BOOKS/FILMS/AUTHORS--USEM4a--1998

400 Blows by Francois Truffaut

400 Blows made me realize the difference between the school systems of the U.S. and France. The professor in the school is shown as a guy who looked down upon the children. . . . He was very strict on them. He didn't look at his students as little children. He looked at them as rowdy boys who had to be disciplined. Also, he did most of the talking during the class. . . . The teachers in the United States are more interactive with their students. Students are allowed to voice their opinions. Students don't look at teachers as someone who is higher or better than them. Teachers realize that children will be undisciplined when they are young. They do punish them, but they also make sure that they do not embarrass anyone in front of the class. . . . The students in the movie sat in the classroom, took notes and memorized things. Students in the United States are asked to do a lot of hands-on things. . . . .I wonder if Antoine would be put in jail or an observation center if he was living in the United States.

The film ends with Antoine's innocent young face alone against a backdrop of the roaring ocean and its harsh wind. It was this stark contrast which helped me to realize how isolated Antoine had become in a world of people who could not connect with him. . . . Blow after blow, society has succeeded in isolating Antoine physically, mentally, and socially.

The way school is portrayed in The 400 Blows, America is significantly different than France. The question the film raised for me was, which system is better? Does a rigid system of discipline create better students or does it stifle creativity? Or is it the system that society accepts that works best? Holden provides the American contrast of the French delinquent, which isn't necessarily a good one. In The Catcher in the Rye, Holden's teachers are very supportive and he gets away with murder. Both youngsters demonstrate the failure of their respective systems.