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Trufaut's 400 Blows back at the Brattle

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Brattle reruns Truffauts 400 Blows

Truffaut classic at the Brattle

Truffaut back at the Brattle

Truffaut back at Brattle

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The 400 Blows, directed by Fran,cois Truffaut, starring Jean-Pierre Leaud; at the Brattle Theatre, daily at 4, 6, 8 and 10 pm, through April 13.

When Fran,cois Truffaut died last Fall, he left a legacy of brilliant films, as well as a feeling of sorrow for what might have been added, had he lived longer than his fifty-two years. Arguably the greatest French director of his time, he consistently produced masterpieces in the twenty-five years of his directing activity.

The Brattle Theatre is currently rerunning his first great work, The 400 Blows (Les 400 Coups), made in 1958. It is a landmark in film history: it started the French New Wave (Nouvelle Vague), with its use of relatively simple technical means and its solid commitment to reality outside the film studios.

For Truffaut, as for his Italian Neorealist counterparts fifteen years earlier (and indeed for any "realist" form of art), a commitment to reality meant an awareness of life-determining mechanisms beyond human control, implying a feeling for the potentially tragic nature of life. In The 400 Blows (which is partly autobiographic), these features are demonstrated in the struggle of a schoolboy with his surroundings.

At school, he is severely punished for futile causes and humiliated in front of his classmates. At home, he is merely an unwanted appendage to his parents' unhappy marriage. His sincere efforts to adapt to his environment's standards come to nothing, or even aggravate his situation.

The dramatic content of the storyline and the irreproachable acting are complemented by superior handling of the camera. Truffaut fully exploits his freedom of choosing the perspective. From the first moments, during which the camera tours the streets of Paris showing the buildings looming above, to the agitation of the final scenes, the film unfolds a sequence of captivating shots -- angle and steadiness boldly adapted to the rhythm and atmosphere of the action.

The film is a must-see for anybody seriously interested in film as a form of art. Its impact is enhanced by the quality of the new 35mm print used at the Brattle.

After The 400 Blows, the Brattle will show its successor, the even more acclaimed Jules and Jim. Note, however, that Jules and Jim will also be shown by LSC, on April 19.

Michiel Bos->