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Cracking Gilles Deleuze’s Crystal

Narrative Space-time in the Films of Jean Renoir

Barry Nevin

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Applies complex Deleuzian thought to the quintessential French auteur

Jean Renoir is widely considered as one of the most important technical innovators and politically engaged filmmakers in cinema history. Reassessing the unique qualities of Renoir’s influential visual style by interpreting his films through Gilles Deleuze’s film philosophy, and through previously unpublished production files, Barry Nevin provides a fresh and accessible interdisciplinary perspective that illuminates both the consistency and diversity of Renoir’s oeuvre. Exploring canonised landmarks in Renoir’s career, including La Grande Illusion (1937) and La Règle du jeu (1939), the book also considers neglected films such as Le Bled (1929) and Diary of a Chambermaid (1946) to present a rounded analysis of this quintessential French auteur’s oeuvre.

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Theorising Renoir’s narrative style: Bazin, Faulkner, and Braudy.
The future beyond the point de fuite: opening the image-temps to space
Open spaces / open futures: filming spatial politics
Reading Deleuze on Renoir: critical opinions
Discursive positioning: Renoir auteur

Chapter 1 – Teatro Mundi: Framing Urban Dynamics in Renoir’s Paris
Introduction: Renoir, cinema and the city
La Chienne (1931)
Boudu sauvé des eaux (1932)
La Règle du jeu (1939)
Conclusion: Renoir’s Ville-concept

Chapter 2 – From Desert to Dreamscape: Viewing Renoir’s Rural Landscapes as Spatial Arenas
Introduction: opening the natural landscape to space-time
Le Bled (1929)
The Southerner (1945)
The River (1951)
Conclusion: dynamising the natural landscape

Chapter 3 – Portraying the Future(s) of the Front Populaire
Introduction: theory and texts in context
Le Crime de Monsieur Lange (1936)
Les Bas-fonds (1936)
La Grande Illusion (1937)
Conclusion: ‘We are dancing on a volcano’.

Chapter 4 – Renoir’s Crises Anti-réalistes: Framing le Temps Gelé
Introduction: seeing time in the image plane
Diary of a Chambermaid (1946)
The Golden Coach (1952)
Eléna et les hommes (1956)
Conclusion: society and spectacle

Appendix: Corpus Breakdown

About the Author

Barry Nevin is Assistant Lecturer in French at the Dublin Institute of Technology and Teaching Visitor in Film Studies at Trinity College Dublin. His research focuses on French cinema of the 1930s, particularly the films of Jean Renoir, Jacques Feyder and Marcel Carné. His work has been published in a wide range of academic journals including Studies in French Cinema, French Cultural Studies and the Journal of Urban Cultural Studies.


Barry Nevin has here made a significant contribution to the densely-populated field of Renoir studies and the currently thriving world of Deleuzian film theory. The work is nourished by significant archival research and extensive interdisciplinary erudition. This is a book of great importance to all serious students of Renoir.

- Professor Keith Reader, University of London Institute in Paris

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