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A Note on Closure in Truffaut’s Les 400 Coups

A Note on Closure in Truffaut’s Les 400 Coups

Closure in film has generally been understood to be the opposite of open-endedness. For example, Bordwell and Thompson write:


In a mystery film, if we learn who the criminal is, the film has closure, but if it leaves a doubt about that person’s guilt, it remains relatively open.[1] 

Note that closure and open-endedness are viewed here as mutually limiting options, so that the more (or stronger the) closure a film is given, the less open-ended it will be. A film left open-ended is likewise assumed to have weak closure. Again, Bordwell and Thompson suggest that


most classical narrative film displays strong degrees of closure at the end. Leaving no loose ends unresolved, these films seek to end their causal chains with a final effect. We usually learn the fate of each character, the answer to each mystery, and the outcome of each conflict (p. 83). 

As an example of an open-ended film, they cite Truffaut’s Les 400 Coups:


The boy Antoine Doinel has escaped from a reformatory and runs along the seashore. The camera zooms in on his face and the frame freezes. The plot does not reveal whether he is captured and brought back, leaving us to speculate on what might happen next (70).An ending can be relatively “open” as our example from The 400 Blows suggests. In other words, the plot presents story events that leave us uncertain as to the nature of the final consequences (74).


Bordwell and Thompsen’s argument could be taken one step further, since not only are we in the dark as to Antoine’s immediate future, but we are even left uncertain as to how to interpret the look on his face as the film ends. This can be demonstrated by the fact that readings of Antoine’s facial expression in the freeze-frame shot diverge considerably, and range from happiness (Baroncelli 1959)[2] and hope (Katz 1982)[3] to uncertainty (Insdorf 1979)[4] and disillusionment (MacDonald 1960)[5].

Yet other commentators take into account the fact that Antoine is looking into the camera, and therefore at us. For some, the film ends with an indictment of society (Allen 1974)[6], for others with a child’s bewilderment and pleading (Crowther 1959)[7] or questioning stare (Houston 1963)[8]. And one commentator has suggested, in a manner that would gladden the heart of any French intellectual, that “At the end, you are no longer looking at the film – the film is looking at you” (Croce 1960)[9].

Other readings attempt to account specifically for the fact that the action is stopped in a freeze frame. For one commentator, this suggests paralysis or suicide (Kauffmann)[10], for others, Antoine’s entrapment (Insdorf,[11] Greenspan[12]), a police photo or death (Thiher)[13] and dehumanization (Shatnoff).[14]

Finally, there are commentators who simply state that the ending is deliberately left open or ambiguous (Sadoul 1959[15]; Rohde 1960[16]).

It would seem, therefore, that virtually everyone would agree that Les 400 Coups ends with weak closure, at least as that concept has been defined in the past.

However, as Richard Neupert has argued in his recent book, The End – Narration and Closure in the Cinema (1995)[17], an important distinction must be made between story resolution and closure of the narrative discourse. For Neupert, the story in Les 400 Coups is left open but the discourse is closed, largely through the freezing of the final frame and the use of the musical score.

In describing the frozen frame, Neubert wrote for example that Antoine is transformed


from a solid body moving through space into a figure of the arrestation of the film’s driving strategies. The “stilled” Antoine becomes an image of termination; the optical zoom approaches, turning him into a static spectacle. There is nowhere for the viewer’s glance to wander. The point of view structure has changed the spectator’s look into a fixed stare, freezing the action codes and closing the narrative discourse by giving a final, impossible view of Antoine (99). 

Whatever else it may be taken to signify in relation to the story (entrapment, paralysis, dehumanization, death), the freeze-frame image is a strong and innovative closure device, signaling that nothing more will happen in this film and giving us a moment to adjust to the fact that we now have to let go of the fiction.

Curiously, Truffaut himself thought of the freeze-frame neither in terms of its possible story meaning, nor even as a means for providing closure – at least if his reply to an interviewer was entirely frank. When asked about his intentions regarding the freeze-frame, he replied: “the final freeze was simply an accident. I told Léaud to look into the camera. He did, but quickly turned his eyes away. Since I wanted that brief look he gave me the moment before he turned, I had no choice but to hold on to it; hence the freeze.”[18]

Truffaut’s original intention was thus for Léaud to continue looking into the camera in live action, presumably for the same 10 seconds the freeze-frame lasts. This ending would also undoubtedly have provided adequate closure. But the stasis embodied by the freeze-frame is even more striking. And considering how open-ended the story is, and even the final image of Antoine – susceptible as it is of radically divergent readings – it is probably just as well that Truffaut had to find an alternate and even stronger closural device.

