Listen to THEME FROM THE 400 BLOWS by Jean Constantin.
January 28, 2002, was a red-letter day for me. It was a Monday, and I rolled out of bed pretty late (this was before dog, before job, so I didn't have anywhere to be).
For a couple of weeks I had been looking forward to going to the Film Forum and watching a couple of François Truffaut movies—The 400 Blows, and Stolen Kisses. These two movies are part of the Antoine Doinel series, in which Truffaut followed the character of Antoine Doinel (played by Jean-Pierre Léaud) from a precocious boy to a hapless middle-aged man.
Most of you know this, but at the time I had no idea. In fact, since I slept late, I didn't even realize I had missed the first film and was now watching the two movies out of order—first Stolen Kisses, then The 400 Blows. Naturally, then, it took me awhile, all the way into the second movie, to settle that I was now watching a character at age 13 I had just seen making a (lovely, charming) mess of his life at age 20.
If that knocked me off stride, I certainly wasn't ready for one the most famous shots in cinema history.
Spoiler alert: Below the fold, you can watch the famous ending yourself.
The scene is very long, shot in one take, and silent for a long part of that. Then the music comes in. The viewer is left with a long time to contemplate where Antoine Doinel is heading, and with no little pathos, because just like the characters in the Up Series, one thinks one knows more about Antoine's future than he does. The music continues, swells, and then drifts way, just in time for the last shot. I was so moved I teared up. Watching it just now, I teared up again! What an ending, and what a pair of movies.
Unlike many of the songs on this years mix, this tune is actually hard to come by, so I'm glad to be able to offer it to you. Here's the ending, and below that is the track.
Photo: Jodhpur, India, 2000 (photo by Mayur Subbarao).