► Choix de Philip Crowther (journaliste et correspondant international pour Associated Press)
Les Quatre Cents Coups
France 1959 | vo | 99’ | De : François Truffaut | Avec : Jean-Pierre Léaud, Albert Rémy, Claire Maurier
Un garçon de douze ans, incompris de tous, s’enfuit, vole et est envoyé dans un centre de redressement dont il s’évade…
Long version :
« There is no better ending in the history of cinema. Director François Truffaut literally ran out of film, or so I was told when I first studied the “Nouvelle vague”. So that’s where this coming-of-age story ends, with Antoine running from the juvenile delinquents detention centre onto an empty Normandy beach and turning straight to the camera. Freeze frame. Zoom. The end.
I have found no proof that Truffaut really did run out of film, but I like the myth I was led to believe. The first time I saw Les 400 coups was at the Luxembourg Cinémathèque, where it came to an even more abrupt stop: the last reel of film was damaged. Antoine never even made it to the beach in this particular version. The look on people’s faces, turning around to gaze up at the projectionist’s booth, was wonderful. “Is that it?”, we all asked ourselves when the lights went on, faced with a trick Truffaut himself could have played on us. I like to think the director would have enjoyed our bemused reaction.
Most of my film education happened in the Cinémathèque on the Theaterplaz. What a magical place to discover the history of cinema, and to escape from the complex world outside its four walls. My first steps into cinéphilie coincided with a retrospective of French New Wave films, some of which were so pretentious it hurt, while others showed me how there was a place for storytelling in cinema outside the mainstream, in terms of both style and narrative.
The Cinémathèque tells me it now has a new copy of Les 400 coups. So you’ll see the ending Truffaut maybe never intended in all its glory. » (Philip Crowther)