Le Petit Theatre De Jean Renoir

  • 1969
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Drama

An exceptional coda to the long and magnificent career of Renoir, which sums up his world in a personal manner. Divided into four parts, each introduced by the charming 75-year-old director himself, the picture moves from the artificially theatrical to the naturally realistic. The first episode, "The Last New Year's Eve," has Fornicola, a ragged and seemingly...read more

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An exceptional coda to the long and magnificent career of Renoir, which sums up his world in a personal manner. Divided into four parts, each introduced by the charming 75-year-old director himself, the picture moves from the artificially theatrical to the naturally realistic. The first

episode, "The Last New Year's Eve," has Fornicola, a ragged and seemingly lonely bum, standing outside the window of an upper-class restaurant. One of the rich people inside pays to have the bum watch them eat from the outside. Of course, the diners lose their appetites, and as a consolation they

have the food given to the bum. One of the rich women also gives her coat to the man. He is then seen returning to his riverside shelter, where he is greeted by his equally ragged wife. Together, during the night, they peacefully die. The segment was shot entirely on a stage, with Renoir paying

homage in his narration to Hans Christian Andersen. The second episode, "The Electric Floor Waxer," is an odd little piece for those familiar with Renoir (and for anyone else, for that matter). Based on an earlier project, "It's Revolution," this tale is a satirical opera complete with singing

choruses of office workers rising up from the lower depths of the Metro station. They sing repetitive refrains about their offices and their jobs. One woman (Cassan) goes through life obsessed with giving the floor a good waxing, causing heartache among her successive husbands. Dynam, her second,

finally saves Cassan from waxing by throwing the vibrating, whirling machine out the window. As it crashes to the ground below, Cassan leaps from the window to join her electric lover. The third episode is hardly an episode at all; in one long dolly in-dolly out Jeanne Moreau sings a little tune

called "When Love Dies" (Oscar Cremieux). It is included, as Renoir puts it, to "take us for a little while outside our century of sleazy progress." The fourth episode, "The King of Yvetot," is the most purely realistic, shot entirely on location. At the introduction Renoir shows us his little

theater (a miniature model of a stage) and briefly explains the sport of petanque, the values and the rules of this game. He takes a tiny metal ball and rolls it along the little stage, and with one quick edit, we are transported into the world of cinema as a large petanque ball rolls along the

ground. An old man is seen playing, then his young wife, and then her younger lover. The conflicts of this triangle are resolved peacefully and with respect to set morals in a final game of petanque, which Renoir "firmly believes to be an instrument of peace." The film's finale is also the end of

Renoir's little theater; the members of the cast come out for a closing bow. The actors thank us for watching, and we cannot help but feel thanks for Renoir's humble presentation. What way could be more appropriate for one of filmdom's greatest directors (and probably the greatest in Europe) to

wrap up his truly profound career? Originally made for French television in 1969.

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  • Rating: NR
  • Review: An exceptional coda to the long and magnificent career of Renoir, which sums up his world in a personal manner. Divided into four parts, each introduced by the charming 75-year-old director himself, the picture moves from the artificially theatrical to the… (more)

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