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Cinematic Techniques in the Film The 400 Blows

Cinematic Techniques in the Film The 400 Blows

The extraordinary film The 400 Blows (Francois Truffaut, 1959) skillfully uses cinematic devices appropriately within the context of the theme. Part of the underlying theme of this movie as explained by Truffaut himself is, "... to portray a child as honestly as possible..."(Writing About Film, 1982). It is the scenes in this movie that are most helpful in disclosing the overall theme of the film. Within the scenes, the camera angles in this film play an important role in accentuating the emotions behind the scene. The camera angles used in this film will be the primary focus of this paper. The high angle shots utilized in The 400 Blows are effective in helping to develop the overall feel of a scene. This movie uses the high angle shot in three different scenes to evoke three different emotions and it still works extremely well.

The opening sequence uses a series of high angle shots to assist in establishing a feeling of childhood innocence and indeed, the child in this film, Antoine Dionel (Jeanne-Pierre Leaud), starts out innocent. The camera focuses of the city buildings and the sky above. As shown from a ground point of view, the buildings are larger than life and intimidating. This is how most children view the world, as being large and intimidating. Take, for example, the scenario of dropping a child off for his/her first day of school. Most of them are devastated because they have to deal with a world that is larger than the one they know, and that is intimidating. The sky is vast and innocent, symbolizing a child's mind. Children have incredible imaginations and are also innocent by nature. There is a definite correlation here between the angle selected and the sense of childhood innocence. However, this particular camera angle does not always hold the same meaning in every shot.

A latter high angle shot involves the elementary school teacher. Mr. Bigey (Georges Flamant), the teacher, is first demonstrated in this film by using a high angle close-up. This angle presents the teacher as a figure of authority and rule. Furthermore it establishes a feeling control. Humans are most likely to look up to, figuratively speaking, figures of authority and control. As to follow with the storyline, the teacher...

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