Similarities between 400 blows and Little red riding hood

In my point of view 400blows follows the story structure of the folk tale of Red Riding hood.

In fact the similarities are I believe were known to François Truffaut. He subtly hints us about this similarity at the puppetry show where his screen alter ego Antoine Doniel and his co director ( for 400 blows ) and childhood friend Robert Lachenay’s screen alter ego are both scheming to make money while watching the show.

The puppetry show is based on the story of  little red riding hood. In the earlier versions of the story, little red riding hood never escapes the wolf. In the newer more optimistic versions, red riding hood fights back with the wolf but the grandmother dies. The tale has been interpreted as a puberty ritual, stemming from a pre-historical origin (sometimes an origin stemming from a previous matriarchal era.)The girl, leaving home, enters a liminal state and by going through the acts of the tale, is transformed into an adult woman by the act of coming out of the wolf’s belly. Similar to little red riding hoods story here Antoine is like red riding hood himself fighting the wolf his teachers, his parents and society in general with his grandmother dead. Red riding hood is in liminality just like our protagonist Antoine. His experiences are preparing him for his upcoming adult life.

The Jail scene when Antoine enters the police van is similar to the part when the wolf swallows little red riding hood. Inside the belly of the wolf red riding hood struggles to find her way out and similarly to the way Antoine’s day in the refinement camp.

The ending in the story of red riding hood is also similar to the ending of the 400 blows. Little red riding hood comes out of the wolfs belly by ripping it out, this signifies rebirth just like the sun (red) rips out of darkness (wolf) and brings a new day similarly at the end of 400blows Antoine is at a similar standpoint, he has ripped his way out of societies belly and is reborn ready for the new life ahead during a sunrise.

Annette Insdorf also brings our attention to this similarity. 

Anticipating Truffaut’s later preoccupation with the emotional nuances of libidinal love, the 400Blows is also a tale of sexual awakening: We see Antoine at his mother’s vanity table, toying with her perfume and eyelash curler; later he is fascinated by her legs as she removes her stockings. The stormy relationship of Antoine’s parents—a constant drama of infidelity, resentment, and reconciliation—foreshadows the romantic and marital tribulations of Antoine himself throughout the Doinel cycle, and offers compelling clues to decode the male protagonists of Truffaut’s films in general.


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