I've just taken delivery of Renoir's The River (came out recently on Criterion). I've looked for a review of it on HTF, couldn't find it, so I thought I'd offer MTC. For those who haven't seen it, The River is set in India in the latish 1940s, just after India gained independence from British colonial rule. The story concerns the white British family of a manager of a jute works - or more specifically, the pubescent daughter of the family. The white neighbour (who married a native Indian woman and has a mixed race daughter) has a friend to stay - an ex-army captain who lost a leg in the war. The story basically concerns the daughter coming to terms with first love (for the ex-soldier) and first significant loss (one of the other kids in the family dies). At the end of the film, nothing much has been resolved. The central characters have perhaps a little more self-awareness, and that's about it. With regard to the film itself, the photography is stunning, and a good showpiece for Technicolor in all its faults and all its glory. The principal deficit is the usual gripe that the process made things look like rather garish postcards. On the plus side, some scenes are so vibrant they are breathtaking. Sound, although mono, is remarkably clear. However, the content of the film is another matter. I should being by saying that in general I'm a huge fan of Renoir's work. Rule of the Game remains one of my all-time favourites. However, as for The River ... Frankly, me not like. Several reasons: (1) There is zilch political insight into the status of Brits as colonialists. This need not have been a major theme, but at least some signs of greater awareness are necessary. You could e.g. have a domestic drama amongst members of the white families on a slave plantation in the Deep South, but you'd think it odd if no mention was made of the inherently repressive conditions of the workers. (2) Far too much of the acting is wooden beyond belief. There are a lot of amateur actors in the film, but even some of the professional actors seem incapable of delivering believable dialogue. (3) The film meanders, and the principal themes frankly are neither original nor particularly interesting. Now I'm sure that a lot of folks' opinions of The River will differ markedly from this, and fine - mine is a personal reaction only. However, I would still praise this disc in any case, because the extras are wonderful. There is a short and charming introduction by Renoir himself taken from an old French TV series (odd to hear someone talking in French about a film they directed in English). There is also a wonderful documentary on the woman on whose novel the film was based and a very entertaining audio monologue from the financial backer of the film (the only one he made - he previously had been a successful florist and after the movie went into real estate). Plus, the picture quality is wonderful. If any of you saw The River on the TV or in art house cinemas pre-1990s, you'll know how shabby-looking the movie had become. However, now following restoration (in part led by Martin Scorcese, who provides a short but throughtful appraisal of the movie on the disc as well) it looks as good as I think we're going to see it. For those who like The River, or want a pristine example of what Technicolor was capable of, then this is a no-brainer purchase. If you're unsure, then I'd advise renting first.