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PostPosted: Mon Apr 20, 2015 8:15 pm 
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Taken as a whole, the "Antoine Doinel Cycle" is a such a stylistically and tonally inconsistent series that I actually find it difficult to lump them all together. The fact that there's a visual dichotomy with the first two entries being in 2.35:1 and in black & white and the final three being 1.85:1 and in color, as well as the constant switch of composers (as much as I adore Georges Delerue and like Antoine Duhamel, Jean Constatin's score for The 400 Blows was amazing and that film's thematic material should've been the basis for all of the scores that followed) are elements I find even more jarring than the fact that the series kept getting lighter, sillier, and less dramatic as it moved along.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 24, 2015 7:33 pm 

Joined: Tue Apr 16, 2013 12:21 am
Dylan wrote:
Taken as a whole, the "Antoine Doinel Cycle" is a such a stylistically and tonally inconsistent series that I actually find it difficult to lump them all together. The fact that there's a visual dichotomy with the first two entries being in 2.35:1 and in black & white and the final three being 1.85:1 and in color, as well as the constant switch of composers (as much as I adore Georges Delerue and like Antoine Duhamel, Jean Constatin's score for The 400 Blows was amazing and that film's thematic material should've been the basis for all of the scores that followed) are elements I find even more jarring than the fact that the series kept getting lighter, sillier, and less dramatic as it moved along.


IMHO, The 400 Blows is an iconic masterpiece. And, the ending of the movie was also extremely well-done, since it ended up being open-ended - i.e., you didn't know what happened to Antoine, and I guess that was the point - it was ambiguous, which I thought was interseting, and opened up a lot of questions - i.e., where did he go after he ran away from the boy's facility? Probably not back to his parents, who he didn't get along with.

Conversely, I find the later Antoine Doinel films very difficult to get through, and even boring on some level. I guess I just didn't care about the character that much - after the first film.


Last edited by AnamorphicWidescreen on Sat Apr 25, 2015 11:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 24, 2015 8:29 pm 
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French neorealism, in 1959?


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 26, 2016 10:54 am 
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This will probably be considered blasphemy in some circles, but this week I finally got around to watching an English dubbed version of The 400 Blows that I have a print of. I was really pretty impressed by the quality of the dub. It seemed totally natural, and it allowed my eyes to focus entirely on the photography. Of course, I still prefer the original French language version, but I got to wondering if any of the home video releases have ever included the dub. I can't find any references to it online.


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 19, 2017 9:43 pm 
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DISCUSSION ENDS DECEMBER 4th.

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This thread is not spoiler free. This is a discussion thread; you should expect plot points of the individual films under discussion to be discussed openly. See: spoiler rules.

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 19, 2017 9:45 pm 
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This week we're discussing the winner of the French New Wave mini-list.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 21, 2017 4:08 am 
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I finished rewatching this tonight.

Right from the beginning I was amazed at how good the film is. How it manages to be observational but still possess impeccable pace and flow. and I think it's that attitude that suffuses the film so very well. It's a working class attitude, in some ways the same vivre that animates the Pagnol trilogy. Truffaut and Leaud are"in it" so to speak, in the poverty, in the self-perpetuating interlocking systems of unfairness, but with no animus.

Since filmmaking is a craft almost always reserved for upper caste members, all around the world, filmmakers, then, now and everywhen in between have either a clinical distance (L'Enfance Nue) or an authentic or performed attitude of class-distance-of-disdainful-pseudo-sympathy (virtually everyone, everywhere), or if they are like Truffaut, they often either tend to or are forced (by the standards of international cinema sales) to adopt ever more extreme-extremes (City of God).

Something this quietly working class and plain in its protagonist would not be seen as "performing" the right amount of poverty (or any other social issue aspect you choose to take).

That is a round about way of saying that many films with characters and scenarios like 400 Blows rarely don't connect the same way because they are often so over-dramatized because they try to "perform" an "authentic" representation of some social issue stereotype that they think the uppercaste film buyers-distributers and cineaste viewers will want to consume (whilst patting themselves on the back of course).

But it's that quiet, banality of all the little things of their 'not-that-bad' (damn things can still get bad fast) life that make the film so very good. Truffaut does not loath Doinel's apartment nor his neighborhood (not like how Chabrol loathes and or is embarrassed by his hometown), Truffaut clearly loves it, and is not embarassed by it and I think Doinel loves it as well.

What I'm trying to say is that so many of these films of youth with protagonists like Doinel display the existence of the protagonist to be just unrelentlingly miserable. What's so refreshing about 400 Blows is that Truffaut finds unfairness and can portray the miserableness of a bad teacher but still finding life and sparkle in the same breath and scene. It's what gives the film so much vibrancy, that Truffaut simply likes everything around Doinel too much to ever cause his film to fall into the normal approach of over-the-top-everything-and-everyone-is-awful-all-the-time-to-you-kid (Kes). Truffaut even clearly loves the unfair teacher, relishing in his ridiculous, ineffective lessons infusing them with nostalgia and warmth rather then penance and guilt--even when something bad is happening.

Eventually, everything does go pear-shaped for Doinel. but it is impressive how quietly it happens and from so little. and it's amazing that Truffaut manages to give an explanation of how each step Doinel takes seems inevitable without ever making you feel like Antoine is ever really that guilty. The common phrase is that we're "on his side" but I think there is more going on than that. We're not just on his side, we're able to see more than Doinel sees, we're on his side, but we can also see the inexorable invisible forces of culture and society shaping things relentlessly to the inevitable outcomes they are designed to deliver. But done unobtrusively, never with a lecture, you won't know you're learning but you internalize the lesson deeply all the same.

The whole film is so very economical and elegant in its construction and execution. It's an incredible and remarkable achievement. a really incredibly impressive first film.


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