La Bête humaine, the evolution of French cinematic realism and naturalism 1902–38, and the influence of the nineteenth-century tradition
in Realist film theory and cinema
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This chapter discusses the influence of the naturalist tradition on early French cinema, covering the pictorialist naturalist school of the 1920s, the cycles of Zola adaptations that appeared between 1902 and 1938, and the ‘social-realist’ cinema of Renoir. The categorical map of the significant realist French film production of the 1930–8 period is meant to be neither exhaustive nor definitive. The chapter emphasizes that La Bête humaine focuses on a disturbing and morally corrupt social order, which conforms closely to one of the most important features of the critical realist/naturalist tradition in its employment of an indeterminate aesthetic style. It concludes by accounting for Renoir's La Bête humaine in terms of the model of critical realism.

Realist film theory and cinema

The nineteenth-century Lukácsian and intuitionist realist traditions


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