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Boudu Saved from Drowning – Jean Renoir Top 5

16 December 2010

Jean Renoir is widely acknowledged to have been one of the greatest directors in the history of cinema. Yet like anyone with such a large, well respected body of work, it can seem daunting for the uninitiated.

In BOUDU SAVED FROM DROWNING a Parisian bookseller, Lestingois, fishes Boudu, a vagrant, out of the Seine after seeing the man throw himself into the river. He befriends the tramp and puts him up at home. Boudu’s coarse and irreverent behaviour shocks the whole household at first but he agrees to change his appearance and Madame Lestingois succumbs to his charms. Boudu, however, only has eyes for the maid, Anne-Marie, who happens to be the bookseller’s mistress. Events take a different turn when Boudu wins 100,000 francs in the lottery….

17th December sees him return to UK cinemas with the release of a beautiful 2K digital restoration of his 1932 classic BOUDU SAVED FROM DROWNING, and what better excuse to look at five Renoir films to start with.

The Rules of the Game (1939)

A true classic of world cinema, and a film that still tops ‘greatest ever’ polls the world over. Renoir masterfully weaves eight characters and three tense love triangles in this intricate satire on morality and relationships.

The River (1951)

This Indian-set romantic drama tells the tale of English women looking back on her teenage first love. Renoir masterfully weaves the love story in with incredible street level footage of India, and the film also helped launch the career of another cinematic great, Satyajit Ray, director of Pather Panchali.

Grand Illusion (1937)

Often regarded as one of Renoir’s most accessible yet powerful films, this drama follows a group of French prisoners’ of war plotting their escape. On one level it’s just a great war drama, but below surface it offers the profound takes on class and society that Renoir so excelled at.

The Southerner (1945)

Renoir was nominated for the Best Director Oscar for this Texas-set tale, which many see as the  best of his Hollywood work. It is a stirring year-in-the-life of an American rural family that shows the director was just as adept at critiquing the USA as he was his homeland.

Boudu Saved From Drowning (1932)

A rich bookseller rescues the homeless Boudu from drowning in the Seine and takes him in, turning his family’s lives upside down, in this sweet, funny, accessible film. It shows all the humanity that Renoir was capable of in his films and it’s still poignant today. It’s presently back in UK cinemas with a beautiful 2K restoration, which is the perfect opportunity to see it on the big screen as it was meant to be seen.

BOUDU SAVED FROM DROWNING is released on 17th December 2010