The Little Theatre of Jean Renoir
(Le Petit Théâtre de Jean Renoir)

Screening on Film
Directed by Jean Renoir.
With Jeanne Moreau, Fernand Sardou, Marguerite Cassan.
France/Italy/West Germany, 1970, 35mm, color, 100 min.
French with English subtitles.

After Renoir spent most of the 1960s trying, fruitlessly, to get a number of projects off the ground, he said goodbye to filmmaking with this compilation of four episodes that are unrelated but that, taken together, form a catalog of the director’s inspirations, past and present. The opening is a vignette with a fairytale atmosphere that hearkens back to The Little Match Girl, while the second is an operatic satire of the technological age. The third episode, a mere three minutes long, stands as a condensed valentine to the cinema. “When Love Dies,” a song sung by Marlene Dietrich in Sternberg’s Morocco, is here performed by Jeanne Moreau, whose casting was inspired by Welles’ The Immortal Story. And indeed, that film may have also inspired the fourth, final and most substantial episode—the tale of an older man, a young wife and a young man—that allows Renoir one last go at some of his favorite themes: the follies of the heart in both love and friendship, and the ways that life can swerve from comedy to tragedy and back again.

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