Postwar Renoir: Film and the Memory of Violence by Colin Davis

By Colin Davis

This booklet re-assesses director Jean Renoir’s paintings among his departure from France in 1940 and his loss of life in 1979, and contributes to the controversy over how the medium of movie registers the impression of trauma.

The Nineteen Thirties resulted in disaster for either for Renoir and for France: La Règle du jeu used to be a severe and advertisement catastrophe on its liberate in July 1939 and in 1940 France was once occupied via Germany. nevertheless, Renoir persisted to innovate and scan along with his post-war paintings, but the 13 movies he made among 1941 and 1969, constituting approximately half his paintings in sound cinema, were sorely missed within the examine of his work.

With certain readings of the those movies and 4 novels produced through Renoir in his final 4 many years, Davis explores the direct and oblique ways that movie, and Renoir’s movies particularly, depict the aftermath of violence.

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Additional resources for Postwar Renoir: Film and the Memory of Violence

Sample text

At the end of the film, when Tod sets fi re to his paintings, he appears to be liberating himself from his disabling past. “Now I’m free,” he declares as his pictures burn, and perhaps he is. He has destroyed his link to the 42 Postwar Renoir past so that he can now move ahead into the future. He now seems ready to embark on a new career as a writer. But if Tod’s story is resolved, Scott’s isn’t and neither is Eve’s. The last we see of Scott is a shot of him walking away from the fi re, with only his white cap clearly distinguishable in the dark.

This is the point which will shape his future work. His films from the 1930s express a trust in the people and therefore in the audience: give them the right conditions and they will do the right thing. The wound occasioned by the disastrous reception of La Règle du jeu undermined this trust. By the time of The Diary of a Chambermaid, the people have become the problem not the solution. Rather than aesthetic and ethical complexity, they want glorious spectacle, happy endings and neat resolutions.

Dominick LaCapra describes this trend in modern thinking about trauma: Also prevalent in much recent thought is a resistance to the very concept of working-through, which, I think, derives from a limited if not stereotypical understanding of it as a form of closure, therapeutic cure, or even turning the page of the past. ” (LaCapra 2009: 53) In the melancholic strain of modern thought, the settling of the past promised by mourning and working-through may be fallacious, inauthentic, impossible or even unethical.

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