Apr 14, 2009

19th April 2009 ; Jean Renoir's ' The River'

The River
A film by Jean Renoir
Year : 1951
Country : India
Runtime : 99 min
19th April 2009 ; 5.45 pm
Ashwin Hospital auditorium
Call 94430 39630

The film is one of the simplest and most beautiful by Jean Renoir (1894-1979), one of the greatest directors in the history of cinema.

Based on the novel by Rumer Godden, who was born in India and lived here many years, it remembers her childhood seen through the eyes of a young girl named Harriet (Patricia Walters), who falls in love with the new neighbor. He is Capt. John (Thomas E. Breen), an American who lost a leg in the war and now has come to live with his cousin, Mr. John (Arthur Shields).
We meet Harriet's family: Her parents, her three sisters, her brother Bogey. We also meet Mr. John's daughter Melanie (Radha), whose Hindu mother has died, and Valerie (Adrienne Corri), whose father owns the jute factory that Harriett's father manages. There are others: The family's nanny, the young Indian man who courts Melanie, the Sikh gatekeeper, the young Indian boy who is Bogey's playmate.
Renoir insisted on filming it on location in India, which he did with his nephew Claude Renoir as cameraman (and young Satyajit Ray as an assistant director). It was the first Technicolor film made in India. The budget was small. There were no stars, and some of the players had never acted before.
Films have grown so aggressive and jittery that it takes patience to calm down into one like "The River." Its most dramatic moment takes place offscreen. Renoir is not interested in emotional manipulation but in regarding lives as they are lived. Not everyone we like need be successful, and not everyone we dislike need fail. All will be sorted out in the end -- or perhaps not, which is also the way time passes and lives resolve themselves.

Jean Renoir

Son of the famous Impressionist painter Pierre Auguste, Jean Renoir had a happy childhood. Pierre Renoir was his brother, and Claude Renoir was his nephew. After the end of World War I, where he won the Croix de Guerre, he moved from scriptwriting to filmmaking. He married Catherine Hessling, for whom he began to make movies; he wanted to make a star of her. His next partner was Marguerite Renoir, whom he never married, although she took his name. He left France in 1941 during the German invasion of France during World War II and became a naturalized US citizen.

Jean Renoir with mother - painting by Renoir's father , the great impressionist master Auguste Renoir

As a director and actor, he made more than forty films from the silent era to the end of the 1960s. As an author, he wrote the definitive biography of his father, Renoir, My Father (1962). Renoir exerted immense influence on subsequent auteur directors, including among others Orson Welles, Satyajit Ray, and François Truffaut. Best remembered for such cinematic landmarks as Grand Illusion (1937) and The Rules of the Game (1939), Renoir is considered one of the major figures of French and international film history.

Renoir's films were underestimated when they first came out. They were unconventional, complex, and so energetic and technically daring that few noticed their intricate structure. They were often dismissed as rough, not fully achieved artistically. The generation that came to the cinema in the '60s and '70s (perhaps the richest and most diverse era in European cinema) recognised Renoir as an ancestor who had already made the kind of films they admired or were setting out to make themselves, and justly hailed them as masterpieces.

Shooting of 'The River"

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