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1930s French Cinema and Jean Renoir’s La Règle du jeu.

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Presentation on theme: "1930s French Cinema and Jean Renoir’s La Règle du jeu."— Presentation transcript:

1 1930s French Cinema and Jean Renoir’s La Règle du jeu

2 Structure of lecture Cinema in 1930s France – history, technology and competing with Hollywood ‘Poetic realism’ (dominant movement of 1930s in French cinema). Hôtel du Nord. Jean Renoir, cinema and politics (the 1936 Popular Front). La Règle du jeu (1939)

3 Cinema in 1930s France Dominance of French cinema and the rise of Hollywood. Sound Dominance of US films in France in early 1930s: US studio structure vs non- integrated industry. French counter-attacked through regional and theatrical film, and through ‘quality’ vs quantity.

4 ‘Poetic realism’ 1 Term coined by Jean Paulhan about 1929 novel La Rue sans nom and used by reviewer Pierre Chenal 1933 (Cinémonde) about film adaptation Oxymoron? André Bazin – ‘poetry’ and ‘realism’ work together in the cinema: the greatest poetic realist films provoke poetry through their depiction of social conditions. Poetic realism a ‘quiet’ movement, unlike Surrealism, and national not international (‘Every identifiable aesthetic develops within a national context, even if it later bleeds across political borders’, Dudley Andrew, Mists of Regret). Link to film noir.

5 Poetic realism 2 – Marcel Carné and Jacques Prévert Le Quai des brumes (1938), Hôtel du Nord (1938), Le Jour se lève (1939), Les Enfants du Paradis (1942) Key features - atmospheric locations, characters from lower social classes, gloomy or downbeat endings, excellent actors/acting. Appeal lay between the popular and the sophisticated. The first foreign viewing for many US viewers, with ‘art’ movie theaters created to show them. Not a political movement, poetic realism ‘evaded pressing political problems and wallowed in regret’ (Andrew, Mists of Regret, p.16).

6 Poetic realism 3 Hôtel du Nord (Louis Jouvet, Arletty, Jean-Pierre Aumont, Annabella). It ‘replaces a cinema of events with one of people, language and milieu’ (Andrew, Mists of Regret). Sets key element – excellent and internationally famous set designers and lighting technicians. International acclaim – New York Critics Prize for best foreign film won successively by La Kermesse Héroïque (1935), Mayerling (1936), La Grande Illusion (1937), Regain (1937), La Femme du boulanger (1938). Feyder, Duvivier, Renoir other main directors contributing. ‘It is arguably not a school…Nor is it a genre, yet it is something more than a style’ (Alan Williams, Republic of Images p.232)

7 Renoir, cinema and politics Four parts to career up to La Règle du jeu – silent films, popular and theatrical films and Madame Bovary, ‘Popular Front’ films, ‘masterpieces’ Popular Front 1936, and films follow height of Renoir’s commitment and its decline. ‘Renoir can be tied to poetic realism only against his wishes and perhaps momentarily’ (Andrew, Mists of Regret p.299) – in La Bête humaine.

8 La Règle du jeu 1 (1939) Meaning of title. Games and playing appear in hunt, romantic liaisons/affairs and theatre. ‘Rules’ are those of society = power, liberalism, emotional detachment. Violence, death and war Theatricality (1) ‘shows’ and plays (2) confusion between theatre and life (3) ritual Places – inside/outside and upstairs/downstairs, and intermediary spaces (corridor, entrance hall)

9 La Règle du jeu 2 – camera movement and depth of field Camera is mobile, fluid, often fast-moving It is in position of audience watching (stage) action – absence of reverse shot and character identification Characters are filmed in pairs or groups, not alone ‘Pan’ is most used shot, then tracking shot Profondeur de champ – (1) ‘premier plan’ and ‘arrière-plan’ (2) characters shown in their environment(s), often vast, lavish and grand.


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