7.6/10
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The River (1951)

Approved | | Drama, Romance | 19 December 1951 (France)
Three adolescent girls growing up in Bengal, India, learn their lessons in life after falling for an older American soldier.

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Writers:

(novel), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Nominated for 2 BAFTA Film Awards. Another 2 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Nora Swinburne ...
The Mother
...
The Father
...
Mr. John
Suprova Mukerjee ...
Nan
Thomas E. Breen ...
Capt. John
...
Harriet
...
Melanie
...
Valerie
June Hillman ...
Narrator (voice)
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Storyline

Harriet, now an adult, narrates the story of her coming of age growing up as a British national and a daughter of a jute press manager in the Bengal region of India, they living in the big house on the banks of one of the holy rivers. At the time, she is the eldest of six siblings - five girls and one boy - with another on the way and with she being significantly older the rest of her siblings. As such, she spends much time with an honorary member of their family, a late teen - not quite an adult - named Valerie, also a British national and the daughter of the jute press owner. Another friend, who recently arrived home from her western schooling, is Melanie, the biracial daughter of British national Mr. John and his then deceased Hindu wife. Both Mr. John and Melanie realize her difficult position, straddling both the Hindi and western cultures. Their small world is shaken up with the arrival of Captain John, Mr. John's cousin and an American ex-military man who has one prosthetic leg... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

bengal | american | india | love | river | See All (193) »

Taglines:

A Motion Picture Masterpiece See more »

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

| | |

Language:

|

Release Date:

19 December 1951 (France)  »

Also Known As:

The River  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The newspaper one of the characters is reading features an article (i.e. a photo) of Sri Aurobindo, a spiritual teacher from India who died in 1950. See more »

Goofs

(at around 36 mins) A cigarette appears from nowhere. See more »

Quotes

Harriet: Ten minutes ago, she wasn't born. And, tomorrow, we'll be used to her. And yesterday, we...
Valerie: Bother yesterday.
Melanie: This is today.
Harriet: And today. Here is the baby. The baby and us. The big river. The whole world and everything.
See more »

Connections

References The River (1938) See more »

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User Reviews

A great film
13 October 2004 | by (New York, New York) – See all my reviews

It's difficult to argue with Gabridl's remarks about the film - and I'm sure Renoir would have pleaded guilty as charged. Of not making a civics lesson. So, if that's what you want out of art, then this is not the film for you. At all. You will learn nothing of Indian politics, the "exoticism" will drive you mad, and you'd do better to go back and re-read Said's "Orientalism," as Gabridl suggests.

Renoir went to India, and made a film from the perspective of an entranced outsider looking in, creating his own, personalized world - not India, but Renoir's world, where everything is transitory, including beauty and death, and where every sight and sound becomes that much more precious.

I am glad that we have come so far since I've been a kid, when so many ideas and prejudices carried over from the colonial era were still floating through the air, and it's true that no one except that most naive among us would make a film like THE RIVER today. But Renoir was alive in 1950, not now, and he made his film for his time, and that time attaches itself to the film, just like it does to every artwork. I doubt that even Gabridl would suggest that it was the work of a craven exploiter of the masses, and that its "faults" are not the faults of a corrupt man, but of a generous and compassionate one. It's one of the most generous films I know of.

Finally, I would add that while this is a film made by a westerner for other westerners, it was certainly inspirational to Satyajit Ray, who worked as Renoir's assistant.


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