Jean Renoir Stanley Kauffmann - Essay

Stanley Kauffmann

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[When La Grande Illusion was made,] the film was a warning of the futility of war in the face of growing wars, an anatomy of the upheaval of 1914–1918 to show contemporaries how grim machineries had once been set in motion. Today its pacifist intent, as such, seems somewhat less salient (though no less moving) because so many more human beings know how futile war is and know, too, that no film can abolish it. Today the film seems a hard perception of inevitabilities, not glibly cynical but, in the largest classical sense, pessimistic: a film that no longer asks for action but that accompanies us, noting our best, prepared for our worst. Since this state of mind, this undepressed pessimism, is today...

(The entire section is 529 words.)