23 March 2009

Monday art house: Truffaut

The opening title sequence from Les Quatre cents coups (The 400 Blows):

I can't think, offhand, of too many other opening sequences that better set up their films. These titles tell the movie's whole story in 2:30. Note, first and foremost, how the pictures are shot from a child's perspective -- that's obvious. But there's more. The object of the viewer's interest ends up not being the vehicle's ultimate destination, and it always gets taken out of view. Yet the viewer keeps seeking it; he desperately wants to get to the landmark, but he's thwarted again and again. Then, even when he finally gets there, he's taken away. The vehicle doesn't pause; it hardly slows down long enough for you to see the meta-storyteller's name. The viewer is powerless, dragged along by forces he can't control, forces that don't know or don't care what he wants.

Now dig the the last scene and see how the tables are turned.

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