Nana

1926 [FRENCH]

Drama / Romance

0
IMDb Rating 6.7 10 816

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Synopsis


Uploaded By: FREEMAN
September 28, 2021 at 04:05 PM

Director

Cast

Dennis Price as Le jockey de 'Nana'
720p.BLU
1.51 GB
968*720
No linguistic content 2.0
NR
24 fps
2 hr 48 min
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Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Bunuel1976 7 / 10

NANA (Jean Renoir, 1926) ***

This is the first Jean Renoir Silent film I have watched and perhaps rightly so since it is generally regarded to be his best, besides being also his first major work. Overall, it is indeed a very assured and technically accomplished film which belies the fact that it was only Renoir’s sophomore effort. For fans of the director, it is full of interesting hints at future Renoir movies especially THE DIARY OF A CHAMBERMAID (1946) and THE GOLDEN COACH (1952) – in its depiction of a lower class femme fatale madly desired by various aristocrats who disgrace themselves for her – but also THE RULES OF THE GAME (1939) – showing as it does in one sequence how the rowdy servants behave when their masters' backs are turned away from them – and FRENCH CANCAN (1955) – Nana is seen having a go at the scandalous dance at one point. Personally, I would say that the film makes for a respectable companion piece to G.W. Pabst’s PANDORA’S BOX (1928), Josef von Sternberg’s THE BLUE ANGEL (1930) and Max Ophuls’ LOLA MONTES (1955) in its vivid recreation of the sordid life of a courtesan.

Having said all that, the film was a resounding critical and commercial failure at the time of its release – a “mad undertaking” as Renoir himself later referred to it in his memoirs which, not only personally cost him a fortune (he eventually eased the resulting financial burden by selling off some of his late father’s paintings), but almost made him give up the cinema for good! Stylistically, NANA is quite different from Renoir’s sound work and owes a particular debt to Erich von Stroheim’s FOOLISH WIVES (1922), a film Renoir greatly admired – and, on a personal note, one which I really ought to revisit presto (having owned the Kino DVD of it and the other von Stroheims for 4 years now). Anyway, NANA is certainly not without its flaws: a deliberate pace makes itself felt during the overly generous 130 minute running time with some sequences (the horse race around the mid-point in particular) going on too long.

The overly mannered acting style on display is also hard to take at times – particularly that of Catherine Hessling’s Nana and Raymond Guerin-Catelain’s Georges Hugon (one of her various suitors)…although, technically, they are being their characters i.e. a bad actress (who takes to the courtesan lifestyle when she is booed off the stage) and an immature weakling, respectively. However, like Anna Magnani in THE GOLDEN COACH, Hessling (Renoir’s wife at the time, by the way) is just not attractive enough to be very convincing as “the epitome of elegance” (as another admirer describes her at one stage) who is able to enslave every man she meets. Other notables in the cast are “Dr. Caligari” himself, Werner Krauss (as Nana’s most fervent devotee, Count Muffat), Jean Angelo (as an initially skeptical but eventually tragic suitor of Nana’s) and future distinguished film director Claude Autant-Lara (billed as Claude Moore and also serving as art director here) as Muffat’s close friend but who is secretly enamored with the latter’s neglected wife!

The print I watched – via Lionsgate’s “Jean Renoir 3-Disc Collector’s Edition” – is, for the most part, a lovingly restored and beautifully-tinted one which had been previously available only on French DVD. Being based on a classic of French literature (by Emile Zola, no less), it cannot help but having been brought to the screen several times and the two most notable film versions are Dorothy Arzner’s in 1934 (with Anna Sten and Lionel Atwill and which I own on VHS) and Christian-Jaque’s in 1955 (with Martine Carol and Charles Boyer, which I am not familiar with).

Reviewed by agboone7 6 / 10

A solid and entertaining silent film by the father of French cinema, Jean Renoir

"Nana" (1926) is the third film by the great Jean Renoir. I've been unable to find his first film, which he co-directed with another filmmaker, but having seen his second film and solo debut, "La fille de l'eau" (a.k.a. "Whirlpool of Fate"; 1925), I was a bit surprised by "Nana", for a few reasons.

First, there's the star of both films, Catherine Hessling. In "La fille de l'eau", she played an innocent young girl, and she did so about as well as could be expected, given how almost absurdly overdrawn her character was in terms of virtue and purity. In "Nana", suffice it to say, her role is a bit different. She plays a tart, a prostitute. Once again, her character is ridiculously exaggerated, caricatured to an absolutely laughable extent. Here, however, unlike in Renoir's last film, Hessling does nothing to help matters. Her acting in "Nana" is so over the top that it at times becomes a marked hindrance to the integrity of the film. I would expect this kind of performance in a Keystone comedy from 1914, maybe, but not from a Renoir film in the latter half of the '20s.

