Monday, February 27, 2006
La Bete Humaine
La Bete Humaine released on a Criterion Collection Dvd.
I note with interest that Criterion has done a release of La Bete Humaine on Dvd. As those who have read my profile may have noted, I list this as one of my favorite films. It is much less known than Rules of the Game or Grand Illusion by Renoir, yet it is a powerful film worth checking out. Here is a part of what the review says about it over at Dvd Verdict, which by the way is a cool web site:
"Director Jean Renoir veers from his humanist work to deliver a blueprint for what would become known as film noir a decade later. A virtual template for the psychological thriller, Alfred Hitchcock almost certainly studied this intense 1938 film that was years ahead of its time; contemporary directors should do likewise for lessons in pure craftsmanship and suspense. La Bête Humaine (The Human Beast) was a one-off statement from the French director, who would never make another film as brutally powerful yet so quietly devastating as this one. With Criterion's expert presentation, the picture remains a rich viewing experience nearly 70 years later, as Renoir explores fatalism and innate human savagery, brought on by co-dependence, mental instability and the heartbreaking betrayal of infidelity. Though a lesser film in the Renoir canon (Rules of the Game remains the acknowledged masterpiece), this is merely by a matter of degrees."
Up until now it was only available on a hard-to-obtain video version of it. Unlike many films of the 30s which nowdays appear really slow paced, and rather pedestrian in the use of camera work, Renoirs work was inovative, and ahead of its time for the 1930s, so it stands up well to viewing it in the 21st century. Also seeing French trains ,and what the countryside of France looked like in 1937 is intriguing. Then of course there is Simone Simon, who is easy on the eyes, and Jean Gabin brings his usual vitality to the screen. A tragic ending, but a great work of French cinema. Hopefully, someday all of Jean Renoir's films will be on Dvd.