Cinema Lumiere - Sala Officinema/Mastroianni > 18:00


Jean Renoir
Introduced by

Laurence Braunberger (Les Films du Jeudi)

Piano accompaniment by

Donald Sosin


Sunday 25/06/2023


Original version with subtitles


Film Notes

After the financial failure of Nana, which has profoundly disturbed him, Renoir tries to grasp at straws, taking on subjects that hold little fascination for him… Then, along comes the most banal commission for a military vaudeville, a barrack-room comedy that had done the rounds of all the theatres of Paris and the provinces at the time. Far from discouraging Renoir, the theme inspires him; he returns to his original canvas, a commedia dell’arte with a degree of improvisation and fantasy that can still dazzle us today. It is in this film, I believe, that we see the genius of Renoir’s direction most clearly: he dares to do everything that   is “forbidden” and his way of making the characters enter and exit the frame, sometimes within the same scene, revealing only an arm, a leg or a hand in front of the camera, gives the impression that life springs up all over the place only to disperse in all directions. The whole thing takes place as though unstaged and this game of make-believe will become Renoir’s great art form…
Tire-au-flanc marks the end of Renoir’s period of influences (Stroheim, Zola, Chaplin) and the beginning of the freedom of a filmmaker who is discovering exactly what he wants to do. By the same token, it is the only truly comic film in silent cinema, the only one that, in any case, still makes me laugh as much as Buster Keaton, perhaps not in quantity but at least in quality, and in terms of craziness it even brings to mind the Marx Brothers… Truffaut, who had a great affinity for this film, was perfectly right when he mentioned that there was a strong likelihood the work had influenced Vigo’s Zero for Conduct; it contains the same anarchic element, the same delight in overturning all the conventional rules, except that in Renoir’s picture, it remains amiable, whereas in Vigo’s it ends in complete disorder.

Jean Douchet, “Cahiers du Cinéma”, n. 482, June-July 1994

Cast and Credits

Sog.: dalla pièce omonima (1904) di André Mouëzy-Éon e André Sylvane. Scen.: Jean Renoir, Claude Heymann, Alberto Cavalcanti, André Cerf. F.: Jean Bachelet. Scgf.: Erik Aaes. Int.: Georges Pomiès (Jean Dubois d’Ombelles), Michel Simon (Joseph Turlot), Félix Oudart (il colonnello Brochard), Jean Storm (il luogotenente Daumel), Maryane (Mme Blandin), Jeanne Helbling (Solange Blandin), Kinny Dorlay (Lily Blandin), Fridette Fatton (Georgette), Paul Velsa (il caporale Bourrache). Prod.: Pierre Braunberger. DCP.