The River ★★★★★


Gosh, a moment of silence for how this masterpiece moves and looks and feels, each set within a physical and spiritual manifestation of the ebb and flow of existence. Renoir dissects the limitations of the visual and the spoken word - a charming, matter-of-fact voice over soon turning cosmic, unable to keep up with life's serene transitory energy. And the images, first exotic and distanced before an eventual equilibrium of the past and present; an understanding of the lingering threats of the British Raj and a future brimming with possibility. It only makes logical sense that Satyajit Ray got his start on the first color film shot in India, and the first by Renoir - the clear-eyed, respectful, often complicated representation of India is a turning point for its own independence and cinematic history, with Renoir deliberately ignoring stereotypes of tigers and elephants and other totems of otherization. Here, the incompability is well-documented, with its uncomfortable, delicate melodrama highlighted by the forces of nature among its observations. And in spite of all this, The River is so free-flowing, so completely all-consuming, lost in the constant state of its form, that the present rises up as little functional vignettes. This film is so free that it floats into a montage of napping that goes on for minutes. Every moment is *the* moment, and it's all sublime. Every tree, dance, kiss and shadow. Every candle, snake, and boat. It all provides devastating, warm-blooded presence to the mythic notions of life and culture. There is no greater movie.

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