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First Films

First Films

It takes some master movie artists years to hone their craft, working through ideas and aesthetics until they achieve their consummate creative statement. But cinema history is also dotted with thunderous works of art that announced their makers’ brilliance right out of the gate. There’s no dearth of dazzling debuts in the Criterion Collection, from the New Wave launchers Breathless and The 400 Blows, by Jean-Luc Godard and François Truffaut, respectively, to the still career-defining early masterworks of Victor Erice (The Spirit of the Beehive), Marco Bellocchio (Fists in the Pocket), and Maurice Pialat (L’enfance nue). Here’s a great way to savor the beginnings of some of the pillars of cinema.