My Gleanings

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Alain Renoir on his father,(Jean) Renoir

Alain Renoir was the son of the film director Jean Renoir. In the late 1930s while still a teenager Alain Renoir worked as an assistant cameraman for his father on The Rules of the Game and The Human Beast. He left for the United States during World War II and he became a professor of English at the University of California -- Berkeley. These are transcription from an interview he gave in 2003 for the Criterion DVD of The Rules of the Game.

from 11:00 to 13:35 in the interview.

"When the first World War broke out, my father was a career non-commissioned officer in the military, the French Calvary - the Dragoons. and some of the effect that he cavalry had upon him can be seen in his films. For instance, he repeated to me over and over again that in the cavalry their was no such thing as a white horse or a black horse -- it did not exist -- in the cavalry a white horse was a light gray horse and a black horse was a dark gray horse....Well, if you think for a second you can see that that applies to everything he did. You have nothing that is just straightforward and cut-and dried. People are always a little bit of this and a little bit of that."

"My father had a knack for getting people to do exactly what he wanted. Pretending for them and for himself that it was not the case. For instance, he would say to the actor, "This is wonderful, this is absolutely wonderful. But you know it may be fun to try something else. Never saying it was lousy. And eventually I knew damned well where it was going. It would be the same thing with his cameraman. He would say, "Oh this shot is wonderful. You know it might be interesting to try it in a slightly [inaudible]way". But he never told them that is what I want done."

"I will tell you an anecdote that for obvious reasons I will not give you the name. On one particular occasion, I had heard a certain actor spouting the movie and it was obviously totally wrong. Well that night I went back home and my father and I met at the door of the apartment and I said, "Oh dad, this guy I'll call him X said that-and-that. He completely doesn't understand the movie. I think you should tell him" And my father turned to me and said, "Don't you say a word to him. When an actor understands his part in a play or a movie, he can no longer play it."



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