305 Boudu Saved from Drowning

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Tommaso
Joined: Fri May 19, 2006 10:09 am

Re: 305 Boudu Saved from Drowning

#76 Post by Tommaso » Wed Apr 28, 2010 5:19 am

Well, if someone indeed unearthed a very old print (perhaps even the neg?) of "Boudu" and that becomes the basis for a new release, chances are high that the aspect ratio will be correct this time. That alone would make the double-dipping worthwhile.

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knives
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Re: 305 Boudu Saved from Drowning

#77 Post by knives » Thu May 13, 2010 3:37 pm

Fuck this movie!

Sorry about that. I just found this to be a tiring frustration. It's not funny, it's not dramatic, and it says nothing. Please, please defend this movie because I want to know how anyone could enjoy this crap. I'd be able to put up with the waste of character that Boudu is or the idiocy of everyone else if it had anything to say, but it doesn't. As usual it seems Renoir is trying to say something about class, but the final message is so out of character for Renoir that what I identify can't be it. The only other explanation I can think of though is so naive and stupid that I can't take it seriously. How could anybody, let alone a supposed humanist, make a film so poisonous? It boggles my mind.

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Matt
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Re: 305 Boudu Saved from Drowning

#78 Post by Matt » Thu May 13, 2010 4:31 pm

Start here.

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knives
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Re: 305 Boudu Saved from Drowning

#79 Post by knives » Thu May 13, 2010 4:55 pm

Thar does do a swell job of improving the film, showing that it is the naive option (that isn't so naive) rather than the contradiction. I still have a feeling of dislike, not agreeing entirely with the message nor how it is shown, but I don't hate it either which actually makes me happy.

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tartarlamb
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Re: 305 Boudu Saved from Drowning

#80 Post by tartarlamb » Thu May 13, 2010 5:36 pm

I am struggling to imagine how someone could watch Michel Simon without laughing. And the more uncomfortable you get with his antics, the more you realize that its not some other righteous middle class foil that's being skewered.

Maybe one's enjoyment of this film correlates directly with however mean-spirited and cynical he or she is.

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knives
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Re: 305 Boudu Saved from Drowning

#81 Post by knives » Thu May 13, 2010 5:42 pm

Thinking a bit more I believe my problem lies with the moral conclusion of the film. It seems that Renoir is trying to say that charitable people aren't charitable, which is something I agree with. Where I distinctly fins this to be problematic is, and I will phrase this completely wrong, the idea that should be allowed to be continued a nuisance (I've tried to write this ten times and I said I'd get it wrong so I'm not changing it this time). I think The Last Holiday handled a similar idea far better with its ending.

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Matt
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Re: 305 Boudu Saved from Drowning

#82 Post by Matt » Thu May 13, 2010 6:14 pm

I don't think Renoir is saying "charitable people aren't charitable." I think he's saying something more like "charity often costs too much to accept, and sometimes too much to give."

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knives
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Re: 305 Boudu Saved from Drowning

#83 Post by knives » Thu May 13, 2010 6:33 pm

Yes, that is a far better way to phrase things.

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ellipsis7
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Re: 305 Boudu Saved from Drowning

#84 Post by ellipsis7 » Thu Mar 10, 2011 7:47 am

BOUDU coming to UK/IRL BR from Park Circus on April 4th... This will be the new resto which premmed as part of Cannes Classics in 2010 and subsequently went on theatrical release hereabouts....
Boudu saved from Drowning (Boudu Sauved des Eaux) (1932) by Jean Renoir is screened in a print containing a scene that has never been screened before. The film tells the story of the homeless Boudu, saved by an idealistic bookshop owner after trying to commit suicide. Before long he is causing mischief in his benefactor’s household. (Print restored by the Cinémathèque de Bologne)
Further notes on the resto...
The restoration of Boudu sauve des eaux (1932)

The restoration was carried out through the 2K digitalisation of the original nitrate negative image and a "safety" print. The original 1.19 aspect ratio has been re-established; this specific ratio was often used in the early days of talking pictures but was soon abandoned in favour of a more rectangular frame.

The restoration of the soundtrack was based on the best available source, a positive exhibition print, as the original elements - incomplete and chemically damaged - were impossible to use. The original sound negatives of reels 1, 4 and 5 were destroyed by the French Cinematheque in 2002 due to their state of decay.

It is worth noting that a previously missing scene was by chance conserved in the original negative, thus allowing presentation of a more complete version of the film. This is the surprising sequence in which Boudu spits on a book by Balzac (/La Phsiologie du marriage/) then jeers at the portrait of a soldier in uniform. This scene was probably removed following the intervention of the Paris Chief of Police, who summoned Jean Renoir and Michel Simon in order to make them cut certain scenes that could have possibly "disturbed the peace."

