Jean Renoir

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Related to Jean Renoir: Robert Bresson, Satyajit Ray
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).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

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.)


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Echoes of Jean Renoir and Robert Altman ring through the wings of "Sunny Spells," a captivating backstage dramedy set during France's annual Avignon Theater Festival.
"The Grocer's Son" may not rank with "The Baker's Wife," but it proves a worthy follower of the bucolic, humanistic tradition of Marcel Pagnol and Jean Renoir, never condescending or cutesy as it celebrates an endangered, stubbornly individualist lifestyle.
A clue to Pialat's ambitions may be found in his comment that the Lumiere brothers were truly original because their pioneering films "showed life, real life." (One of the subject's most striking beliefs is that the French New Wave did a disservice to the world because it depicted "an artificial era" rather than the times its practitioners were living in.) It follows that although the content of Pialat's films can be explosive and nasty, Pialat is often cited as an heir to the humanist filmmaking of Jean Renoir, his approach likened to that of Yasujiro Ozu.
Cassel also excelled in more serious fare with wry touches, including Jean Renoir's "The Elusive Corporal," Luis Bunuel's "The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie" and Claude Chabrol's "A Judgment in Stone."
The itch for change felt by three women living in a poor Tehran neighborhood is palpably expressed in Samau Moghadam's finely nuanced "Cafe Setareh." The rare film equally influenced by Quentin Taranlino, Jean Renoir and William Saroyau, this time-winding triptych has a deep humanist sense and a feel for working-class folk whiling away the hours.
Made with the precision of a Michael Haneke and the social scope of a Jean Renoir, lids powerfully resonant expression of life in post-industrialized civilization would serve as an ideal time capsule item for future generations.
Straub had been an assistant to Abel Gance, Jean Renoir, and Robert Bresson, whose austere style especially influenced the couple.
"Joyeux Noel" deliberately recalls Jean Renoir's 1937 "Grand Illusion," in which Renoir dramatizes his humanism in a WWI setting with a German commandant (Erich von Stroheim) alternating between French and German with his Gaul POWs.
For all of Gerard Depardieu's invasive uncouthness in the title role, "Boudu" offers a kinder, gentler, household-decimating bum than Michel Simon's bundle of anarchy in the 1932 Jean Renoir classic, "Boudu Saved From Drowning." Second updating of Rene Fauchois' play -following "Down and Out in Beverly Hills" with an unkempt Nick Nolte--functions well enough as a tale of no good turn going unpunished, but still falls into the category of Not Really Needed Remakes.
His father is a respected film critic who championed legendary auteurs like Jean Renoir and Jean-Pierre Melville.