Jean Renoir Box Set

06/09/2004
  |  Buy to Own: 06/09/2004
  |  286 min
Rated TBC by the BBFC
Jean Renoir Box Set Film Poster

Synopsis

Three defining films from France's most celebrated film director, Jean Renoir. 'La Grande Illusion' (1937) is an archetypal prison escape movie, generally regarded as Renoir's most popular film of the 1930s and one which, although often seen as a humane and pacifist indictment of war, offers an ambiguous perspective on class differences. Set in a WWI German prisoner-of-war camp, three French soldiers, the working-class Marechal (Jean Gabin), the middle-class Jew Rosenthal (Marcel Dalio) and the aristocrat senior officer Boieldieu (Pierre Fresnay), are held prisoner by Commandant Von Rauffenstein (Erich von Stroheim). The film shows how a bond of sympathy exists more between the German Commandant and the senior French officer than between the three Frenchmen of different classes. Even though Boieldieu sacrifices himself for the two others to escape, the film makes no attempt to conceal what they are returning to once their role as war-heroes is over. In 'La Bête Humaine' (1938), an adaptation of the novel by Emile Zola, is a tense love triangle starring Jean Gabin as a train driver who falls in love with his colleague's wife, Séverine (Simone Simon). Gabin is treading on very dangerous ground: Séverine's husband Robaud (Fernand Ledoux) has already been driven by his violent jealousy to murder his wife's former lover. Whilst 'Le Crime de Monsieur Lange' (1935) is Renoir's tribute to the co-operative spirit of the Popular Front. The film begins with its eponymous hero, Amédée Lange (René Lefevre), arriving at a cafe-hotel on the Belgian border. The customers recognise him as the man wanted for the murder of his boss, Batala (Jules Berry), in Paris. His female companion, Valentine (Odette Florelle), then proceeds to explain the whole story: when the corrupt Batala had been forced to abscond from his printing press to avoid his creditors, his workers had taken over the business themselves. Running the company as a freewheeling collective, their success was threatened by Batala's sudden return.