February 2023 / THE RIVER

The Film Foundation Restoration Screening Room Resource Guide for

THE RIVER (dir. Jean Renoir, 1951)

Presented in The Film Foundation Restoration Screening Room in February 2023 in partnership with Academy Film Archive, BFI National Archive, Janus Films, The Criterion Collection, and Beta Film

Table of Contents

1) Film Description

2) Special Features

-Martin Scorsese on THE RIVER

-Joe Lindner Interview

-Karen Stetler Interview

3) EXPLORE Page Materials

Video Extras

Reading List (Books)

Reading List (Online)

-Listening (Online)

-Satyajit Ray & Jean Renoir

The FIlm Foundation on Letterboxd

4) Live Screening Commentary Script

After shooting multiple films in Hollywood, the acclaimed French director Jean Renoir set off to India to shoot his first color film. While searching for locations in Calcutta, Renoir befriended a young Satyajit Ray, who would accompany him on his scouting expeditions. Lovingly shot by Jean’s nephew, DP Claude Renoir, the vibrant Technicolor underscores the turbulent emotions of the young women at the center of the story, as they begin to make the delicate transition from childhood to adulthood. Adapted from Rumer Godden’s autobiographical novel, THE RIVER deals with many of Renoir's favorite themes: love and death, decay and renewal, all seen through the prism of daily life.

THE RIVER was restored using the original three-strip Technicolor camera negative along with soundtrack elements from two safety prints.

Restored by Academy Film Archive, in association with the BFI and Janus Films, with restoration funding provided by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and The Film Foundation.

Martin Scorsese on THE RIVER

Joe Lindner Interview

Karen Stetler Interview

THE RIVER (1951)


Peter Bogdanovich Recommends: Jean Renoir's The River via YouTube.

Peter Bogdanovich Recommends: Jean Renoir via YouTube.

Jean Renoir's Honorary Award: 1975 Oscars via the Oscars's YouTube Channel.

A Conversation with Jean Renoir - Speculation no. 105a - 1966 - 60 minutes via Andy Rector's YouTube.

Late Jean Renoir Interview in English via Andy Rector's YouTube.

Orson Welles Talks Touch of Evil, James Cagney & Jean Renoir via YouTube.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir - Filmed Painting at Home (1919) via YouTube

The River | BFI Video Essay by Hannah Flint via YouTube


THE RIVER (1951)


Renoir, My FatherJean Renoir, New York Review of Books, 2001

My Life and My Films, Jean Renoir, Da Capo Press, 1991

Renoir on Renoir: Interviews, Essays, and Remarks, ed. Andrew Dudley, Cambridge Univ. Press, 1990

Jean Renoir, Andre Bazin, Da Capo Press, 1992

Jean Renoir: A Biography, Pascal Merigeau, Running Press Adult, 2017

The River, Rumer Godden, Open Road Media, 2021

THE RIVER (1951)


"The River: A New Authenticity" by Ian Christie for The Criterion Collection

"Following a Family at Home Abroad" by Peter Tonguette for The Wall Street Journal

"Higher Learning: Renoir's India" by Priya Jaikumar for Film Comment

"Great Directors: Jean Renoir" for Senses of Cinema

"Out of the Vaults: Renoir's The River, 1951" by Meher Tatna for The Film Foundation

The River (featuring texts from Andre Bazin, Dave Kehr, and more) for Sabzian

"Jean Renoir's Ethereal Coming-of-Age Romance" by Peter Bradshaw for The Guardian

Martin Scorsese's Top 10 (including The River) for The Criterion Current

Pedro Costa's Top 10 (including The River) for The Criterion Current

THE RIVER (1951)


Desert Island Discs: Rumer Godden

Renoir Oral Histories via The Wildenstein Plattner Institute, Inc

THE RIVER (1951)


"Satyajit Ray's Encounter With Jean Renoir" via SatyajitRay.org

Satyajit Ray about Jean Renoir, 10 May 1979 (in French) via YouTube.

"Jean Renoir Helped Give Us the Movies of Satyajit Ray" via The Wall Street Journal

THE RIVER (1951)


Directed by Jean Renoir

Shot by Claude Renoir

Starring Adrienne Corri

Art Director Bansi Chandragupta

THE RIVER (1951)

 THE RIVER - Live Screening Commentary Script


Welcome to The Film Foundation Restoration Screening Room! Tonight we’re screening THE RIVER (1951, d. Jean Renoir).

 You can stay with us here in the chat to learn more about the film as you watch or you can view the film full screen on-demand at 7pm.   

In this chat mode the screening is live and picture controls (rewind/fast forward/pause) will not be available. If you miss anything or need to take a break, that functionality is available when watching on-demand.  

Thanks for being here and we hope you enjoy our live commentary. We also encourage you to share your thoughts on the film as we go, making this a communal virtual viewing experience! 


00:00:00 - 00:10:00

Rumer Godden’s novel “The River” was the source material for Jean Renoir’s film. The novel is based on her own childhood in India. About the writing process she has said:

“‘The River’ is one of those rare books that is given to you.” 

She wrote “The River” when she was touring a province of India after the war. In her own words:

“Instead of going to my cabin and writing my report, I wrote ‘The River.’”

