Jean Renoir

The River

The River

Director Jean Renoir’s entrancing first color feature—shot entirely on location in India—is a visual tour de force. Based on the novel by Rumer Godden, the film eloquently contrasts the growing pains of three young women with the immutability of the Bengal river around which their daily lives unfold. Enriched by Renoir’s subtle understanding and appreciation for India and its people, The River gracefully explores the fragile connections between transitory emotions and everlasting creation.

Film Info

  • Jean Renoir
  • France
  • 1951
  • 99 minutes
  • Color
  • 1.33:1
  • English
  • Spine #276

Special Features

  • High-definition digital transfer from the 2004 restoration by the Film Foundation, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
  • Introduction to the film from 1962 by director Jean Renoir
  • Around the River, a 2008 documentary by Arnaud Mandagaran about the making of the film
  • Interview with filmmaker Martin Scorsese from 2004
  • Audio interview with producer Ken McEldowney from 2000
  • Jean Renoir: A Passage Through India, a new video essay by film writer Paul Ryan
  • Trailer
  • PLUS: An essay by film scholar Ian Christie and notes on the film by Renoir

New cover by Kathleen Cantwell

Purchase Options

Special Features

  • High-definition digital transfer from the 2004 restoration by the Film Foundation, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
  • Introduction to the film from 1962 by director Jean Renoir
  • Around the River, a 2008 documentary by Arnaud Mandagaran about the making of the film
  • Interview with filmmaker Martin Scorsese from 2004
  • Audio interview with producer Ken McEldowney from 2000
  • Jean Renoir: A Passage Through India, a new video essay by film writer Paul Ryan
  • Trailer
  • PLUS: An essay by film scholar Ian Christie and notes on the film by Renoir

New cover by Kathleen Cantwell

The River
Cast
Nora Swinburne
The mother
Esmond Knight
The father
Arthur Shields
Mr. John
Suprova Mukerjee
Nan
Thomas Breen
Captain John
Patricia Walters
Harriet
Radha
Melanie
Adrienne Corri
Valerie
Richard Foster
Bogey
Penelope Wilkinson
Elizabeth
Jane Harris
Muffie
Jennifer Harris
Mouse
Cecelia Wood
Victoria
Sajjan Singh
Ram Singh
Nimai Barik
Kanu
Trilak Jetley
Anil
June Hillman
Narration
Credits
Director
Jean Renoir
Producer
Kenneth McEldowney
Screenplay
Rumer Godden
Screenplay
Jean Renoir
Adapted from the novel by
Rumer Godden
Production design
Eugène Lourié
Art director
Bansi Chandragupta
Director of photography
Claude Renoir
Camera operator
Ramanada Sen Gupta
Editor
George Gale
Music and technical adviser
M. A. Partha Sarathy

From The Current

Martin Scorsese on The River
Martin Scorsese on The River

Knowing Martin Scorsese was a fan of Jean Renoir’s India-set The River, we asked him to record an introduction when we first released it in 2004 (since then, he even included it in his Criterion Top 10, calling it “a film without a real story th…

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The River: A New Authenticity

The River: A New Authenticity

“A film about India without elephants and tiger hunts”—this was how Jean Renoir described his objective in making The River. Guided by Rumer Godden’s autobiographical novel, he rejected the India of exotic action and spectacle to make a medit…

By Ian Christie

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Renoir in San Francisco

Repertory Picks

Renoir in San Francisco

Jean Renoir’s captivating coming-of-age tale The River, playing at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, centers on the relationship between three teenage girls growing up in Bengal, India.

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Martin Scorsese’s Top 10

Martin Scorsese is an Academy Award–winning filmmaker who has directed more than twenty features, including The Last Temptation of Christ, available from the Criterion Collection.


Pedro Costa’s Top 10

Portuguese director Pedro Costa is the internationally acclaimed, award-winning artist behind the films Ossos, In Vanda’s Room, and Colossal Youth, available from Criterion in the special edition four-DVD box set Letters from Fontainhas: Three Film


Christmas Tales

In town for the New York Film Festival screenings of his much-admired A Christmas Tale, French director Arnaud Desplechin talked to Dennis Lim about his always allusive filmmaking style and his particular influences in making this dysfunctional-famil…


The River

Jean Renoir’s hopes for a Hollywood production of The River had languished for two years when, in November 1948, a meeting with a Beverly Hills florist sent him on a reconnaissance trip to Calcutta. This inspired an unexpected independent film of g…

By Alexander Sesonske


Explore

Jean Renoir

Director

The son of the great impressionist painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Jean Renoir was also a master of his medium: cinema. After making his mark in the early thirties with two very different films, the anarchic send-up of the bourgeoisie Boudu Saved from Drowning and the popular-front Gorky adaptation The Lower Depths, Renoir closed out the decade with two critical humanistic studies of French society that routinely turn up on lists of the greatest films ever made: Grand Illusion and The Rules of the Game (the former was celebrated in its time, but the latter was trashed by critics and audiences—until history provided vindication). After a brief, unfulfilling Hollywood stint during World War II, Renoir traveled to India to make his first Technicolor film, The River, and then returned to Europe in the early fifties to direct three visually dazzling explorations of theater, The Golden Coach, French Cancan, and Elena and Her Men. Renoir persisted in his cinematic pursuits until the late sixties, when, after the completion of The Little Theater of Jean Renoir, a collection of three short films, he decided to dedicate himself solely to writing, leaving the future of the medium to those who looked to him in reverence.