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Picnic on the Grass (1959)

Le déjeuner sur l'herbe (original title)
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 (... See full summary »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Paul Meurisse ...
Etienne Alexis
Charles Blavette ...
Gaspard (as Blavette)
André Brunot ...
Le Curé
Régine Blaess ...
Claire (as Régine Blaes)
Marguerite Cassan ...
Mme Poignant
Robert Chandeau ...
Laurent
Jacques Danoville ...
Mr. Poignant
Hélène Duc ...
Isabelle
...
Forestier
Ghislaine Dumont ...
Magda
Jacqueline Fontel ...
Michelet
Micheline Gary ...
Madeleine
Jean-Pierre Granval ...
Ritou
Michel Herbault ...
Moutet
Raymond Jourdan ...
Eustache
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Storyline

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 <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Here is a Film That Breaks Every Rule and Divides the Audiences Into Joyful Accomplises and Embarassed Prigs...

Genres:

Comedy | Romance

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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

11 November 1959 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Lunch on the Grass  »

Filming Locations:

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Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Color:

(Eastmancolor)|

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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Featured in Le Bonheur (1965) See more »

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User Reviews

 
A GREAT FILM
31 August 2000 | by (San Diego, Cali) – See all my reviews

The third part of Renoir's impressionist trilogy ("The River," and "French Cancan" are the others) is a gorgeously photographed panorama of the French countryside which serves as the background for a picnic thrown by a biologist who has perfected a method for 'artificial insemination,' and who furthermore, is about to run for "President of Europe!"

Catherine Rouvel plays Nennette, a beautiful country girl who has had bad luck with men but would very much like to have a baby. After hearing about the famous doctor's techniques she decides to go and volunteer for 'artificial insemination.' She ends up being employed by the doctor's staff and goes on the country picnic with them, during which the picnicers are subjected to 'mysterious occurrences and temptations' which are produced when a certain goat-shepherd plays his wooden flute! The famous biologist, very detached and committed to strict methods of reason, starts to discover the higher harmonies embedded in nature while he falls in love with the lovely Nennette, a union to which his political cronies are opposed.

The film is rich with fantastically beautiful images. The scene of Rouvel taking a skinny dip while the doctor casts quick diffident glances her way is one of the most poetic in all of cinema. Of special note also is the scene where all the picnicers ride on mopeds through the country lanes, which was the direct inspiration for the famous bicycling scene in Truffaut's "Jules and Jim."

Renoir takes what may at first seem like just a trivial comedy and turns it into an ultra-subtle, timeless and poetic meditation on the conflict between modern society and 'natural imperatives.' As always it is Renoir's deeply romantic (in the best sense of the word)and compassionate view of humanity which underlies everything and makes his criticisms so poignant.


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