Synopsis by Clarke Fountain
Filmmaker Jean Renoir (1894-1979) had an extremely long career writing, directing, producing and acting in films, beginning in the silent era, right up until the time of his death, when most of his productions were influenced by the medium of television. He was one of the sons of the famous Impressionist painter August Renoir. This two part documentary was filmed to be released on British television in conjunction with the 100th anniversary of his birth. His influence on French filmmaking in particular was so great that he was sometimes referred to as le patron (which, among other things, means "the boss"), and no further identification was needed. The majority of his more noteworthy films were produced in the 1930s, and the film most people consider to have been his masterpiece, La Règle du Jeu or The Rules of the Game was so scathing in its criticism of 1939 French society that it provoked an outcry and he withdrew it from circulation, only releasing it again after his return to France some years after the Second World War. The documentary makers have coaxed Renoir's son to be interviewed, along with as many surviving contemporaries as could be found. In addition to numerous film clips, the documentary is fleshed out with interviews with more contemporary figures who discuss his importance in the history of cinema.