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This Land is Mine

Screening on Film
Directed by Jean Renoir.
With Charles Laughton, Maureen O’Hara, George Sanders.
US, 1943, 35mm, black & white, 103 min.
Print source: Warner Bros.

Renoir reports that when he arrived in Hollywood, he was offered various films set in Europe, but that he refused them, feeling that films made in America ought to be set in America, and so he agreed to direct Swamp Water. He changed his mind for his second Hollywood film, deciding to confront head-on the situation of occupied France. This Land is Mine remains the one of Renoir’s American films with the shakiest critical support today, but its tale of the transformation of a weak and cowardly man—who shifts from Nazi collaborator to member of the resistance—has retained its resonance. In the hopes of both attracting an American audience and showing the Hollywood studios how adaptable he could be, Renoir abandons the long take and the mobile camera for mainstream continuity editing, obediently shooting establishing shots, medium shots and close-ups. Regardless, he succeeds in portraying the ambiguous, muddy nature of life in an occupied country.

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