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Truffaut: On Childhood

Throughout the fall of 2014, the Museum honors the prolific François Truffaut (1932–1984).

A passionate moviegoer from the age of 8, the legendary French critic and filmmaker cut school as a child to sneak into Parisian cinemas. As a critic for the influential publication Cahiers du Cinema, Truffaut authored hundreds of articles, including a manifest that established the auteur theory that he and his French New Wave colleagues embodied.

September's film series, Truffaut: On Childhood, reflects his interest in showing "children's tremendous ability to stand up to life and survive." His groundbreaking first feature, The 400 Blows (paired with the short Les mistons), presented in a new restoration, features the debut of his semiautobiographical protagonist Antoine Doinel (played by Jean-Pierre Léaud). This series is followed by Remembering François Truffaut, October 5–November 22.

Truffaut acted in several of his own films, including The Wild Child, in which his Dr. Itard oversees the acculturation of a boy who spent the first years of his life cut off from civilization. Concluding his trilogy on childhood is Small Change, comprised of overlapping stories of rambunctious children and adolescents (a cast of 60!) in a provincial boarding school.

Past Films in This Series


The 400 Blows

Les quatre cents coups

1959, in French with English subtitles
Directed by François Truffaut
The historical significance of The 400 Blows—one of the first films of the French New Wave—cannot be overstated. François Truffaut's feature-film debut follows a neglected and misunderstood French boy (Jean-Pierre Léaud, in the first of many incarnations of Antoine Doinel) who turns to petty crime as a means of attracting attention. The boy's intellectual curiosity, distracted parents, and penchant for trouble contribute to the haunting final image of his unknowable future. See Jean-Pierre Léaud’s audition tapes here. Preceded by Les mistons  ... more info

The Wild Child

L'Enfant sauvage

1970, in French with English subtitles
Directed by François Truffaut
A brilliant depiction of the real-life diaries of a 19th-century physician (played by François Truffaut) who attempts to educate and civilize a young boy found living in the wilderness without comprehension of human life. “It has a miraculous kind of balance: between freedom and control, originality and homage, the discovery of new experience and the contemplation of the past . . . Truffaut gives us an image of himself as both master and student, the image that contains all we ... more info

Small Change

L'argent de poche

1976, in French with English subtitles
Directed by François Truffaut
François Truffaut’s ode to childhood’s “state of grace,” this sentimental tale is a portrait of teachers, students, and their parents in a funny and wise re-creation of youth. “It ambles through the lives of these children, observing them in school, at home, going to the movies, making do on a Sunday morning when parents sleep late, trying to pawn some textbooks, making painful and hilarious discoveries that, by the time we reach the end, have encompassed most of the ordinary expressions ... more info