The New York Times has an article written by Terrence Rafferty in today's online edition about François Truffaut and Les Quatre cents coups (400 Blows). Rafferty mentions that there's a new print to be shown at New York's Film Forum. I'm going to keep a lookout for it ... hope the new print comes to my town!
Here's an excerpt from the article:
He moves through the Paris streets (photographed with exhilarating clarity by Henri Decaë) confidently but a little anxiously, a trace of unease betrayed by an odd scurrying half-run he breaks into from time to time, as if he he’d suddenly remembered that someone was chasing him. It’s the gait he uses in the movie’s famous final sequence, when he escapes from the reform school he has wound up in and, his pursuers well behind him, makes his way across a bleak beach for his first-ever glimpse of the sea.
The camera travels with him, recording every jerky small step until he reaches the edge of the water, looks at the big-deal sea for all of about five seconds and then turns back, expressionless, to face us in what quickly becomes a freeze-frame: the last, powerfully ambiguous image of the film.
This sort of ending wasn’t common in 1959, and viewers were impressed. Mr. Truffaut, overcoming the considerable ill will he had earned as a Cahiers critic, won the prize for best director at Cannes; the movie was a hit in France and all over the world.
That freeze-frame stuck in people’s minds as if it were a sharp, nagging memory of their own. What looks most remarkable now, though, isn’t the blank still face that closes the film, but the daringly long run that brings us to it, that allows our emotions to gather and build with each short, stiff step until, without quite understanding why, we end up overwhelmed. It’s the movie in miniature, really.
Oh, yes. That last shot. I've never forgotten it.
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