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.
As moving pictures became a reality during 1895-6, Europe's crowned heads discovered the new medium and what it could do for their image. The earliest royal films made in Britain showed Victoria's extended family with a new informality, and were eagerly viewed by their subjects. However, it was the staging of Victoria's 1897 Diamond Jubilee as a vast procession through London, filmed by 18 companies whose products were distributed throughout Britain and the distant territories of the Empire, that showed how powerfully film could project the monarchy in a new way - immediate, accessible and impressive. Victoria's successors, her sons Edward and George, came to the throne having grasped the potential of film. Meanwhile, two of her relations Kaiser Wilhelm and Tsar Nicholas, were also the subjects of early filming Nicholas's coronation in 1896 was the first such event to be recorded on film, but a record of the disaster that followed, when thousands were killed in a crowd panic, was quickly suppressed. Nicholas would remain suspicious of film as a mass medium, while enjoying it as a private family record, until he gave permission for a film to celebrate the tercentenary of the Romanov dynasty in 1913 - the same year that a full-scale acted tribute to Victoria, Sixty Years a Queen, appeared.