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Best Book to Date on Director Jean Renoir

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

Brief Review:

Jean Renoir
Christopher Faulkner, Paul Duncan
Hardcover, Taschen Books, 192 pages, $ 29.99
ISBN 978-3-8228-3097-0
Edition: English

“A director makes only one movie in his life. Then he breaks it into pieces and makes it again.” —Jean Renoir

Whenever I’m asked who my favorite director of all time is, the one to whom I can inexhaustibly return again and again, there’s only one answer; Jean Renoir. The supreme humanist of the cinema, Renoir tackled every possible genre from comedy, to noir, to social drama, and brought all of his projects off with style and brilliance.

Christopher Faulkner’s recent book on Renoir from Taschen is perhaps the best introduction to Renoir’s long career as a filmmaker, and features literally hundreds of rare stills covering his work from the silent era up to his last film in the 1970s. As the publicity release for the book notes,

“Jean Renoir (1894-1979) was, like his father Auguste, a virtuoso in his field. From early films such as La Fille de l`Eau and La Chienne through later masterpieces like Rules of the Game and The Grand Illusion (widely considered to be two of the greatest films ever made), Renoir forged a reputation as France’s most important filmmaker. Highly prolific (he directed over 40 films), Renoir worked in a multitude of genres, though social realism was his most powerful mode of expression.”

The author of the volume (working with series editor Paul Duncan), Christopher Faulkner, professor of film studies and director of the Institute for Comparative Studies in Literature, Art and Culture at Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada, and the author of The Social Cinema of Jean Renoir and, with Olivier Curchod, of La Règle du jeu: scénario original de Jean Renoir, outdoes himself with this superb book, which is a joy to read and to leaf through in a leisurely fashion; it would also be an ideal text for any college course offering an overview of Renoir’s work.

For all lovers of cinema, this is absolutely essential reading.

About the Author

Wheeler Winston Dixon

Wheeler Winston Dixon, Ryan Professor of Film Studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, is an internationally recognized scholar and writer of film history, theory and criticism. He is the author of numerous books and more than 70 articles on film and appears regularly in national media outlets discussing film and culture trends. Frame by Frame is a collection of his thoughts on a number of those topics. To contact Prof. Dixon for an interview, reach him at 402.472.6064 or wdixon1@unl.edu.

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