‘Renoir americain’
in Jean Renoir
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Critics seem to assume a dehistoricised and homogenised America that is somehow the antithesis of France. Perhaps this is because 'Renoir américain' was seen on European screens when the cold war was raging and the world seemed polarised between two monolithic blocs. This chapter retains Christopher Faulkner's notion of the ideological shift in Jean Renoir but suggests a more complex toing and froing before Frontist values are finally abandoned. Renoir experienced the United States as a refuge, a haven of freedom in a world where freedom was increasingly in short supply. The chapter suggests that Swamp Water and The Southerner can be seen as an outsider's engagement with myths of America. This Land is Mine and Diary of a Chambermaid, while noticeably inflected by Hollywood, have clear links to Renoir's Popular Front films. The Woman on the Beach and The River show men psychologically or physically maimed by the fighting.


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