24. The 400 Blows (1959)
Director: Francois Truffaut
Screenwriter: Marcel Moussy and François Truffaut
The French New Wave forged its identity with The 400 Blows and its haunting final freeze frame. Francois Truffaut's semi-autobiographical coming-of-ager follows Antoine Doinel (Jean-Pierre Léaud), a misfit adolescent neglected by his parents, schools and eventually the legal system.
When Doinel has finally had enough of adults and their constant failings, he bolts, running towards the ocean as he has always dreamed and then turns back towards the camera. The camera captures Doinel in a mesmerizing freeze frame, trapping him in adolescence while zooming in to leave him no space to move or grow. The freeze frame, uncommon at the time, is widely considered to symbolize death. In the case of Antoine Doinel, it's the death of innocence and hope. —Rad S.