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By Malin Meyer. April 21, 2014 - 10:58 am
French artist Pierre-Auguste Renoir was recognized as one of the leading Impressionist painters and one of the most famous artists of the early 20th century. He originally started out as a porcelain painter, but soon became fascinated with the French art scene.
Renoir died in 1919, but his paintings – particularly those of young women and children – are still very much known.
On Friday HPU’s Viewpoint series showed the French movie “Renoir,” which is based on the painter’s final years before his death. Set against the backdrop of World War I, the young woman Andrée becomes Renoir’s latest model, and the film is built around scenes of Renoir painting Andrée in various settings.
Renoir has three sons, two of which are fighting in the war. The youngest son, Coco, clearly struggles with the fact that the boys’ mother is deceased and Renoir himself is too old to properly raise him.
Haunted by rheumatism and old age, Renoir struggles to get around and requires daily treatments for his hands in order to continue painting. He is carried from the house to his atelier by his female staffers.
Renoir’s second son, Jean, eventually returns home from the war to convalesce after being wounded in the leg. The rest of the film centers on the relationship between Renoir and Jean, as well as Jean and Andrée – who fall in love. Jean would eventually grow to become the Jean Renoir – world celebrated film director and creator of works such as “Grand Illusion” (La Grande Illusion), “The Human Beast” (La Bête Humaine), and “The Rules of The Game” (La Règle du Jeu).
He also wrote the book “Renoir, My Father,” a memoir dedicated to his father.
The film itself is a delightful break from today’s fast-paced blockbusters, with the plot slowly progressing and exploring the different characters.
As should be, with a film that centers on a painter, the movie also presents beautiful imagery and colors.
There is one particular scene in which a paintbrush is dipped into a glass of water, followed by the interplay of the colors mixing with the water in dance-like movements.
It’s a film that wants you to notice all the minor details that a painter such as Renoir would pay attention to.