Hans Christian Andersen’s tale of a destitute matchgirl whose only respite is fantasy was filmed by Renoir and Tedesco in their makeshift studio-generating electricity from an automobile motor and battery, building lamps and reflectors that were forerunners of modern floodlights. This fairy-tale film with Catherine Hessling “blatantly contradicts the fallacious notion of Renoir as essentially a realist….It amused Renoir to superimpose impressionism on expressionism. The special effects were not created for the sake of fantasy but as ends in themselves, as games to amuse their inventor.” (Bazin) —BAM/PFA
The son of the painter Auguste Renoir, Jean Renoir became one of France’s most important and respected filmmakers during the middle of the 20th century. A Philosophy and Math student, Renoir became a cavalryman, but was invalided out of the army before World War I. Later, he married a model and aspiring actress, and, following the death of his father and the acquisition of an inheritance, set up his own production company to produce movies for his wife. Renoir learned from these early experiences of financing movies and watching other films, and became a director in 1924. With the advent of sound, Renoir’s career was quickly made with a series of profitable films, including La Chienne (1931), a savage and dark drama about a man’s self-destruction, which was later remade by Fritz Lang as Scarlet Street. Renoir’s subsequent films, including The Lower Depths (1936) and Grand Illusion (1937), were among the finest made in France before the war, and were well acknowledged at the time of… read more
Is there a more perfect adaption? For me, no. This is the movie that Guy Maddin has been ripping off for his entire career (maddin is my favorite director). Here's a beautiful case where visual imperfection is made powerful and if there's one director to bring such a thing to screen, its Renoir. Nicely done, enchanting, and incredibly moving.
Starts as a socially conscious tale (one that takes place in snow globe) of a downtrodden protagonist, detailing her hardships. We're then swept up the into a sequence of childlike freedom where we take pleasure simply in our hero exploring. Finally the film bursts into a fantasy adventure that rivals 'The Thief of Baghdad'. This is all done in 30 mins. Considered a minor film, but I think its a grand achievement.