Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe

Jean Renoir, France, 1959


At the start of this sequence the groups are evenly spaced out, each in their own place – the stilted upper class placed at their table, the servants who move around them, serving their needs, and the young people, sat in a circle next to the tent. The weather is calm and sunny. This changes with the arrival of Gaspard, an old shepherd, who is part wizard, part demigod, accompanied by his faithful goat. Gaspard starts to play on his flute, which unleashes an epic wind, instantaneously transforming the scene below into a joyous confusion, crushing the highly codified lines of social structure and established rules of distance between servant and master. Everyone becomes tangled in with everyone else. This lunatic wind destabilises the image itself, and its composition becomes increasingly anarchic. The bodies of the actors bend and twist, trying to resist the wind that topples them. They are no longer able to control (Of a effacer) their actions, they are physically incapable of controlling their postures or gestures. The wind even raises the dress of a woman, who can no longer control what she shows in front of the camera. This powerful, supernatural wind, conjured up by this semi-pagan god, produces a wide stretching anarchy across the fabric of this little societal bubble, both in the fiction of what we see and the manner in which we see it. Renoir had to use an enormous wind machine to achieve this real effect, where the actors and nothing in the image were stable or secure.


wind, upheaval.