Truffaut on Cinema

By François Truffaut; Anne Gillain et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 5
1959: THE 400 BLOWS

Cocteau intimates the frightening gap between the world
of adolescents and that of adults in this passage from The
Holy Terrors
: “In the absence of the death penalty in schools,
Dargelos was expelled.”1

Interview, Arts, June 3, 1959

What gave you the idea for The 400 Blows?

At first, it involved a project for a short twenty-minute film called La Fugue d’Antoine. As I said, my intention was to make a series of sketches focusing on childhood. When Les Mistons was finished, at first I couldn’t raise enough money to shoot my other short films, and on top of that I realized that they were going to be too different from my other projects, all of which were more or less autobiographical, or else drawn from news reports—I didn’t want to get them mixed up with Les Mistons. Originally, La Fugue d’Antoine was to be a story about a boy who, having lied at school to explain his absence one day, after he had played hooky, didn’t dare go home, and so spent a night in Paris outdoors. This idea gradually became transformed into a kind of chronicle about the experience of the boy during the year when he was thirteen (which was the most interesting time, for me). It entirely left out, however, an aspect that had been very important to me: how it was in Paris during the Occupation, black market ploys, et cetera. I didn’t feel I could undertake

-64-

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