Search this blog

Nov 15, 2016

The River or Le Fleuve

The River meandered in and met me on one of my many internet jaunts. Never knew of this movie's existence before a search for 'a movie to calm your mind' brought it up in on the inter-webs.

This Jean Renoir film from 1951 is one of the most accurate and realistic depictions of India from a Western perspective. There is even a question that one of the characters - new to the subcontinent asks a long time settler from the West, that whether he would see any person climbing on the rope and vanish into nothingness and the settler answers in the negative. Even today that is the kind of India the West has come to believe exists, but nothing could be farther than reality, even in 1951.

It is a coming of a age movie with real blood and bone characters. As someone brought up in India in the latter half of twentieth century who has never seen any Caucasians living as residents of the country, it was interesting and informative to see how the whites (not just the ruling class of British citizens) co-existed with the locals and how common it was in pre-independent India.

The story is set in Bengal in an area which falls in the present day Bangladesh. The Indians in the story celebrate Hindu festivals of Diwali and Holi. The director Jean Renoir shows the landscape of India in vibrant colors, but none which feels synthetic like a Bollywood movie or the caricature of India portrayed in the Temple of Doom or many other Hollywood movies fully or partially based in India. Like the director, the writer of the story, Rumer Golden deserves credit for having the guns to stick to reality.