However, since the sound negative was incomplete, the scene would have remained silent if sound effects had not been added.

The film's grading was completely revised by Isabelle Julien, renowned for her work in this field (recently on Un conte de Noel, Faubourg 36, Un prophete, Les Herbes folles, Le Concert and the restoration of Play Time and La Dolce Vita).

The work was carried out at the Immagine Ritrovata laboratories in Bologna and at Digimage, Paris.

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jsteffe
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Re: 305 Boudu Saved from Drowning

#85 Post by jsteffe » Thu Mar 10, 2011 2:34 pm

Thanks for posting that press release! I just emailed Jon Mulvaney about the restoration and suggested it as a candidate for Blu-ray on Criterion. I'm sure they're already well aware of the restoration, though.

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Mr Sausage
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Boudu Saved from Drowning (Jean Renoir, 1932)

#86 Post by Mr Sausage » Mon Jul 04, 2016 2:47 pm

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Drucker
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Re: Boudu Saved from Drowning (Jean Renoir, 1932)

#87 Post by Drucker » Wed Jul 06, 2016 10:42 pm

There are some big gaps in my Renoir viewing (La Bete Humaine, Lower Depths, and The Crime of M Lang), but from what I've seen, Renoir's films center around humans constructing ridiculous social norms. Those social norms are almost always destroyed by the forces of nature that will not be contained. In The River a walled off society cannot keep out human growth, stop human curiosity, nor keep out predators. Jean Gabin cannot be forced to love just one woman in French Can Can. And of course, The Rules of the Game and La Grande Illusion are the perfect films which center around those social norms.

Perhaps my coincidental viewing of Rules of the Game last week set the bar too high, but for most of Boudu, I was sorely disappointed, especially since I had loved it upon first viewing it a few years ago. So much of what I love about Renoir seemed totally absent. The beautiful, gliding camera movements and large, excited crowds of people living life excitedly are decidedly not present. Perhaps owing to its vintage, the camera stands fundamentally still through a good portion of the start of the film. We observe Boudu from a distance. A crowd gathers upon his attempted drowning, but they stay mostly cloudy. Domestic discussion is also still. We don't feel like we are living with the people as we do in other Renoir films.

I wouldn't mind the static camera so much, if the dialogue and gags weren't just so dull. Boudu's antics as he parades through the house, misunderstands his benefactors, spills wine, and the rest is rather dull. While I hate to accuse an 80 year old movie of not living up to my modern standards, the indictment of the rich people that are more concerned with lavishing praise on someone from their own class than acknowledging the existence of someone from a lower class...just sort of fell flat. Really, through the first 2/3rds of this movie I was mostly disappointed.

The final third of the film does pay off, mostly because of the way Boudu turns on is benefactors. After his haircut and rape/sexual encounter with the woman of the house, Boudu is trying to marry the servant, whom he really loves. A few scenes later, they are in a boat, apparent newlyweds, and the man of the house makes a comment about the fact that they've disobeyed modern morals and allowed nature to take its course as the two characters wed. But of course, the opposite has happened. Boudu by his nature cannot enter polite society, especially by way of marriage. Nature truly takes his course as he turns the boat over and goes back to his natural, true self. The ending is clever, delightfully cruel, and poignant in a way the rest of the film really isn't.

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Sloper
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Re: Boudu Saved from Drowning (Jean Renoir, 1932)

#88 Post by Sloper » Mon Jul 11, 2016 8:28 am

Coincidentally, this time last year we were discussing films with quite similar themes: Black Narcissus and Satyricon.

I think this is a brilliant film – it still worked as well for me as it did when I first saw it many years ago – but I have to say that this time it left a very sour taste in my mouth due to the portrayal of Boudu’s rape of Mme Lestingois. I’d forgotten about this (along with most of the film) since last seeing it. Obviously this is the culmination of his assault on this bourgeois home and its values, and the film wants us to see it as an immoral, transgressive act...but it also celebrates it as a reassertion of nature over perverse social constructs, as Drucker quite rightly points out. Boudu has already been getting ‘rapy’ with Anne-Marie, and we’ve already seen her starting to react positively to his advances. But in the climactic rape scene, Boudu is overtly threatening, gloats over Emma’s fear, and forces her onto the bed. Afterwards, we see her rise from the bed with a huge grin on her face and Boudu does a little flourish with his hand, as if to say ‘ta-da!’

So the film is promoting a very common – still very common – rape myth, namely that women who resist a man’s sexual advances really just want him to persist, and will be grateful to him during and after his dismantling of her unnatural inhibitions. The same rape myth motivates the climax of A Day in the Country, though the man in that case is a good deal less violent than Boudu, the woman is shown to exercise more agency, and the tone is altogether different. I never write off works of art just because I find them morally objectionable, and indeed for me this often gives them an extra layer of interest. But in the case of both the films just mentioned, the problem does get in the way of precisely the thing that (for me, and probably for most people who enjoy them) makes these films so enjoyable. I’ll just focus on Boudu here though.

