Seminar: The 400 Blows


Nearly always considered among the greatest debut films, François Truffaut’s The 400 Blows marked a stark turning point in movie history. But what exactly was it turning away from—and what new directions did it point towards instead? 

To accompany this autobiographical film, we present a biographical seminar! François Truffaut’s childhood provided inspiration for the story of The 400 Blows, but it was his early adult years, when he was writing about movies for Cahiers du Cinéma and other periodicals, that most informed the artful techniques of this legendary debut feature. Film critic Jake Mulligan’s seminar will utilize a wide range of primary source materials, including archival footage and Truffaut’s own writing, to better contextualize the form and content of The 400 Blows. Participants will see how The 400 Blows was in many ways a direct response to the film culture of Truffaut’s own time—and then will see how this film disrupted that culture from its first screening forward.

About the Instructor

Jake Mulligan has been writing about movies for the last ten years, publishing reviews, interviews, and other articles in DigBoston, The Boston Phoenix, and The Boston Globe. He is a member of the Boston Society of Film Critics and has led film-education events at the Coolidge Corner Theatre since 2018, including the classes “Defining Screwball Comedy” and “Roger Corman, Producer.