Lessons for the Neoliberal Age: Cinema and Social Solidarity from Jean Renoir to Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne


In his recent article “Jean Renoir’s Timely Lessons for Europe,” New York Times film critic A.O. Scott recalls that when it was released worldwide in 1937, Renoir’s La grande illusion (Grand Illusion) won the admiration of statesmen as diverse in political opinion as Benito Mussolini and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, prompting the latter to declare “All the democracies in the world must see this film” (qtd. in Scott). The new digital restoration of La grande illusion has offered Scott the opportunity to school his contemporary America readers in the economic, social and political crises that gripped France, and much of continental Europe, when Renoir set out to make his now monumental and timeless contribution to world cinema. Scott acknowledges that history has marched on, significantly altering the societies and circumstances represented in La grande illusion. Yet he does find affinities between current conditions in Europe and those that troubled Renoir in the late 1930s when he formulated his poignant call for peace and understanding among European nations.

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