This example illustrates the fact that closure and open-endedness are not mutually exclusive nor even mutually limiting options, as was previously held. It could even be argued that the more open-ended a film is with respect to story, the more important it is to provide the strongest possible closure within its narrative discourse.



好,你準備好要跟共同創辦人結婚,一起生個 Baby 了 — 不,這個 Baby 不是商業計畫書,而是一個人們想要的產品。如果運氣真的很好,會有些使用者開始愛上你的小孩,否則經過一些嘗試之後你們會不斷的 pivot,但無論如何到了一個點,你們會說:是時候成立公司了。


最近很多團隊寄 email 問我這個問題,我的簡單版答案是:「大家攤開來談,如果最後每個人都覺得有點不公平,那就是最公平的結果。」當然我知道這樣的回答或許還是太籠統,剛好昨天看到《@36氪》翻譯了 Joel Spolsky (喬‧史波斯基) 的「How do I allocate ownership fairly?」,所以今天決定來寫一篇文章,好好的解釋一下。


首先,很多國外的建議都很好,但除非你要成立境外公司,否則那些原則往往有些執行上的困難。首先,在國外基本上可以用 1 元股本成立一家公司,但是在台灣沒有個 10~20 萬資本額,會計師是不會幫你辦公司登記的。

除此之外,台灣的公司法還有一個大不同,那就是公司不能亂印股票,除非特殊情況,否則每一股都得在「面額十元」以上發行。翻成白話就是每印一張股票 (= 1,000 股),就得有人掏出新台幣 1 萬元和公司買。而如果是「溢價發行」,也就是超出面額發行,假設是 12 元,那就是有人得拿出 12,000 元放進公司的帳戶,來換得這張股票。

這些遊戲規則讓「調整股權」這件事情技術上比較難做到,因為如果要成立公司、發行股票,就得有金錢上的交換。不像國外,公司基本上可以用 0 元發行股票,所以可以直接把多發行的股票送給創辦人、員工,來達成想要的股權分配比率。但是這樣的限制,有壞也有好,它避免掉很多不必要的麻煩,例如大股東發行一堆股票給自己,把小股東的股權稀釋的強姦行為 — 還記得《社群網戰》嗎?


好,所以既然一定有人要把錢放進公司,才能成立,才能發行股票,那在談股權分配之前,你必須要知道你們要放多少錢進公司。我的建議是大略估算一下 6 個月需要的資金,包含幾位創辦人要領的薪水 — 薪水最好是相當,必須是市價的 3-5 折,它應該比較接近 2 萬,沒道理超過 5 萬;再加上一些其它的費用,計算出一個數字來,假設是 100 萬好了,那也就是說你們幾個人,必須要能夠拿出這個數字來。


接著談到該如何分配這 100 萬,誰該出多少錢,這也就是國外的「股權分配」 — 這是在假設大家都拿得出錢的情況,如果有人存款比較多,有人拿不出錢,那可以用私下借貸的方式 (搭配「可轉換債」 — 如果 B 還不出來錢就把股權交給 A)。但最少最少每個人都得拿出一些錢來,燒別人的錢不會痛,燒自己的錢才會珍惜。