To hear her talk more about the time in which she wrote the book you can listen to Godden’s complete Desert Island Discs interview, linked to below:



00:10:00 - 00:20:00

The narration in THE RIVER is done by British actress June Tripp. She was a dancer in the West End in the 20s until she collapsed on stage in 1926 and needed an appendectomy. This eventually led to her first, and only, starring film role in Alfred Hitchock’s 1927 film, THE LODGER, which was apparently a difficult shoot for her. She wrote in her memoir “The Glass Ladder”:

“All I had to do was carry an iron tray of breakfast dishes up a long flight of stairs, but by the time Hitch was satisfied with the expression of fear on my face and the atmosphere established by lights and shadows, I must have made the trek 20 times, the tray seeming to grow heavier every passing minute. During that exhausting hour and a half, I felt a strange sickening pain somewhere in the region of my appendix scar, but forbore to complain or ask for a rest, because delicate actresses are a bore and a nuisance, and in any case, this scene ended my work on the film.” 


00:20:00 - 00:30:00

Valerie is played by actress Adrienne Corri, it was only her second film role. She would go on to make many films, including working with Stanley Kubrick on A CLOCKWORK ORANGE (1971). The two got along well—she was able to tolerate his grueling way of shooting—and they remained friends after the production ended.

Beyond her work on screen, Corri had a stage and television career. She was also a published author, writing a book about a painting that she believed was the work of a young Thomas Gainsborough. Outside of her work, she was known for being outspoken and feisty. 

She said of working with Renoir:

“He improvised, he liked to improvise and change set-ups. If he saw a beautiful tree or something he thought ‘Oh, we must get that into it’ so he’d say ‘Change the scene we have to get this tree in’ and the scene would go completely into something else.”

To learn more about Corri’s film work visit The Film Foundation’s Letterboxd page, linked to below:



00:30:00 - 00:40:00

THE RIVER was shot on location in India. Renoir made it after doing a series of films in America. When Renoir was in Calcutta scouting locations he met a young Satyajit Ray, who assisted him on his search. Ray also gave Renoir a brief outline of PATHER PANCHALI, which he had recently illustrated.

The art director on THE RIVER was Bansi Chandragupta and THE RIVER was the first film he ever worked on. He would next work on a film in 1955 when he was the art director for PATHER PANCHALI. His collaboration with Satyajit Ray would last most of Chandragupta ’s career, with the two collaborating on many films including THE MUSIC ROOM (1958), THE BIG CITY (1963), CHARULATA (1964), and NAYAK: THE HERO (1966).

To learn more about Chandragupta ’s career, be sure to visit The Film Foundation’s Letterboxd account, linked to below:



00:40:00 - 00:50:00

Jean Renoir said of shooting a film in color in India:

“India brought me the revelation of a world which by itself impressed stylization. It is probably because the country itself is naturally stylized. For instance, it’s why it is so easy to shoot good color in India because a good colorful shot in color, I think is possible only if the colors are extremely simplified and few.”

THE RIVER was shot by none-other than Jean Renoir’s own nephew Claude Renoir, who himself had a long and wide-ranging career. He shot many films with his uncle and also worked with Jacques Becker, John Frankenheimer, and even shot a James Bond film.

To learn more about Claude Renoir’s career, be sure to visit The Film Foundation’s Letterboxd account, linked to below:



00:50:00 - 01:00:00

The photochemical restoration of THE RIVER was done by the team at the Academy Film Archive. Preservation Officer Joe Lindner spoke with us about working on the restoration. He said:

“Every restoration starts with this, you examine the materials carefully, evaluate them and see what you have to work with. In the case of THE RIVER there was a Technicolor three-strip nitrate negative, that was good news because that meant there were three black and white records to record the color.”

Our complete interview with Joe Lindner , all about the restoration process, is available on this page.


01:00:00 - 01:10:00

After working in Hollywood for a few years, Renoir was dismayed by working conditions in the Hollywood system and he sought out a more independent way of working. He found that with the man who could produce THE RIVER, Kenneth McEldowney. Criterion Senior Producer Karen Stetler spoke with us about her time with McEldowney:

“Over the years we were in touch with the producer of the film, Kenneth McEldowney, he was a really interesting character....”

To learn more about the production history of THE RIVER and to see some incredible archival photos, watch our complete interview with Karen Stetler, available on this page.


01:10:00 - 01:20:00

In 1966, Renoir spoke about the friendships he made in India when he shot THE RIVER and the cultural difference between those friends and his friends in Europe and America:

“In the West, you have a friend, he comes to see you, and do you know what is the first question, ‘what are we going to do today?’ [...] In India, you never ask such a question. […] we spend one day together, we don’t say one word, we are just happy to be together, at the end of the day he goes home, feeling like he had a good day. I love that.”

To watch the complete interview with Renoir visit the link below:



01:30:00 - END

In an interview about THE RIVER, Martin Scorsese said:

“Like the river itself, the Ganges river, the picture just flows, the story just drops you into the middle of a life at the point at which she is coming of age, where it’s wonderful to be alive but terrible things happen.”

Scorsese’s complete interview about what the film means to him, is available on this page.


Thank you so much for joining us! THE RIVER was restored by Academy Film Archive, in association with the BFI and Janus Films, with restoration funding provided by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and The Film Foundation.

THE RIVER was restored using the original three-strip Technicolor camera negative along with soundtrack elements from two safety prints.

We look forward to seeing you next month on Monday, March 13th for a double feature of Abraham Polonsky’s FORCE OF EVIL and Max Ophüls CAUGHT