- Purchase/rental options available:
"Inexorable Force and Sustaining Form in Jean Renoir's The River": Jean Renoir's film, The River [La Fleuve] (1951), should be understood as neither Orientalist fable nor travelogue portrait of colonial India. Like other Renoir works, it unveils contradictions, conflicts, and personal delusions that threaten the deceptively placid social cohesion of the characters' lives. The narrator's dreamy retrospection on her teenage romantic awakening serenely downplays the heartache and turmoil over betrayal, thwarted romance, post-traumatic stress, shattered dreams, and the death of a child – all of which injure and demoralize the stability of each person, regardless of their gender, ethnicity, or social location. Caught up in a perpetual tussle between formal stability and these powerful forces of disruption and disintegration, Renoir's female protagonists strive valiantly to create and sustain such designs, ceremonies, or patterns that will lend coherence and continuity to everyday life. These forms serve as figurative bridges and protective walls – key visual metaphors in the film – that keep people bonded together despite the forces that, like a ceaselessly flowing river, threaten to erode their spirits and drive them apart.