  • 絕對不能有 50-50 的情況 — 至少要是 49.9%-50.1%,無論你們是幾個人分配。你們絕對會吵架,意見不合,必須要有一個繼續前進的方式,卡死對任何人都沒有好處。創業決策「慢」比「不正確」還糟糕,所以這也要反應在股權結構上。
  • 不要比誰投入的工作時數高 — 創業團隊往往會陷入這個迷思,用工作時間來決定「公平」,記住,產出的價值才是重點,過去也不能預測未來。
  • 盡量傾向平均分配 — 除非有特殊的理由,否則股權應該盡量接近均分 (不要相差 10% 以上),每個人都一樣在全心全力付出,沒道理誰拿得比另一個人多那麼多。
  • 重點是未來 — 不要把卡在過去這段時間大家的付出和產生的價值,重點是未來六個月、一年、三年,你希望你的共同創辦人在這公司扮演多重要的角色,那就應該讓他擁有相對應的比例,來確認他會努力付出。
  • 全部都講出來 — 把你的所有的想法、顧慮、不滿、需求,通通在這個時間講出來。記住,你們要結婚了,從此之後必須不分你我,如果現在就沒辦法承受實話實說,那這個團隊注定要被溝通不良拖垮,還不如先早早結束吧!
  • 都不公平就是公平 — 每個人心中都會有一個比例,但最後的結果應該是每個人都拿到比他想的少一點。如果是這樣,那就是最公平的情況。
  • 寫下來,攤開來 — 最後一步,是大家把心目中的分配各自寫下來,之後再全部攤開來討論。每個人解釋各自的原因,最後再一起得到一個結論。

以上,就是我過去 12 年來看過 50+ 家台灣、美國、香港、大陸創業隊團如何處理股權後,對要在台灣創網路公司的團隊提出的建議,希望對你們有些幫助。


1. I can see your point, but I still think you’re full of shit.
2. I don’t know what your problem is, but I’ll bet it’s hard to pronounce.
3. How about never? Is never good for you?
4. I see you’ve set aside this special time to humiliate yourself in public.
5. I’m really easy to get along with once you people learn to see it my way.
6. I’ll try being nicer if you’ll try being smarter.
7. I’m out of my mind, but feel free to leave a message.
8. I don’t work here. I’m a consultant.
9. It sounds like English, but I can’t understand a damn word you’re saying.
10. Ahhh…I see the screw-up fairy has visited us again…
11. I like you. You remind me of myself when I was young and stupid.
12. You are validating my inherent mistrust of strangers.
13. I have plenty of talent and vision; I just don’t give a damn.
14. I’m already visualizing the duct tape over your mouth.
15. I will always cherish the initial misconceptions I had about you.
16. Thank you. We’re all refreshed and challenged by your unique point of view.
17. The fact that no one understands you doesn’t mean you’re an artist.
18. Any connection between your reality and mine is purely coincidental.
19. What am I? Flypaper for freaks?!
20. I’m not being rude. You’re just insignificant.
21. It’s a thankless job, but I’ve got a lot of Karma to burn off.
22. Yes, I am an agent of Satan, but my duties are largely ceremonial.
23. And your crybaby whiny-assed opinion would be..?
24. Do I look like a people person?
25. This isn’t an office. It’s Hell with fluorescent lighting.
26. I started out with nothing and still have most of it left.
27. If I throw a stick, will you leave?
28. Errors have been made. Others will be blamed.
29. Whatever kind of look you were going for, you missed.
30. I’m trying to imagine you with a personality.
31. A cubicle is just a padded cell without a door.
32. Can I trade this job for what’s behind door #1?
33. Too many freaks, not enough circuses.
34. Sarcasm is just one more service we offer.
35. Nice perfume. Must you marinate in it?
36. Chaos, panic and disorder-my work here is done.
37. How do I set a laser printer to stun?
38. I thought I wanted a career; turns out I just wanted a salary.
39. Who lit the fuse on your tampon?
40. Oh I get it…like humor…but different.

Remembering John Hughes: 10 most totally awesome high school movies

As a child of the 80’s, my expectations of high school life were indelibly shaped by John Hughes, the king of the teen movie. Reality, of course, never lived up to the John Hughes fantasy. I never attended a party anything like the rager at Jake’s house in Sixteen Candles. Never managed to cram an Astros game, trip to the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, a ride to the top of Chase Tower, crashing either of the MLK Day parades and lunch at Vargo’s into a school day.

But Mr. Hughes gave those of us in the Nimitz High School class of 1992 something to shoot for.

So, in honor of John Hughes, here’s my list of the 10 most totally awesome movies set in a high school. Thanks to my Chronicle colleagues, who flooded my in-box with suggestions. Here they are, in no particular order, except for the Breakfast Club, which is first because it’s the best and if you disagree we can’t be friends.

What’s on your list?

The Breakfast Club

If you didn’t spend at least one night parked on an abandoned road with your buddies quoting lines from this movie, you didn’t attend high school from 1985 to 1995.

“Did I stutter?”

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

“Nine times.”

