Picnic on the Grass
(Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe)

Screening on Film
Directed by Jean Renoir.
With Paul Meurisse, Catherine Rouvel, Fernand Sardou.
France, 1959, 35mm, color, 92 min.
French with English subtitles.

The strange and extraordinary Picnic on the Grass is a Janus-like creation, with one face turned to the future and one looking to the past. The film imagines a world where television is omnipresent, nuclear power is a subject for debate, the European countries have entered into a federation, and a technocratic elite promotes artificial insemination to better the human race. The rise of a politician who espouses this platform is thrown into turmoil by the event of the film’s title. Thus, here Renoir returns to the theme of A Day in the Country,that of the seductive and anarchic power of nature to reshape lives. Further, Picnic on the Grass was shot in the south of France in the places where Renoir’s father lived late in life and where Catherine was filmed. Indeed, the film’s mix of charming playfulness and sci-fi dystopia hearkens back to Charleston Parade.

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