François Truffaut's feature-length debut, #The400Blows, stunned the 1959 Cannes Film Festival and earned the filmmaker the award for Best Director — making him the youngest person to ever take home the prize at the time — and solidified his spot as a master of the French New Wave.
The beloved tale of Parisian school boy Antoine Doinel trying to find his place in a world full of unimaginative adults continues to be widely watched around the world to this day. But as time goes on, pieces of the film's cinematic history are beginning to fade. Here are eight awesome facts about Truffaut's masterpiece you may not have been aware of.
1. The Film Is Dedicated To André Bazin
After Truffaut was imprisoned for being a conscientious objector to the Indochina War, no one would have or hire him except for André Bazin, a friend and mentor who encouraged him to start a career in journalism. So close were the two that after Bazin died on the first day of the film's shooting, Truffaut declared that he no longer had any parents.
2. The Director Of Photography Took Home The Biggest Salary
As this was Truffaut's first feature-length film, he wanted to be sure to have the best picture and lighting possible. In order to make that happen, he enlisted the help of the experienced Henri Decaë, who had worked with Claude Chabrol, Jean-Pierre Melville, and Louis Malle on various films.
3. Truffaut Didn't Speak To His Parents For Three Years Following The Film's Release
The auteur didn't exactly paint the most loving of family portraits in the film —something which left his mother and step-father incensed after viewing it. The negative attention put on the couple by the press only made matters worse, and instead of speaking up for them, Truffaut spent the next three years estranged from them. They eventually made up, but he never denied the autobiographical nature of the story.
4. According To The Rules Of French Cinema, The Director Wasn't Qualified To Make The Film
All aspiring directors were required to first complete three internships, two stints as a film's Second Assistant Director and three as First Assistant Director before being allowed to realize their own films. Truffaut hadn't ever been on any film sets besides his two previous short films, which meant he'd have to plead with the CNC (Centre National du Cinéma) to grant him approval in the form of a waiver.
5. 'The 400 Blows' Pays A Nod To The New Wave
The movie Antoine and his parents go to see is Jacques Rivette's #ParisBelongsToUs. Rivette was a friend of the director's and fellow New Wave filmmaker. Truffaut regularly supported and promoted his friends' work, often lending them money to see their films actualized.
6. Antoine's Classmates Were Boys Who Auditioned For His Role
Before discovering Jean-Pierre Léaud, many boys tested for the iconic role. Though there could only be one Antoine, the other children were given the opportunity to make up the students in Antoine's classroom, undoubtedly leaving the actors inspired and motivated them to keep following their dreams.
7. Philippe De Brocca Was The First Assistant Director
8. There Was Always Something Interrupting The Shooting Of The Film
It's safe to say that the set of the film was as rife with antics as the film itself. One infamous incident included a bar owner accusing 14-year-old lead actor #JeanPierreLeaud of stealing from him and insulting him. Perhaps Léaud was simply a fan of method acting.
Are you a fan of The 400 Blows? Let me know what you think of the film and the article in a comment below.