The River 1951 NR CC

Amazon Instant Video

(41) IMDb 7.6/10
Available in HD
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Director Jean Renoir's entrancing first color feature--shot entirely on location in India--is a visual tour de force. Based on the novel by Rumer Godden, the film eloquently contrasts the growing pains of three young women with the immutability of the holy Bengal River, around which their daily lives unfold.

Nora Swinburne, Esmond Knight
1 hour, 40 minutes

Available to watch on supported devices.

The River

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Product Details

Genres Drama, Romance
Director Jean Renoir
Starring Nora Swinburne, Esmond Knight
Supporting actors Arthur Shields, Suprova Mukerjee, Thomas E. Breen, Patricia Walters, Radha, Adrienne Corri, June Hillman, Nimai Barik, Richard R. Foster, Jane Harris, Jennifer Harris, Trilak Jetley, Ram Singh, Penelope Wilkinson, Cecilia Wood
Studio The Criterion Collection
MPAA rating NR (Not Rated)
Captions and subtitles English Details
Rental rights 3-day viewing period. Details
Purchase rights Stream instantly and download to 2 locations Details
Format Amazon Instant Video (streaming online video and digital download)

Customer Reviews

A short introduction by Renoir gives a fascinating look at what it took to get the film made.
C. O. DeRiemer
This film brings the audience a brilliant cinematic experience, which displays that Renoir truly is elevating his personal visual storytelling through his own visions.
A Customer
It deals with life and death, the problems of being a teenager and the condition of belonging to different cultures at the same time.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

114 of 116 people found the following review helpful By C. O. DeRiemer TOP 1000 REVIEWER on March 8, 2005
This is a movie of great calm and humanity, which moves at its own rhythms. It's also a beautiful movie, shot in India by one of the great visual directors of our time. The story may seem simple on the surface, but it moves deeply into the currents of life, using India and the Ganges as metaphor. I can only say that the movie is an affecting look at how life goes on and how we grow within our lives.

The River tells its story through three girls on the brink of adulthood. Harriet, the daughter of the English manager of a jute mill on the banks of the Ganges; Radha, the daughter of their English neighbor whose mother was Indian; and Valerie, the daughter of a wealthy English couple whom we never meet. The three are close friends but each is dealing with with their changes in their own way. Then one day the American cousin of their neighbor arrives to stay for awhile. He lost his leg in the war and is handsome. All the girls develop feelings for him and suddenly their own feelings for each other begin to change. And he has problems of his own. He hasn't come to grips with having only one leg, nor with what he feels is the pity toward him he has encountered. The reality of his life weighs on him. As the most mature of the girls tells him, "After a war yesterday's hero is only a man with one leg."

The story is told through the narration of Harriet as an adult. "Suddenly" she says, "we were running away from childhood and rushing toward love." In the course of four seasons they experience the ebb and flow of emotions just as the river ebbs and flows. There is a death, a birth, and life goes on. And by the end of the movie they, and we, have learned a good deal more about ourselves.

I like this movie a lot, and I have a great respect for it.
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59 of 63 people found the following review helpful By Toshifumi Fujiwara on January 31, 2005
Jean Renoir, after spending almost a decade in Hollywood struggling to establish an independent filmmaker staus, went to India. As it must have been for Renoir himself, THE RIVER is a breath of fresh air to its audience, which still holds a singular unique place in cinema.

Based on Rummer Godden's autobiographical novel on her childhood spend on the bank of the Gandhis River, the film explores a radically poetic narrative which depends neither on a plot, nor driven with strong characters. It is really a visual poem. It doesn't "describe" anything, in preference to capture (as well as to create) a certain atmosphere, in eccense a whole universe of a certain life, beeing "felt".

Though its aim was radical, and so were the mise-en-scene strategies taken by Renoir which were very unusual back then and even so today --especially the use of colors, that Renoir with his art director Eugene Lourie often walked around the sets and locations with cans of paint--, the film itself is very gentle, inviting the audience to share this idylic, magical, almost mystical universe of childhood.

The majority of the cast were non-actors, and the entire film was shot on location, including many shots taken in documentaristic situations showing the indeginious life surrounding the river.

At the same time, Renoir altered his location settings tremendously, both phisically (akmost re-painting everything) and cinematically (the two housese at the center of the story was actually one house that they rented). The story line itself often blends the "real life" aspects and the fantasy, not contrasting each other, or not even moving freely from one another; they just co-exist throughout the entire story.
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27 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Breyel on October 6, 2005
Verified Purchase
On the surface, Jean Renoir's film "The River" is a docu-drama on India and its people, replete with temples, religious festivals and cultural practices, set amidst the backdrop of the Bengal River. Scratch the surface and "The River" becomes a metaphor on the meaning of life, or at least the Hindu concept of it -- a cycle of births and deaths.

Several scenes allude to this theme. For instance, the statue of Hindu goddess Kali, symbolising creation and destruction, is moulded from the river's clay and returns to clay when it is submerged in the river after devotees complete a ritual celebration. Mr. John (Arthur Shields) at one point philosophises on life with his American cousin, Capt. John (Thomas E. Breen), stating one man jumps from the San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge while another goes on his way across the bridge. When young Bogey (Richard Foster), Harriet's brother, dies from a cobra's bite a sibling is born some months after his death.

Between birth and death are the lives of ordinary people who reside, work, play or worship along the river. Some face conflict which is either solved or insoluble. Capt. John is the war veteran (unspecified war) who has lost a leg and is struggling to put his past behind him. Valerie, Melanie and Harriet (Adrienne Court, Radha and Patricia Walters) are adolescent girls who express their respective infatuations for Capt. John and their ensuing growing pains. Mr. John is the British expatriate and widower who has contentedly adopted the ways and culture of India, yet agonises over the mixed-race status his marriage to an Indian woman has created for his daughter Melanie. Harriet's father (Esmond Knight) is the manager of a jute factory, busy with its operation, yet concerned about his children growing up.
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