Unlike Drucker, I found the jokes extremely funny, and up to the rape scene I loved the spectacle of Boudu trashing the Lestingois home. It’s hard to explain why this is so much fun, but to do so I’d refer back to La chienne, the film Renoir made just before this, and especially to the puppet-show prologue at the start which tells us that the film we are about to see has no moral, and is simply about ‘people like us’. Unlike in Lang’s remake, Scarlet Street, there’s no sense that we’re called on to adopt a moral perspective on any of the characters’ actions. Even the seemingly vituperative title takes on a different meaning once we’ve seen the ‘bitch’ in action, and heard Legrand say that she is not a woman but a chienne – then, and even more so at the end of the film,
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we can see that all three of the main characters are like animals, helplessly pursuing their instincts, willingly and even happily destroying themselves without regard for the social norms they are expected to conform to. It would be misguided to see Boudu as a sequel to La chienne, but there is a sense in which Michel Simon seems to be picking up where he left off. In the last scene of La chienne, Legrand goes from suicidal despair to ecstatic joie de vivre (‘La vie est belle!’), much as Boudu does at the start of the later film. It’s telling that the priceless self-portrait Legrand fails to notice as it gets driven away (while he happily celebrates his acquisition of a few measly francs) resembles not only Legrand’s former self, but also the shaven, gentrified Boudu. This isn’t the tragic fall we see in Lang’s film, rather it feels as though Legrand (like his wife’s previous husband) has escaped from the oppressive bourgeois existence commemorated in the portrait, into something freer and more natural. That escape is accomplished, in part, by leaving one woman and murdering another, and here too there’s a curious parallel with the ending of Boudu, in which the ‘clochard’, having made himself look like a ‘bourgeois’, immediately divests himself of these pretensions by raping one woman and then abandoning another at the altar, before drifting back into a more natural, less structured existence. Renoir cuts away from the murder in La chienne, focusing instead on the spectators listening to the music downstairs,
and he does something very similar in Boudu, cutting from the rape, via the painting of the boy dancing along while playing the trumpet, to the military band downstairs preceded by a crowd of dancing children. The band are celebrating Lestingois and his imminent decoration for saving Boudu (whom his wife is at this moment supposed to be ejecting from the house), and the dancing children seem to be getting in the way of the band, providing an ironic commentary on their pompous militaristic celebrations. The ultra-virile Boudu is also contrasted with Lestingois, who is lounging in an armchair reading the paper and smoking a cigar, an image of bourgeois impotence. The trumpet imagery relates to the numerous references to the pipe-playing associated with Bacchanalia, Priapus and so on, referred to by Lestingois at the very start of the film as he predicted that some more potent flute-player would soon replace him in Anne-Marie’s affections.

And the film makes it clear that Mme Lestingois is not simply the frigid ice-wife her husband makes her out to be. Even her first appearance in the film, when she glances around curiously outside before re-entering her home, subtly signals her restlessness and dissatisfaction. Her ambiguous refrain of ‘oh, oh’, her writhing in her sleep (mirrored with that of Boudu), her similar writhings on her bed later on when she rages against Boudu, and her general air of shrugging boredom throughout the film (brilliantly suggested by Marcelle Hainia’s nuanced performance), tell us that the anger she expresses towards this interloper brought into her home is really just a displacement of the deeper frustrations resulting from her unsatisfying marriage to a bookish, pretentious and increasingly impotent man (the film doesn’t treat Lestingois quite so harshly, but I think that’s more or less how Emma sees him).

In short, I think the point of the rape scene is this: Emma isn’t getting what she needs from her current lifestyle, and her sense of propriety makes her suppress her own sexuality; Boudu forcibly reawakens this sexuality, and she is grateful afterwards. Although Boudu is in fact a rapist, the imagery surrounding this incident makes it seem like he is expressing a childlike, and therefore ‘natural’, impulse, and indeed there is something almost childlike about Emma’s rejuvenated smile when she rises from the bed. Lestingois keeps referring to Boudu as an ‘animal’, but like Renoir’s previous film this one seems to be on the side of the ‘animals’ against civilisation. As in so many classic artworks that adopt this stance, it’s an appealingly rebellious idea that turns out to have darker ramifications, especially when it comes to sexuality.

