During his career, Jean Renoir made over forty films that spanned from the silent era up until the end of the 1960s. In 2002 he was ranked as the fourth greatest director of all time by the BFI’s Sight & Sound poll of critics. Through his use of naturalism and his focus on class relationships Renoir was able to send political messages/make political points in a very nuanced way. Amongst the numerous honours Renoir accumulated throughout his life, he received a Lifetime Achievement Academy Award in 1975 for his contribution to the motion picture industry. As one of his hidden gems Le Crime De Monsieur Lange (restored to 4K quality) comes to Blu-ray, DVD and digital download this week, we take a look at Renoir’s greatest on-screen achievements.
1. Boudu Saved From Drowning (Boudu Sauve Des Eaux) | 1932
Directed and written by Renoir, Boudu Saved from Drowning follows the story of a tramp (Boudu) saved by a bourgeois bookseller (Edouard Lestingois) who then decides to transform Boudu into a gentleman. This film captures class relationships in a satirical, comedy of manners kind of way. However, the anti-social behaviour that Boudu’s character shows when Lestingois attempts to turn him into a gentleman caused such outrage amongst the audiences at the time that police were called to several cinemas to restore order.
2. Toni | 1935
Toni was released in 1935 and stars Charles Bavette, Celia Montalvan and Edouard Delmont. This film, both written and directed by Renoir, is one of the first examples of casting non-professional actors to star and using on-location shooting. Both techniques later influenced the Left Bank of the French New Wave movement. As the film follows blossoming romances between a group of immigrants working around a quarry and a farm in Provence, Toni is also considered to be a main influence for the Italian neorealist movement. Although this film is not considered to be one of Renoir’s most popular, it still receives positive reviews from critics.
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