Biography of Jean Renoir (1894-1979)

French film director born Paris on September 15, 1894 and died on February 12, 1979 in Beverly Hills (California)


Second son of the Impressionist painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Jean served as a model to his father during his childhood. He was born almost at the same time as the cinematographer, so that it became one of their favorite rides. He studied at the College of Sainte-Croix de Neuilly and in Sainte-Marie de Montceau. Between literature and the army, it was decided, finally, by the latter, and in 1914 became a cavalry school; shortly after he went to the war and it was in the course of a battle when changed his romantic vision regarding the war issue army, until, in 1917, a serious injury definitely retired you from his military career.

In 1919, Renoir was married to Catherine Hessling and began to develop an activity as a ceramist who covered until 1923. It was his own wife, dance and comedy lover who urged him to tempt the film. In 1924 he began as Assistant, decorator, co-director and producer of Catherine, Albert Dieudonné, the Gaumont Studios. Renoir was twenty-eight years old. During filming he met Pierre Braunberger, who later became the distributor of its films. That same year, Renoir undertook the direction of La fille de l'eau (1924) and chose as his wife. Initially the director struggled to control the method but according to his own words, would take him ten years understand that what the public asked for were stories, not technical fanfare.

With Nana (1926), adaptation of the novel by Émile Zola, he addressed a real trading company which spent part of their heritage in their attempts to make a spectacular film. Also starring his wife, Nana was premiered simultaneously in Paris and Berlin. Taking advantage of tape omitted negatives, Renoir rode in a few days South an air of Charleston (1926), with an avant-garde intent, again putting revealed the talent of his wife to dance. During the winter of that year he filmed in Nice Marquitta (1926). There occurred an accident in which the actor Pierre Champagne lost his life and Renoir had to be hospitalized. This tragedy was later reflected in the rules of the game (1939). Already recovered, the director embarked on the adaptation of a Hans Christian Andersentale, and rolled the match factory (1928), again Starring Catherine Hessling. After the lack of success of their following titles, Renoir filmed Le Bled (1929), a film to commemorate a century of French presence in Algeria. When the sound made its appearance, the marriage participated in a pair of unrelated films, after which Renoir took a break as a director until 1931, when he directed On purge baby, a faithful adaptation of the comedy of Feydeau, with Michel Simon and Fernandel. With Simon, he will repeat in the tramp (1931). The idea of this project was suggested by Pierre Braunberger, whom Renoir confided after history, as a modern continuation of Nana.

The nuit of carrefour (1932) became his brother, Pierre Renoir in the inspector Maigret, and from then on they will work together in other titles such as Madame Bovary (1933) or La Marseillaise (1937). In Boudu Sauvé des eaux (1932) returns to have Michel Simon in the history of a lover of art, literature and music, which has as its alternative passion observe all that is passed under his window; all treated by the director in a satirical way.

If in the 1920s adaptation star Renoir's film had been Nana (1926), in the Decade of the thirties will be Madame Bovary (1933), starring Valentine Tessier. Renoir directed the project very differently to Nana. If the technique and the sumptuousness of the scenarios had prevailed in the first, the interest in the story and the characters it prevail in Madame Bovary. Already convinced of the goodness of this new tilt Renoir directed Toni (1934), the story of an Italian immigrant in France, struggling to draw an almost documentary reality. More focused on the psychology of the characters, Le crime de Mr. Lange (1935) has a fantastic element present in the cinema of Renoir, which does not refer to a departure from reality, but a certain poetic treatment of the same. Renoir chose anti-clericalism as starting point, and the religious theme also appears in his next title, La vie est à nous (1936). According to testimony of the director himself, directed the film in a moment of enthusiasm, convinced that the union among all the French was a fact and that was over the eternal dispute: that of the wars of religion.

In the second half of the Decade of 1930, Jean Gabin became his fetish actor. In the lower depths (1936) collaborated with Renoir to make a tribute to the two favorite directors of this during the silent period: Eric von Stroheim and Charles Chaplin. In the great illusion (1937), the same von Stroheim starred together film Jean Gabin, supporting a theory that Renoir had always advocated: that the men were not divided Nations, but in offices; that was the profession that marked the nationality of each one. La bête humaine (1938), another collaboration with Gabin, shows the evolution of the times. Forty years after the entry into the station of the train of the Lumiere, he filmed the Pacific 231 - travelling 100 kilometres per hour-; This invented, for many, the railway poetry.

The rules of the game (1939) collected with irony the class struggle under the framework of the second world war. Renoir had definitely reached that point of absolute control of the technique, a perfect rhythm of Assembly and a picture totally at the service of the story. Renoir had to trace the film on numerous occasions due to the poor initial reception by the public and the damage suffered by the negatives during the conflict.

In 1940 the director worked with actress Empire Argentina at Tosca, but soon began his American period. The first concern of the director when he arrived in the United States was to get a visa for his son Alain, who was then twenty years. To fix this, Alain enlisted in the American army as a gunner. At the same time, Renoir began his divorce proceedings with Catherine Hessling. After spending some time in New York, he moved to Los Angeles, where he met Saint-Exupéry which, at that time, wrote Vol de Nuit.

