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The River  [DVD]
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A film by Jean Renoir
A story based on the immemorial themes of childhood, love and death ... Jean Renoir
Jean Renoir's intoxicating first colour feature shot entirely on location in India is a lyrical adaptation of Rumer Godden's autobiographical coming-of-age tale of an adolescent girl living with her English family on the banks of West Bengal during the waning years of British Colonial life.
Exquisitely shot in luminous Technicolor by Renior's nephew Claude, The River is a visual tour de force and a glorious, meditative tribute to the sights and sounds of Indian culture.
Perhaps, Renoir's most symbolic and spiritual film, displaying great humanity and refreshing simplicity. The River received tremendous international acclaim and remains one of his most popular films.
Winner of International Prize at Cannes in 1951
- New High Definition digital transfer
- Specially commissioned introduction to The River by Indian filmmaker Kumar Shahani
- Seven short films set in India (1899-1945) from the BFI National Film and Television Archive
- Fully illustrated booklet including essay and Rumer Godden interview by David Thompson
France, India, USA | 1951| colour | English language, optional English hard-of-hearing subtitles | 99 minutes | 2 disc set |Original aspect ratio 1.33:1 | Region 2 DVD
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Top Customer Reviews
Shot on location in 1951, this adaptation of Rumer `Black Narcissus' Godden's semi-autobiographical novel was Renoir's first excursion into colour - and not the least of its pleasures are visual, its gently idealised Bengal rendered in unostentatious dappled greens by cinematographer Claude Renoir.
The acting may now seem wooden now, but the feelings, thoughts and emotions are only too real. This great little movie encompasses the whole cycle of life and is told with a stoic wisdom and simplicity that's as beautiful as it is moving.
The extra features on a second disc are also worthwhile. I'm not sure why but they don't get a mention in Amazon's description. Here is what you get (as described by the BFI):
"Specially commissioned filmed introduction to The River by Indian filmmaker Kumar Shahani
Seven rarely-seen short films set in India (1899-1945), preserved in the BFI National Archive. Among them are two silent films showing the changes in jute production and two 1930s films photographed in Technicolor by British cinematographer Jack Cardiff
Fully illustrated 24-page booklet including film essay and Rumer Godden interview by David Thompson; director biography and notes on the seven short films"
Changes in jute production? Unmissable! I'd started to worry that the differences I kept noticing between early and mid 20th century sacking were all in my mind. Now I know I'm not going crazy after all. Do you get the feeling that the BFI aren't the greatest marketing experts?Read more ›
Typical of Renoir, the films story is rather inconsequential to the film itself. It is simply a canvas for him to splash gorgeous colours across and bask in the sights and sounds of India. It captures a moment in time, all the while being conscious that the celestial clock is ever ticking. The vast meandering river of the story simply conveys the inexorable passage of time. Shot in a documentary style the film follows the lives and loves of the family of a British jute mill owner on the banks of the Ganges river in Bengal India. The ills of colonialism is really not an issue with this film, it is simply an impartial snap shot of a moment in time, captured by Renoir's artists eye. Ray himself was to provide a greater Bengali flavour with his own films.Read more ›
The River tells its story through three girls on the brink of adulthood. Harriet, the daughter of the English manager of a jute mill on the banks of the Ganges; Radha, the daughter of their English neighbor whose mother was Indian; and Valerie, the daughter of a wealthy English couple whom we never meet. The three are close friends but each is dealing with with their changes in their own way. Then one day the American cousin of their neighbor arrives to stay for awhile. He lost his leg in the war and is handsome. All the girls develop feelings for him and suddenly their own feelings for each other begin to change. And he has problems of his own. He hasn't come to grips with having only one leg, nor with what he feels is the pity toward him he has encountered. The reality of his life weighs on him. As the most mature of the girls tells him, "After a war yesterday's hero is only a man with one leg."
The story is told through the narration of Harriet as an adult. "Suddenly" she says, "we were running away from childhood and rushing toward love." In the course of four seasons they experience the ebb and flow of emotions just as the river ebbs and flows. There is a death, a birth, and life goes on. And by the end of the movie they, and we, have learned a good deal more about ourselves.
I like this movie a lot, and I have a great respect for it.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Jean Renoirs first movie in colour is a beautiful rites of passage drama set in Bengal. Based on a novel by Rummer Godden the story revolves around an English family in India and... Read morePublished 16 months ago by Brendan Keane
A strange and wonderful mix of documentary and studio modes, all shot on location in Bengal in 1950. Read morePublished 20 months ago by John G
Not as good as I'd remembered it on a class trip at school, but OK as an adaptation.Published 23 months ago by Nerissa Roehrs
The film looks beautiful, as you would expect from Jean Renoir, but the acting is mostly wooden or worse, and the story is badly told. Read morePublished on 19 May 2014 by Regular customer
If you make allowances for the age of this film, you will appreciate its beauty. Storyline predictable, but still moving. Worth watching.