The film tells the story of Antoine Doinel, a young boy who is growing up in Paris during the 1950s.
Misunderstood by his parents for being truant from school and stealing, and tormented by his teacher in the school for discipline problems, Antoine frequently runs away from both places. He finally quits school after his teacher catches him plagiarizing Balzac. He steals a Royal typewriter from his stepfather’s workplace to finance his plans to leave home, but, having been unable to sell it, is apprehended while trying to return it.
The stepfather turns Antoine over to the police and Antoine spends the night in jail, sharing a cell with delinquents and thieves. During an interview with the judge, Antoine’s mother confesses that her husband is not Antoine’s biological father. Antoine is placed in an observation center for troubled youths near the seashore. A psychologist at the center probes reasons for Antoine’s unhappiness, which the youth reveals in a fragmented series of monologues.
While playing football with the other boys one day, Antoine escapes under a fence and runs away to the ocean, which he has always wanted to see. He reaches the shoreline of the sea and runs into it. The film concludes with a freeze-frame of Antoine, and the camera optically zooms in on his face, looking into the camera.
The film displays many of the characteristic traits of the French New Wave Movement.
“The 400 Blows” received numerous awards and nominations, including the Cannes Film Festival award for best director, the OCIC Award, and a Palme d’Or nomination in 1959, and was also nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay in 1960.
The film had 4.1 million admissions in France, making it Truffaut’s most successful film in his home country.
It is widely considered one of the best French films in the history of cinema. In the 2012 Sight & Sound critics’ poll of the greatest films ever made, it was ranked 39th. It was ranked 13th in the directors’ poll on the same list.
The Fajr International Film Festival will take place in Tehran from May 26 to June 2.