Dear listeners, dear listeners, dear Ali, I admit that it happens to me, when I hesitate about the friend I want to talk about on the airwaves, to consult my daughter, who, like me, was born on the edge of the Mediterranean.
Which often triggers endless discussions, drifts, hesitations, before finding the direction of my column. But this time, she didn’t waver: according to her, I had to tell you about this child whose runaway ends up on the edge of the Channel.
This child who had sealed my friendship with the cinema and whom I had therefore presented to her when she was little. She had started by saying: “Ah no, mum, not a black and white film”. And then, at the end, she had said: “Now, mom, I know why you like the cinema”.
This lifelong friend is called Antoine, he is a clever and turbulent schoolboy, with the funny voice of a cheeky adult. He often skips school with his friend René in the streets of Paris. And then one day, because he has no excuse, he spits out a lie that has entered the pantheon of the seventh art, a lie that kills…
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You recognized my young friend: Antoine Doinel, the hero of four hundred blows, by Francois Truffaut.
The shot of the dead mother, it’s a salty lie
But it must be said that here is a kid that his mother does not like. He doesn’t care, she has other things to do. So Antoine smuggles into cinemas in the Place Clichy district. So he runs away. Once. Twice. On the mother’s request, he is sent, supposedly for his own good, to a delinquency center in the provinces, and escapes again. Seeing Doinel running breathlessly towards the sea remains an unforgettable moment, with Truffaut’s camera accompanying him on the beach to the sound of an almost bitter violin.
And Antoine looks at us in front of the camera. The image freezes, the film is over, but the life of this little guy with a drowned childhood has only just begun. ” Mom, what will become of him? my daughter had asked me with an anguish that even a Hitchcock movie or…Jaws couldn’t have provoked. After the Channel*,* was this bullied, unloved child going to experience another setback?
Jean-Pierre Léaud grew up and Antoine Doinel continued to be your friend
Yes Ali, after this film which remains overwhelming and of an absolute modernity and very documented on loneliness and the psychology of childhood, we find my friend at 17 years old in Anthony and Colettethen in love with Christine in stolen kissesthen married to her in Conjugal Domicile, then in full divorce in love on the run. In stolen kisses, in navy blue pajamas in front of his mirror, he repeats almost without breathing, as in apnea, the names of the women he loves and then his own name as if he wanted to be sure to exist: Antoine Doinel, Antoine Doinel, Antoine Doinel!!! Each time, I want to interrupt him, my friend, and reassure him: yes Antoine, it’s you. You who, while running away to the sea when you were a kid in 1959, became the father of the New Wave. You the kid, hero of an intimate saga, you made whole generations permeable to the cinema. That round, Antoine, you won.