The River

“A movie set in India must have certain essential elements: tigers, Bengal lancers and elephants,” recalled Jean Renoir about the advice of film financiers. “In The River, there are no tigers, Bengal lancers, or elephants.” Disillusioned after a spell in Hollywood, Renoir journeyed to India (and allied himself with Satyajit Ray) for this lyrical adaptation of Black Narcissus author's Rumer Godden's coming-of-age tale set alongside the River Ganges. Into a bucolic expat community of schoolgirls and widowers arrives a wounded American war veteran, his presence awakening a host of desires. “That's funny; I often hate men,” coos one teenaged temptress, who quickly takes up smoking. “Mother, am I beautiful?” asks another. “You have…an interesting face,” Mumsy replies. Renoir subtly contrasts the momentary experiences of first love and other tragedies against the river's (and India's) eternal beauty, expertly captured by Claude Renoir in eye-popping Technicolor. Droll, painterly, and wise, The River offers a lesson in purity of cinema, and life. "We go on as if nothing has happened,” a daughter complains after a tragedy. “No we don't," replies a mother. "We just go on.”

This page may by only partially complete. For additional information about this film, view the original entry on our archived site.