Auteur Series 1930’s part 4: Jean Renoir
As we step into the 1930’s Cinema, we are in the period of the Oscars and the Talkies. Musicals and monologues take center stage. The Great Depression is on and Cinema is the only escape. Welcome to the Golden Age of Hollywood! Movies that are about to play will be the talk of the town for decades to come. But before we can talk about Citizen Kane, The Wizard of Oz, or Gone with the Wind, we need to examine their influence. Because this blog series is all about “cinematic influence” despite acclaim. So let’s stick around Europe and hp over to France for the crème of Jean Renoir.
Renoir the Person
No, not Jean Reno of The Professional, Just Visiting, and Ronan. Renoir, it has a dance of illusion on the end. And that is what he presented to the world of cinema. The visual illusion of what we are and what can be. Through both the use of real people for actors and cinematic storytelling devices.
Using Technology to His Advantage
Film was evolving. The burgeoning sound addition to film needed pioneers to steer the direction of how this implement this new feature. Renoir dived head first with several successful talkies in the early days of its inception. The words could now flow as dialogue. Facial representations could sync becoming much closer to real life. In a way, this is the death of stage acting. He understood that the actors that had been were now hasbeens. It takes a face and a voice. But you don’t need to make it pretty. It just has to deliver. Deliver what? The message of course. The struggle about what the viewer wants and how to get it. Does this sound a solid advertising plan? That’s because it should. It’s all related!
An Unclear World in Mind
Renoir might have had a less than happy view of society, this could be in part to the world he lived in. Consider the wars that ravaged his homeland and neighbors throughout the younger part of his life and career. When his work is adapted through the eyes of American directors, there is difference. There is more joy with the hope of the Open West. Or the skepticism is turned to despise the system, the universe, but never the self. The concepts of the self and the individual are not relative notions from across the pond. The U.S. sees an empowerment in the potential of the individual and the value of self-reliance. But each culture sees its own joys. What cinema truly does is unites the human aspect of these struggles.
Devices and Trickery
Unlike the illusionary fantasy of Melies or Lang, what concerns Renoir is the practical becoming the metaphorical. His use of the window to engage the viewer into another dimension. You may see smoke within a scene. This has a representation too. Smoke can represent destruction. The power of an evil force if accompanying the villains. Then it could also be the devastation of being wretched. Caution to a modern audience: don’t draw conclusions about cigarette smoke, I am talking about fire, rubble, and hearth.
A Lasting Impression
The pun being Jean Renoir the son of impressionist painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir. However, the imprint of visual representation with everyday elements that become fantastical backgrounds in our imagination is how future auteurs will draw from Renoir’s cinematic work. The need for dialogue that expands on the views of the world within the eyes of each character that brings out pieces of ourselves with each scene.