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Realist Film Theory and CinemaThe Nineteenth-century Lukacsian and Intuitionist Realist Traditions$
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Ian Aitken

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780719070006

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: July 2012

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719070006.001.0001

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La Bête humaine, the evolution of French cinematic realism and naturalism 1902–38, and the influence of the nineteenth-century tradition

La Bête humaine, the evolution of French cinematic realism and naturalism 1902–38, and the influence of the nineteenth-century tradition

Chapter:
(p.28) 2 La Bête humaine, the evolution of French cinematic realism and naturalism 1902–38, and the influence of the nineteenth-century tradition
Source:
Realist Film Theory and Cinema
Author(s):

Ian Aitken

Publisher:
Manchester University Press
DOI:10.7228/manchester/9780719070006.003.0012

This chapter discusses the influence of the naturalist tradition on early French cinema, covering the pictorialist naturalist school of the 1920s, the cycles of Zola adaptations that appeared between 1902 and 1938, and the ‘social-realist’ cinema of Renoir. The categorical map of the significant realist French film production of the 1930–8 period is meant to be neither exhaustive nor definitive. The chapter emphasizes that La Bête humaine focuses on a disturbing and morally corrupt social order, which conforms closely to one of the most important features of the critical realist/naturalist tradition in its employment of an indeterminate aesthetic style. It concludes by accounting for Renoir's La Bête humaine in terms of the model of critical realism.

Keywords:   naturalist tradition, French cinema, Zola adaptations, social-realist cinema, La Bête humaine, aesthetic style, critical realism

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