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Les 400 Coups

             Though not the first sub-titled film I've seen, I get the impression that the more modern foreign movies I've watched were created with sub-titles in mind. Les 400 coups seemed to be filmed in French, for French, by French. I can compare it to, for example, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and see the rushed sub-titling; the simple fact that there is considerably more dialogue. Of course, this could also be due to the differing themes of the movies. I had a hard time seeing much of traditional Hollywood in Mr. Truffaut's creation. It wasn't until I abandoned the normal filters I view film through did I begin to see what he had created: a series of portrayals commenting on the trials of adolescence.
             The film was more akin to a collection of moving paintings than what I've grown to believe a movie is. The camera often holds on a particular image, be it the shamed looks Antoine directs towards his cheating mother, the rejected sadness of him behind bars, or the final, frozen frame of him that seems to ask "Why?" Using this form, I believe Francois seeks to imprint upon us his overall theme. We"re made to remember these scenes, for them to be stamped on our emotions, casting their influence over our understanding of the film.
             When analyzing that understanding, I couldn't help but ponder the film's origins: released in 1959, considered the harbinger of the French New Wave after a decade of war and occupation. The French were a people that, quite frankly, got the snot beat out of them in consecutive World Wars. Though the film does not take place against a war-time backdrop, we see elements that may have been inspired by the occupation. Though light-hearted at times, the movie has a sense of oppression; of a cold, uncaring world. It carries with it the impression that god does not really love you, you can be an okay person and still be misunderstood and persecuted, and the System - laws and structure, are the basis of life.

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