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Child Protagonists in Germany Year Zero and the 400 Blows

Compare and Contrast the use of Child Protagonists in Germany Year Zero and the 400 Blows


In these two post war European films there are many differences that the child protagonists play,

Firstly in Germany Year Zero, Edmund is more of family character as all that he does throughout most of the film is steal with his sister to provide for his family as the post war struggles in Berlin has affect their family and they have no choice but to steal to keep surviving.

The difference in the 400 Blows movie is Antoine doesn’t help or support is family at all, he actually doesn’t like them because he always fells neglect at home which influenced him to run away from home several times and turn to stealing.

Another difference of the child’s roles in these particular films are that they are both set in difference time periods and settings, Germany Year Zero is set in 1948 in Berlin straight after the war unlike the 400 Blows which is set in the 1959 in Paris.

You can also see the Germany Year Zero is more about the effects that post war had on Germany and the struggles that little kids like aEdmund had it survive unlike the 400 Blows which has nothing to do with the war but the struggles in the 1950s to make and earn a living.

I feel they used child protagonists in these specific films to symbolise the lack of control and innocence a little child had in those days and to almost feel sorry for their struggles to live without doing crime.

Another comparison of these films is that I feel Antoine was always wanting to do crime and get in trouble because of the neglect he had from his parents which upset him and made him a criminal, but I feel that Edmund was completely different as he tried his hardest to make money the right way by selling items on the black market but got easily influenced by other people to steal and do bad things.

Another difference of the child protagonists is that Antoine ends up surviving in this film after all he went through he gets the dream he always wanted to run away to the ocean, the difference is Edmund had his works nightmare as when he founded out about everyone knowing he poisoned his Dad Edmund had no choice but to kill himself by jumping off a high building.

Another difference of these characters is that Edmund who seems the nicer character ends up being more of a criminal then Antoine had ever been as he poisoned his father because of his illness which shows in post war Germany it was a lot more rough then in France because of Germany losing the war which turned innocent little kids to criminals unlike Antoine who didn’t have it steal but the lack of support from his family made do awful things.

We could also see in both of these films that Antoine was more of a troubled individual as he ended up getting to a youth detention center which symbolises how important a family figure is in your life as a lack of a family figure can make you lose control as Antoine didn’t have a Father who supported him like Edmund did.

At the end of both these films you could see that both Antoine and Edmund both ended up alone and Neglected which symbolises what life was like for a lot of children in those days which makes you fell sorry for these characters as Edmund ends up committing suicide and Antoine escapes from a youth centre and swam in the ocean by himself because he had no one else like Edmund when he poisoned his father.

I feel that Edmund seems like a follower in this particular film and lead on and used to do bad things because of him only being young an innocent unlike Antoine who seems to do what he wants and not care about the consequences or actions which you think would be the other way round as Antoine had an opportunity to succeed in his life with the right schooling and not being forced to steal by any dominate figure and has not grown up with fear of the Nazis and having nothing in life, but in this situation Edmund is more innocent then Antoine and he is the one who is trying to support his family in the right way unlike Antoine who gets in to trouble all the time and is sent to youth detention centres because of his behaviour.

I feel that in this essay we have learned that both these films have different positives and negatives as Antoine is a criminal who gets into trouble a lot and Edmund ends up also made to steal and getinto crime which shows that in those times their werealways children that got into trouble because of either family matters or the current situation in that particular place at that time which influences them to do bad things.



GERMANY, YEAR ZERO (Roberto Rossellini, 1947)






Last Updated on February 10, 2019

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