Monday, 12 May 2014
MAY 12, 2014
LE DEJEUNER SUR L'HERBE/ Picnic on the Grass (1959) Dir: Jean Renoir. ***
If the picture above conjures up the work of Jean Renoir's famous father there can be no doubt that this was intentional on the part of the director. The sixty-five year old Renoir chose to film this at his ancestral home, his father's studio and where he met his first wife. Renoir was quite literally going back to his roots. A famous biologist (Paul Meurisse) wishes to promote his theories about artificial insemination over passion and to this end a press conference is arranged at a beautiful picnic spot. Into this wanders an old goatherd and his goat. As the old man begins to play his flute a high wind arise as if by magic and disrupts the picnic. After the wind has subsided all of those present begin to discover their primal human passions. The Pan/Satyr imagery had appeared before in Renoir's work. I'll be honest and say this is not one of my favourite Renoir films although it seems much admired among his last handful of movies (only two more would follow) but I certainly would not discourage anybody from seeing it. It has great moments (I found the tree montage strangely moving for some reason) and I certainly enjoyed it more than ELENA AND THE MEN, but I still had the feeling that with very little effort the story could be remade as a Carry On film. I liked it more on the second viewing.