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Title: Jean Renoir: A Life in Pictures
Author: Célia Bertin
Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
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Jean Renoir: A Life in Pictures is the first biography of this master of modern cinema--the director of Grand Illusion, Rules of the Game, The River, and other classics. Célia Bertin tells Renoir's story from his magical childhood to his first success in films, from his encounter with European fascism to his final years as the beloved "Frenchman from Beverly Hills." With the help of Renoir's family, Bertin interviewed everyone who knew the director in Paris, Provence, Bourgogne, and Los Angeles. Using first-hand accounts along with previously unpublished materials, she places this colorful, charming, and brilliant figure in the context of his time, his culture, and the history of cinema. Awarded the prize Therouanne by the Académie française in 1986, this acclaimed biography is now available in English.
"The spectacle of real life," Renoir wrote, "is a thousand times richer than the most beguiling inventions of our imagination." And his own life makes the point. He lived a privileged childhood in the luminous world of his father, the famous Impressionist painter Auguste Renoir. As a horseman and aircraft pilot in World War I, he was badly wounded at the age of twenty. After the war and his father's death, he seemed destined for a life of sportscars and glamourous women--he first took up filmmaking to glorify his beautiful young wife. But soon movies became his passion and his work grew astoundingly original. He opposed the rise of fascism in Europe, yet was approached by Mussolini to direct Tosca. In 1940, Renoir moved to America--where he became the mentor to a younger generation of cinéastes. He died in Beverly Hills in 1979.
"For a long time people thought he was only a dilettante, but Jean Renoir knew that, for him, movies were more than a hobby. He was getting ready to devote his life to them. From observing his father, Jean had learned the difference between a pastime and a passion, but would he ever be as passionate as his father had been? Making movies is both simpler and more complex than painting. You never work alone, and the team carries you along and excites you. That is an advantage with disadvantages: You depend on others, and they are not necessarily teammates whom you have chosen: they can be producers, distributors, or, ultimately, the public, which either accepts or rejects you. Without a public, you can make paintings, but not films."--from Jean Renoir: A Life in Pictures
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