Literary Devices

One literary device used in the film is symbolism; specifically the symbol of books. Julien and Jean, though seeming to have almost nothing in common throughout the film, both have a great love of books and often trade different books that they have. Books symbolize knowledge, and it helps to separate Julien and Jean from the rest of the world. They are innocent and have no hate, and especially Julien can be quite naive. Yet it is they who are the only characters in the film who like to read and to learn. Thus Malle is able to juxtapose the rest of society, who understands the issues of the time, with Julien and Jean, who, though naive, have the true knowledge of friendship and understanding.

Another symbol is of the treasure. Julien is able out of all the boys to find the treasure, and he does so alone. This can mean how he is separated from the "real world" or rest of society. Also, right after he finds the treasure he becomes friends with Jean. Thus, although he does not follow the mainstream views, he is able to find true treasure: friendship.

Cinematic Devices

One cinematic device is the use of dark, dulled colors for the whole movie. There is never anything very bright-colored, and throughout most of the movie the lighting is not bright. This helps to give the movie its dark, depressing tone, though nothing bad happens until the film's final minutes.

Another cinematic device is using footage from the Charlie Chaplain film The Immigrant near the end of the movie. The zaniness and happiness of the Chaplain film is used to juxtapose the gathering darkness in the story. It is used as a contrast to heighten the upcoming sadness of the climax.