Jean Renoir

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Jean Renoir
BirthplaceParis, France
Actor, director, screenwriter, producer, author

Renoir, Jean

(zhäN rənwär`), 1894–1979, French film director and writer, b. Paris; son of Pierre Auguste Renoir. He made his first film in 1926. Gathering around him a devoted coterie of actors and technicians, Renoir developed a collective approach to filmmaking, favoring improvisational acting, open-air shooting, and stories stressing the changeable nature of morality. Renoir's Grand Illusion (1937), a balanced, compassionate study of people in time of war, is considered one of the greatest motion pictures ever made.

Renoir worked in Hollywood during World War II, but never fully adapted to studio filmmaking. His postwar French films play on the slippery relationship between film and theater. His films include The Crime of M. Lange (1935), A Day in the Country (1936), The Human Beast (1938), The Rules of the Game (1939), The Southerner (1944), Diary of a Chambermaid (1945), The River (1951), and Picnic on the Grass (1959). Renoir wrote the biography Renoir, My Father (tr. 1962) and a novel, The Notebooks of Captain Georges (tr. 1966).


See his autobiography, My Life and My Films (1974, repr. 1991); biographies by C. Bertin (1986) and R. Bergan (1994); study by A. Bazin (tr. 1973); C. Faulkner, The Social Cinema of Jean Renoir (1986).

Renoir, Jean


Born Sept. 15, 1894, in Paris; died Feb. 12, 1979, in Los Angeles. French film director. Son of the painter P.-A. Renoir.

Renoir worked in the cinema from 1924. His first films were The Daughter of the Water (1924), Nana (1926; adapted from Zola’s novel), and The Little Match Girl (1928; adapted from H. C. Andersen’s story). Renoir’s sound films, including The Bitch (1931), Boudu Saved From Drowning (1932), Toni (1934), and The Crime of M. Lange (1935), reflected the development of solidarity among workers and depicted French society realistically.

Renoir supported the Popular Front movement from 1935 to 1938 and directed the short film Life Belongs to Us (1936), made at the request of the French Communist Party. The ideas of the Popular Front were reflected in Renoir’s best film, Grand Illusion (1937), set during World War I. Renoir also directed The Marseillaise (1938), which depicts an episode in the French Revolution, The Lower Depths (1936; adapted from Gorky’s play), The Human Beast (1938; adapted from Zola’s novel), and the comedy The Rules of the Game (1939), which was banned at the beginning of World War II.

After the surrender of France, Renoir lived in the USA, returning home in 1952. His films of the 1950’s, highly theatrical and set in the past, included The Golden Coach (1952; adapted from P. Mérimée’s play The Coach of the Blessed Sacrament), French Cancan (1956), Picnic on the Grass (1959), and The Testament of Doctor Cordelier (1960). Renoir’s work of the 1930’s influenced Italian neorealism. His brother, Pierre Renoir, an actor, appeared in Renoir’s films, and his nephew, Claude Renoir, a cameraman, collaborated on his films.


Leprohon, P. Sovremennye frantsuzskie kinorezhissery. Moscow, 1960. (Translated from French.)
Zhan Renuar: Stat’i, interv’iu, vospominaniia, stsenarii; Sbornik. Moscow, 1972. (Translated from French.)