In January 1941, Renoir signed a contract with 20th Century Fox. There he tried to develop Americans projects, but producer Darryl F. Zanuck preferred that he addressed European French, or as much, as issues. His first title was Swamp Water (1941), with Henry Fonda and Linda Darnell in the cast, although who really caught the attention of Renoir was Anne Baxter, who recalled the main character of the tramp. In 1943 he worked for some time in the adaptation of the novel of Saint-Exupery, Terre des hommes (Renoir always had the desire to adapt some of the works of the French author), but finally brought to the screen La dernière classe, novel by Dudley Nichols, which premiered as This Land is Mine, now under the auspices of the Universal.

In February 1944, Renoir, already married with his new wife, Dido, embarked on a propaganda short film, Salute to France (1944), which exalts the anti-nazi struggle, and who was asked by the Minister de Guerra. While Paris was released and some exiles planned his return, Renoir filmed The Southerner (1945) - which was nominated for the Oscar for best director, - next to William Faulkner. The film was received with great enthusiasm and immediately the director embarked on his next title: memories of a Chambermaid (1946), which Burgess Meredith adapted from the work of Octave Mirbeau, Journal d'une femme de chambre, and that ranked eighth in the list of the ten best films of the year in the English ranking.

Renoir then signed a contract with RKO for two new films, of which only came to roll one of them: the desired woman (1946), with Joan Bennett and Robert Ryan. In 1950 he shot his first film in color, the River, the story of a family that lives on the banks of the Ganges River, and which combines the survival, death and learning, and which won the international prize at the Venice Film Festival. Having already gone through the direction, production, acting and scriptwriting, Renoir tried his luck as a lyricist for the musical French can-can (1954), which was based on the aesthetic precepts of Belle Époque. Renoir had already tried to shoot a film, Sarn, which did not perform, with Ingrid Bergman. In Elena and men (1956) he managed to recover and he unveiled the mystery that was hiding behind the title the day of the presentation of the film: Elena is Venus, but also is Ingrid Bergman. From 1959, the year in which food rolled on the grass, borrowing the title of the Impressionist painting, Renoir alternated cinema with television. In ten days he shot for the small screen Le testament du Docteur Cordelier (1960), in which also participated as a screenwriter and actor, and to which was inspired by the Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson.

In 1959, Renoir moved to the University of Berkeley, where he lectures on cinema, and where his son, Alain, was Professor of English literature. At the end of 1961 he returned to France to shoot Le caporal epingle (1962), nominated for the Golden bear at the Festival of Berlin--on the text by Jacques Perret. He then began to develop several projects simultaneously, though of little importance, and some even saw the light.

In 1967 he published his memoirs under the title Ma vie et month films. In 1968 he appeared on television to present Une histoire immortelle d'Orson Welles, and that same year he returned to cinema to roll a lecture on the methods of work entitled La direction d' actor for Jean Renoir (1968). The director returned to the United States permanently and devoted his last days writing. In 1975, received an honorary Oscar to the whole of his career.


As director:

Short films:

1944: Salute to France.

Feature films:

[Renoir was screenwriter for many of its films]

1924: La fille de l'eau (and interior designer and producer). 1926: Nana (and editor); South an air of Charleston. 1927: Marquitta.1928: the match factory; Tire au flanc; Le torunoi dans cite la. 1929: Le bled. 1931: On purge baby; The tramp. 1932: La nuit du carrefour; Chotard et cie.; Boudu sauve des eaux. 1933: madame Bovary. 1934: Toni.1935: Le crime de Monsieur Lange. 1936: Une partie de campagne (and actor); Vie est à nous (and actor); The lower depths. 1937: The great illusion. 1938: The Marseillaise (and producer); La bête humaine (and actor). 1939: the rule of the game (and actor). 1940: Tosca. 1941: Swamp water. 1943: This Land is Mine (and producer); The Amazing Mrs. Holliday. 1945: The Southerner. 1946: Memories of a maiden; The desired woman. 1950: The river. 1952: The chariot of gold. 1954: French can-can (and lyricist). 1956: Elena and men. 1959: Lunch on the grass. 1962: Le caporal epingle.

As an actor:

1928: Le petit chaperon rouge (and screenwriter and producer). 1929: the p'tite Lili; Vous verrez semaine prochaine (and producer). 1930: Die Jagd Nach Dem Glück. 1937: Spanish Earth (Narrator of the French version). 1948: L'amore. 1956: Album de famille. 1966: Jean Renoir, le patron. 1971: The Christian Licorice Store.

Other collaborations:

1924: Catherine (co-writer, producer and ay. address). 1939: l'Or du Cristobal (supervisor and dialogues).

Works for television:

1960: The testament of Doctor Cordelier (and screenwriter and actor). 1971: Le petit Théâtre de Jean Renoir (and screenwriter and actor).


BAZIN, André. Jean Renoir. (Madrid: Artiach, 1973).

BERTIN, C. Jean Renoir, cinéaste. (Paris: Gaullimar, 1994).

BRAUDY, L. Jean Renoir. The World of His Films. (New York: Columbia University Press, 1989).

GAUTEUR, C. Jean Renoir, the double méprise. (Paris: Les éditeurs Français meet together, 1980).

RENOIR, J. My life, my films. (Valencia: Fernando Torres Editor, 1975).

VIRY-BABEL, R. Jean Renoir. (Paris: Ramsay, 1994).