"The cinema is cruel like a miracle." -Frank O'Hara

Les Mistons [François Truffaut, 1957] and Truffaut’s Children

Les Mistons is Truffaut’s second film, made when Truffaut was 25 years old and shortly before Les quatre cent coups [1959]. Les Mistons deals with emergent sexual awareness in childhood. Truffaut notes,”Most films about childhood make the adult serious and the child frivolous. Quite the other way round.” He develops this sentiment further in L’enfant sauvage [1969]; and L’argent de poche [1976].

Godard wrote in Cahiers du Cinéma that “With Les quatre cent coups,Truffaut enters both modern cinema and the classrooms of our childhood. Bernanos’s humiliated children. Vitrac’s children in power. Melville-Cocteau’s enfants terribles. Vigo’s children, Rossellini’ s children, in a word Truffaut’s—a phrase which will become common as soon as the film comes out. Soon people will say Truffaut’s children as they say Bengal Lancers, spoil-sports, Mafia chiefs, road-hogs, or again in a word—cinema-addicts. In Les quatre cent coups, the director of Les Mistons will again have his camera, not up there with the men like Old Man Hawks, but down among the children.”

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