Etienne Alexis, a candidate for president of the new Europe, is a scientist promoting artificial insemination for social betterment and therapy to eliminate passion. His wealthy household (...
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Etienne Alexis, a candidate for president of the new Europe, is a scientist promoting artificial insemination for social betterment and therapy to eliminate passion. His wealthy household (his family owns chemical corporations that will profit from his ideas) is stiff, intellectual, and sterile. To celebrate his engagement to a German cousin, he hosts an aseptic picnic, where mother nature asserts herself. A shepherd's flute conjures a windstorm that throws Alexis together with the luscious Nénette, a farm lass who wants to have a baby but is unimpressed with men. Written by
Seems to represent Renoir bringing his classic concerns into a modern format
the movie begins with a (slightly leaden) satire of modern media, and
the plot relies heavily on artificial insemination, the politics of a modern Europe, the politics of image, and preeminently the relationship between science (here representing repression and fastidiousness and self-denial) and nature (here representing a rustic, lusty, idyllic, semi-slapstick integrity). That sounds a bit condescending, and indeed it s an old man's movie. But it's also a very good one, with superb choreography of the elements and many moments of bliss (the shot of the loosened-up professor beaming as he rides a motor scooter is priceless). Sadly, it s hard to get beyond the wretched quality of the Eastmancolor print - there s virtually no green left in it, just a sickly pink. A restored print would surely add to the movie s emotional lushness, perhaps revealing whole layers of additional subtlety in the design, and giving it a sharpened modernity. Even as it stands, a beguiling film.
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