Furthermore, the narrative breaks down into tragic melodrama in the latter portion of the film, and any thematic substance from the first half of the film is ultimately diluted in the perceived necessities of plot and story. This is unfortunate, but not unexpected; it's common of so many silents from this era.

That, however, is about the extent of my criticism for the film. It's a good film, overall, or at least a solid one. In some ways it surpasses "La fille de l'eau", and in other ways it falls short of it. The narrative in "Nana" is stronger than its predecessor's: The characters are more complex and less archetypal, and the themes are more pronounced while they last. To venture further into the subjective, I'd say that "Nana" has higher entertainment value than Renoir's last film, and that it's more dramatically engaging.

On the other hand, there was an element of visual poetry in "La fille de l'eau" that is missing from "Nana". Perhaps it's the issue of color tinting, at least in part. I've always felt that color tinting degrades a film's artistic value. "La fille de l'eau" was not tinted, and it preserved a certain artistry in the film's aesthetic that the tinted images in "Nana" simply can not match. I will concede, though, that if Renoir is going to insist on color tinting, the tinting in "Nana" is handled well — a series of similarly toned warm tints, providing a more consistent visual mood than, for instance, the messy rainbow of colors from all parts of the visible spectrum in Fritz Lang's "The Spiders" films.

"La fille de l'eau" also featured impressive montage, and one wonders where the editing talents displayed in that film disappeared to for "Nana". That's not to say that "Nana" is poorly edited, but simply that it doesn't exhibit the noticeably skilled use of montage that we saw in the former film. Renoir is credited for the editing in "Nana", whereas I can't find a credit for the editing in "La fille de l'eau", so it's possible that it wasn't Renoir's editing talents that we saw in that film, although I'm still willing to guess that it was.

Finally, "La fille de l'eau" gets a nudge for a fantastic dream sequence that I'm sure anyone who saw the film will remember. But enough contrasting. There are certainly similarities as well. The most obvious place where the two films can be compared is in their social inclinations. Both films, and for that matter every Renoir film I've ever seen, feature a blending of characters from different social classes. "Boudu Saved From Drowning", "The Lower Depths", "Grand Illusion", "The Diary of a Chambermaid", "The Golden Coach" — Renoir loves to throw lower class characters and upper class characters into the same setting and see what comes of it. It's his way of exploring his humanist disposition. Other filmmakers have done it in their own way. Kurosawa liked to look to the lower classes alone to find the true nature of humanity. Visconti, though not exactly a humanist, liked to look largely to the upper classes to explore human nature. Renoir likes to look at both, together — the coexistence of the two in a particular setting — and he defines humanity through the shared qualities, as well as the conflicts, that arise under those conditions.

"Nana" is a very much a male film, in that, like Luis Buñuel, there is a focus on the power of the female, and the manner in which a woman can trigger a maelstrom of chaos in the lives of the men who fall at her feet, and who set aside everything — even that most precious social status and respectability — in order to attain the object of their passion. This theme has the potential to be feminist, of course, but not here. The film's sympathies are almost entirely with the despairing male characters, and the female tantalizer is depicted as an absolutely ridiculous human being (although she is ultimately afforded a small degree of humanity).

On a side note, there's a role in 'Nana" for Werner Krauss, the German actor who appeared in films like Wiene's "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari" and Pabst's "The Joyless Street". He's good. In fact, excluding Catherine Hessling, the whole cast is pretty good.

The film is made by a fairly young and inexperienced Jean Renoir, and yet it is clearly the work of a professional. Renoir was not the master of the cinema that he would later become, but already he was a good filmmaker, and his talent for storytelling is evident even this early in his career.

RATING: 6.00 out of 10 stars

Reviewed by timmy_501 6 / 10

Renoir's sophomore slump

Aesthetically notable only for the baroque vastness of its underutilized interiors, Nana is conventional in both narrative and form. The only exception to this is the final scene, which offers a neat blend between an objective depiction of reality and Nana's delirious perspective. Nevertheless, given the film's languorous pace at over two hours, even this well executed scene arrives too late to make much of an impression. Renoir's regression to a less innovative style is especially disappointing given the promise of the Impressionistic techniques on display in his previous film Whirlpool of Fate.

Unfortunately for a work that relies so heavily on plot, neither the characters nor the standard "loose woman brings about the downfall of herself and several others" details are especially well developed. The broad (even for a silent) acting style further limits Nana's appeal. Overall, this film's reputation as Renoir's best silent baffles me and I can only assume that those who prefer it to Whirlpool of Fate value staid theatricality over cinematic innovation.

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