400 BLOWS BFI BLU RAY REVIEW

The Nouvelle Vague started somewhere. Its most significant films are often some of its least interesting or appeitising. But then there is the work of Francois Truffaut and his reflection on film, Antoine Doinel. Played here by Jean-Pierre Léaud (and including as always the infamous screen test that landed him the role) he is a 12-year-old, struggling at school, has parents who care little for him and spends his time puttering along. It starts with bunking off school, progresses to lying about a parents death and dips into petty crime. Antoine also has a taste for cinema (dont we all!) and seeks redemption in it. Antoine quits school, steals a typewriter but is caught and sent off to reform school. Finishing up with an escape and a visual  

If you know film, then you know why you should be eager to revisit or visit 400 BLOWS. If not, then you are so very lucky to see this anew and if you like films about childhood and rebellion, the more the merry. Now, the important point is this, another re release of the film means another drain on the pocket. The question we have to ask is, why are the BFI sending this out to the world again and should you pay for it? First, there has been a release in 2014 from Artifical Eye that was good, if not slightly thin on extras and an average print release. So does this new release, leave that in the shade? I for one, am always pleased to see a masterpiece upscaled and renewed. Whether you are a fan of the film, Francois Truffaut, the nouvelle Vague or even a combination of these (or none), 400 BLOWS is an important film. It stands up significantly. The HD transfer of the 4K is likeable, if not still a little washed out in the exteriors but the grubby interiors have never looked so, well, grubby. The other portion is that the texture of the blacks has finally been tightened. So projected, it looks black, not mottled grey. Another element that has improved as well is the sound quality, that extends past the mono on the Artifical eye version. 

The old, tried and tested commentary by Robert Lachenay is centre stage. Its the best there is and so needed to be there. If the word industry standard ever applied to cinema commentary, then this is it. Also again the audition that is extended to see others but its been around before. Les Mistons is new to many and has been given an airing, though it should be given an upgrade in truth. Many restorations are only for the big tickets. Fair enough. Truffaut, Bazin, Renoir: A Love Story is the best thing on the extras. Its a little academic and somewhat dry but Catherine Wheatley gets more than just that whole film theory things however. Truffaut love is more than just a visual thing. 

  • Presented in High Definition from a new 4K restoration
  • Audio commentary by Robert Lachenay (2002)
  • Audition footage (7 mins): Jean-Pierre Léaud, Patrick Auffay and Richard Kanayan in screen tests for The 400 Blows
  • Les Mistons (1957, 18 mins): Truffaut develops his distinctive style in this early short
  • Truffaut, Bazin, Renoir: A Love Story (2022, 20 mins): film academic Catherine Wheatley’s illustrated presentation, recorded at ‘François Truffaut’s Cinematic and Literary Influences Study Day’, BFI Southbank
  • Images of Paris: documentary gems from the BFI National Archive, including Panorama Around the Eiffel Tower (1900, 1 min), Metropolitan Railway of Paris (1913, 6 mins), and Lunch on the Eiffel Tower (1914, 1 min)
  • Original theatrical trailer
  • 2022 theatrical trailer
  • Stills gallery
  • **FIRST PRESSING ONLY** Illustrated booklet with new essays by Ellen Cheshire and Kieron McCormack

About The Author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.