Sixteen Candles

“Can I borrow your underpants?”

To Sir, With Love

Sidney Poitier. A serious dude with serious moves.

Back to the Future

“Give me a milk. Chocolate.”

The Last Picture Show

Cloris Leachman, before the unfortunate dancing experiment

Better Off Dead

“I want my two dollars.”

Can’t Buy Me Love

I mowed lawns for cash in high school, too. That’s where the similarities between Patrick Dempsey and me end.

Napoleon Dynamite

“Whatever I feel like I wanna do. Gosh.”


The first mean girls

Heck, let’s make it 15.


“I don’t know. Maybe there’s two of us.”

Cooley High

“Why don’t you go somewhere?”


Somehow, I don’t think it’s like this at HSPVA.


Matthew Broderick ain’t Ferris no more.

Summer School

I watched this movie on cable around 50 times one summer. Maybe that’s why I married a woman who’s a dead ringer for Courtney Thorne Smith.





據說當年黃沾亦曾打過《阿飛》續集主意,揚言要親撰劇本,將梁朝偉及劉嘉玲發展成一對,順著劇情發展。偉仔演回賭徒,加幾場床上戲,再利用王家衛手 頭剩下的菲林,剪接之前拍下的片段,便大功告成。他甚至興奮得當晚致電鄧光榮提出合作大計,說不用投資太多便可坐享豐收。最終鄧光榮卻以合約問題需要解 決,婉拒沾叔好意。




著名編劇林超榮當年曾被邀請到鄧光榮的製作公司,翻看大批《阿》片影片,這景象至今他仍歷歷在目。「百多呎的剪片房擺滿『一餅餅』菲林,堆到上天花 板。」花了一星期睇片,結果只看了一半,林超榮坦言,未曝光的片段主要分兩類,第一類是NG片段,第二類是幾場較完整的戲。例如,有一幕戲講劉嘉玲跳舞給 張學友看,觀眾看到的是劉嘉玲在樓梯口跳舞,其實當時還拍了另一幕是在空地跳舞的,但最終無用這段片,「很多NG片都很零碎,例如不少場景講劉德華在員警 宿舍的生活,拍攝他在宿舍擦皮鞋、洗衫等,也有部分是文戲對白,部分只有十幾二十秒,連樣貌都未看清楚。」

「雖然嚴重超支,但贏盡口碑,當年大哥(鄧光榮)亦想乘勢拍續集,他見該片導演王家衛反正拍了很多菲林,就有意找些青春演員做主角的後生版,例如找 當年仍是新人的曹永廉、林文龍等人做年輕版的梁朝偉、劉德華,然後串連未曝光的片段,拍套《阿飛別傳》。不過,我看片後跟大哥說,片段製成紀錄片就可以, 但要串連成電影就很難,所以最終沒拍成下集。」林超榮說。

當年有份為續集構思的著名編劇林紀陶指出,《阿飛別傳》一開始拍時,已預了是拍兩集,「當時大哥簽一些海外賣埠的合約,也是兩集一齊簽的,所以大哥 一直好想拍埋佢。不過,當時王家衛正在拍《東邪西毒》很忙,所以大哥就找了當時算是新晉編劇的我們幫手。」於是他便與林超榮等一齊為續集度橋,「我們的角 色是構思一些故事給王家衛參考,續拍當然都是要由王家衛來,我們只是在『榫口位』幫下手。」

林紀陶透露,《阿》片的菲林當中有二三十分鐘是續集的片段,主要是在一間板間房中拍攝,「其中張曼玉和梁朝偉的鏡頭都是分開拍攝的,但兩人予人一種 很接近的感覺。」他指出,梁朝偉在續集的角色,應是新一代的「阿飛」、新一代的浪子,「他和張國榮的聯繫,應是二人都在不同時間認識張曼玉。」

他指出,當時續拍《阿》的準備工夫已做了不少,也有想過找梁朝偉和張曼玉補幾組戲,「當時已搵過二人度期,兩個人都應承了。」他指出,大哥對《阿》 片續集一直念念不忘,「當時都有人提議,不如將這些菲林拍成紀錄片,不過大哥唔想,他始終認為,這些片段如果有一日曝光,應該是以drama(戲劇)的形 式。」

片段倘曝光 應以戲劇形式