Jean Renoir Peter Brinson - Essay

Peter Brinson

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

A tapestry is usually a series of scenes linked together by similarity of theme, nothing more. Renoir calls French Can-Can a tapestry. It flows … with stately inevitability from one composition to the next. (p. 18)

It might have been a noble story with the Moulin Rouge in the rôle of the Great Ideal. Renoir prefers the truth. Danglard [the central character], training and moulding his discoveries till they are stars, seducing them and moving on to his next conquest, is not a likeable figure. The Montmartre society in which he moves is unattractive, even a little sordid, however cleverly it is framed in the colour compositions of Renoir, Michel Kelber and Max Douy. Thus the film captures the authentic atmosphere of the period.

The trouble is that a film, presented as a series of pictures, tends to lack continuity and climax. It comes to you like snatches of song on the wind—with bits missing. I do not find here the air of a combined painting and novel which one expects a good film director to suggest, especially Renoir. The flow of a novel and the penetration of the novelist into the souls of his characters, these are missing. It is an unexpected weakness for Renoir is a brilliant director of people. (pp. 18-19)

He loves his characters even though he criticises them. His portrait of life is as gay, optimistic and authentic as the Can-Can which concludes the film and the world of show business to which the film is dedicated. (p. 19)

Peter Brinson, "New Film: 'French Can-Can'" (© copyright Peter Brinson 1955; reprinted with permission), in Films and Filming, Vol. 2, No. 1, October, 1955, pp. 18-19.