French and Italian | Etudes de littérature contemporaine
F650 | 28356 | Davis, Colin

Professor Colin Davis is a Visiting Professor from the University of
London, Royal Holloway. His topic is The Films of Jean Renoir:
History, Politics and Philosophy

In the 1930s Jean Renoir established himself as one of the greatest
film directors of world cinema. In an extraordinary period of
productivity he wrote and directed some of the finest films ever
made, including Le Crime de Monsieur Lange (1935), La
Grande Illusion (1937), La Bête humaine (1938) and La
Règle du jeu (1939). These films extended the range of what was
possible in filmmaking, whilst also being intensely bound up with
the political struggles of France in the decade leading up to the
Second World War and involving a profound meditation on the nature
of violence, the limits of knowledge and the conditions of human
value. Yet the film which is now widely regarded as his masterpiece,
La Règle du jeu, was an utter failure on its release,
rejected by audiences, subsequently banned by the occupying German
authorities as well as the collaborationist Vichy régime and thought
to have been destroyed in an air raid before its reconstruction in
the 1950s. After the disastrous reception of La Règle du jeu
and the French defeat in 1940, Renoir moved to the United States and
made a number of films in English, including Swamp Water
(1941), This Land is Mine (1943), The Diary of a
Chambermaid (1946) and The River (1950). He lived in the
US for the rest of his life, though in the 1950s he returned to
making films in French. This course examines the engagement of
Renoir’s films with the history and politics of France, considers
the extent to which the work of his American period was constrained
by the requirements of the US film industry, and assesses the
relation of his post-war French films to his pre-war productions.
The course aims to combine a focussed and detailed analysis of
Renoir’s films with a more general reflection on the entanglement of
film with issues in history and philosophy.

La Chienne (1931)
Le Crime de Monsieur Lange (1935)
Une partie de compagne (1936)
La Grande Illusion (1937)
La Bête humaine (1938)
La Règle du jeu (1939)
Swamp Water (1941)
This Land is Mine (1943)
The Diary of a Chambermaid (1946)
The River (1950)
Eléna et les hommes (1956)
Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe (1959)
Le Caporal épinglé (1962)