Drucker, although I don’t share all your feelings about the film, I do agree with much of what you said about the film's exploration of 'nature', but might take issue with one point:
Drucker wrote:Renoir's films center around humans constructing ridiculous social norms. Those social norms are almost always destroyed by the forces of nature that will not be contained. In The River a walled off society cannot keep out human growth, stop human curiosity, nor keep out predators. Jean Gabin cannot be forced to love just one woman in French Can Can. And of course, The Rules of the Game and La Grande Illusion are the perfect films which center around those social norms.
I also have a lot of gaps to fill when it comes to Renoir, but it seems to me that while these forces of nature persistently battle against social norms, it is usually civilisation that (tragi-comically) wins out at the end. I think the ending of La Grande Illusion
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suggests that the class boundaries and prejudices explored up to that point remain intact, despite the temporary solidarity between the soldiers, and apparently Renoir planned but didn’t shoot an epilogue that would have emphasised this.
The same goes for The Rules of the Game and A Day in the Country, in my view. In La chienne and Boudu, and especially in the former, social norms are in a sense flouted and rejected at the end, but in Boudu this also feels very much like a restoration of order: the tramp is poor and happy again, Lestingois is reunited with his wife and mistress, and the threat posed by Boudu’s infiltration of the middle-class home has been neutralised, as has the threat posed by the middle-class home’s infiltration of Boudu’s lifestyle. See his discomfort when Emma tries to make love to him after he has raped her; see also his restless attempt to emulate the other middle-class couple by scooping up a water-lily, which plunges him back into the restorative flow of the river. Having floated serenely down the river and crawled back on shore, he’s visibly delighted to have escaped the fate of Alfred Doolittle, and hurls his bowler hat into the river from which he’s just emerged. The film’s French title literally means ‘Boudu saved from the water’, and there’s a neat symmetry to the way he’s saved by the water at the end – but also saved from the water again, in that he is saved from the riverboat, and the deadening bourgeois tableau he appears for a moment to have been trapped in.

I also disagree about the camerawork, which although not as overtly virtuosic as in some other Renoirs seemed to me very artful and, when appropriate, very fluid. There’s a lovely tracking shot when we see Anne-Marie bustling around the house from the perspective (I think) of a neighbouring apartment, reminiscent of the scene in La chienne where Legrand is shaving, and we see other inhabitants of the apartment block through his window. I also loved the way Renoir uses the street outside to achieve a similar effect, putting the Lestingois home in context, reminding us of the bustling reality outside, showing that this home is both intensely private and utterly exposed, which I guess is characteristic of urban spaces. This effect works in tandem with the claustrophobic – or just cluttered – framing of many interior scenes, where the piles of books and other accumulated detritus obscure or impede the characters. The film works quite hard to make us feel how insulated and crowded this home already is; this helps us understand what it means when Lestingois runs outside this cosy, cramped nest to save, retrieve and re-house an almost completely alien figure, who is defined by his completely un-confined existence, and whose only meaningful piece of property is his suspenders (guarded with comic ferocity to underline the point). But again, this is brilliant film-making in the service of an idea that culminates in a ‘salutary rape’.

Anyway, I guess what I’m saying is that Boudu Saved From Drowning joins a long list of films, poems, songs, etc., that I kind of love and admire, but that I also kind of hate on a moral level.

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lubitsch
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Re: Boudu Saved from Drowning (Jean Renoir, 1932)

#89 Post by lubitsch » Mon Jul 11, 2016 4:36 pm

This is not going to be a very deep post, but I absolutely hate this film because I totally side with the bourgeois family and dislike Boudu completely. None of the scenes with him is funny at all, he is just rude and abusive with the rape scene just being the distasteful top. He spits into the Balzac edition. Oh how hilarious. I bet if I would have come to Renoir's house and spit on one of his rare books, he'd probably murdered me. It's a cheap, superficial and hypocritical antibourgeois attitude.
Oh and I can't stand Michel Simon in almost anything he ever did. Always mumbling fumbling for the very last row in a very big theatre he is just annoying.

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knives
Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2008 6:49 pm

Re: Boudu Saved from Drowning (Jean Renoir, 1932)

#90 Post by knives » Mon Jul 11, 2016 4:50 pm

That's the point though. I initially had the same reaction you done and I think Bunuel made the same point more pleasantly in Viridiana, but Renoir is clearly criticizing them for expecting Boudu for being anything other than what he is. The film seems to be saying that it is not truly an act of charity if you expect even so much as a thank you in return. Boudu is the absolute worst figure to give charity to in the world and if you hate them that is fine. If, as the family does, you do give him charity then your rights of complaint are removed unless you admit you were not doing charity. Instead what they were doing was a transaction where they figured their kindnesses were payment for Boudu acting sociably. Had they admitted that or done true charity their pain would not have been as such.

ChanceFoyer
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Re: 305 Boudu Saved from Drowning

#91 Post by ChanceFoyer » Thu Jul 21, 2016 3:03 pm

Looks like a Blu upgrade may be coming sooner rather than later for Boudu. Just added the DVD to my BN cart and received the message: "No longer available for sale." Usually it just says an item is temporarily out of stock, right?

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