400 Blows – freeze frame interpretation

The 400 Blows is a French drama film from 1959 by François Truffaut that tells the story about a young boy Antoine in Paris that gets in trouble multiple times for disobeying his parents and misbehaving at school. His rebellious behavior leads to his arrest and eventually relocation to an observation center for troubled youths, which he later escapes.

Although the film is beautiful and interesting throughout, especially gripping is the final scene of 400 Blows. We see Antoine escaping the observation center for troubled youth by running away during a game of football. For a few minutes, we see him running across the landscape, until he finally reaches the beach, walks up to the sea and looks into the camera.

This surprising end leaves the audience to wonder what will happen next. Antoine’s expression is hard to read, and can be interpreted in many ways. He might be sad, happy, lost, hopeful, disillusioned, or uncertain. Personally, I interpreted the ending as a strong statement. By looking at the camera, Antoine directly looks the audience in the eye. He confronts us as viewers, and demands us to think about his story. He requires us to think if Antoine is simply a rebellious boy, or mistreated by his family and society. He directly looks at you and seems to ask you: “So, what do you think?” This is definitely effective, as we are all left thinking about Antoine’s story and what might happen next.

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2 thoughts on “400 Blows – freeze frame interpretation

  1. I really enjoyed reading your post! I thought that it was really interesting. I liked this film a lot! I thought that the characters were really entertaining but I really felt for the boy in terms of his relationship with his parents. The mother character was so frustrating to me that she seemed to not really want anything to do with her son. I liked the film however! Great post!

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  2. Eline, very nice review! I love that you chose one scene and made a review on that instead of the entire film. To me, that scene in particular also made me think. I was speculating in some of the same directions as you, although for me, you did a great job explaining it. I agree that the boy is looking directly at the audience, making us think about what we just saw and how to interpret it.

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