhaps, is the scene in which Antoine's stepfather takes Antoine and his mother out for a night at the movies. Despite the fact that Antoine's mother is always so uptight and his father is so bitterly sarcastic because of it, the family is able to come together for a night to be fun-loving with another and just purely enjoy one another's company. Eventually, Antoine is forced to go to a camp that is some sort of juvenile delinquency reform program. He feels out of place with the other troublemakers, for their acts seem so much more extreme than his own. He had previously admitted to never having stepped foot in the ocean, so to end the movie he escapes the camp and runs until he finds the ocean. The audience is left with Antoine putting his feet into the ocean and then looking into the camera before it fades out.
The film was at the forefront of the French New Wave because it was free form and flowed to its own melody. There was no great problem presented and there was not a climax for the audience to hinge its viewing experience on. However, the film was filled with enjoyable anecdotes and gave everyone in its audience something to grasp as a part of their own respective life.