The River 1951 Criterion Collection
Director Jean Renoir's gentle, meditative The River (1951) looks at British colonial life in India through the eyes of a young girl. An idyllic portrait emerges, of life along the Ganges River, where 12-year-old Harriet (Patricia Walters) is the oldest in a brood of five siblings that includes a brother and four sisters who roam and play in their exotic family compound. Harriet's father (Esmond Knight) is the British owner of a jute factory in Bengal, her mother (Nora Swinburne) a content wife and mother, and the center of the children's lives their lively nanny Nan (Suprova Mukerjee).

Mixing the ethnographic feel of Robert Flaherty's documentaries and poignant coming-of-age drama, the film is a thoughtful examination of life's flow seen through Harriet's experiences with first love as a prelude to maturity. The River is given its lush, poetic tone by its narrator Harriet who falls in love with a handsome war veteran and visitor (Thomas E. Breen) to India. Harriet is joined in her adoration by a beautiful friend Valerie (Adrienne Corri) and her Eurasian neighbor Melanie (Radha Shri Ram). The arrival of this handsome stranger stirs passions in girls, signalling the death of childhood and the dawn of their womanhood.

Martin Scorsese once named this film the most beautiful color film ever made.

Director: Jean Renoir
Cast: Patricia Walters, Nora Swinburne, Esmond Knight, Radha, Adrienne Corri
Country: France, UK, India, USA
Genre: Drama, Romance

The River (1951) Criterion Collection
~ ~ ~
BD50 + DVD9 | 1080p AVC, NTSC | 01:39:27 | 43.9 Gb + 7.73 Gb + 3% rec
Language: English
Subtitles: English


Renoir Introduction - in this archival introduction, Jean Renoir explains how The River came to exist and discusses the production process. In French, with optional English subtitles. (8 min, 1080p).

Martin Scorsese - in this archival video interview, director Martin Scorsese recalls how he discovered Jean Renoir's The River and explains what makes the film so unique. The interview was conducted exclusively for Criterion in the fall of 2004. In English, not subtitled. (13 min, 1080i).

Around the River - this wonderful documentary film focuses on the life and legacy of Jean Renoir and the production history of The River. Included in it are archival interviews with director James Ivory, Alexander Sesonske (academic and Renoir's friend), Kenneth McEldowney (producer of The River), Ram Sen Gupta (cameraman), and the great Bengali director Satyajit Ray, amongst others. The documentary was produced by French filmmaker Arnaud Mandagaran in 2008. In English, not subtitled. (60 min, 1080p).

Kenneth McEldowney - presented here are audio excerpts from an interview with producer Kenneth McEldowney that was conducted exclusively for Criterion in Los Angeles in 2000. In English, not subtitled. (48 min, 1080p).
1. Setting up The River
2. Casting
3. Renoir and Rumer Godden
4. Location anecdotes
5. Legacy

Jean Renoir: A Passage Through India - this new visual essay focuses on the life and career of Jean Renoir (with an emphasis on his work after the war) and filming of Rumer Godden's novel The River. Included with the essay are production stills and plenty of archival footage. The essay was produced by film writer Paul Ryan. In English, not subtitled. (15 min, 1080p).

Trailer - original trailer for The River. In English, not subtitled. (3 min, 1080p).

The River (1951) British Film Institute
~ ~ ~
2 x BD50 | 1080p AVC | 01:38:59 | 75.3 Gb + 3% rec
Language: English
Subtitles: English



2006 Introduction by Kumar Shahani (16:17)
Filmmaker Kumar Shahani gives this lengthy introduction to the film, as he recalls his first viewing the film, the use of color by Renoir, the natural presence of the locations rather than artificial, the documentary style used, the dance sequence and more. This was originally available on the BFI DVD edition.
in English without subtitles

"Around the River" 2008 documentary (59:41)
This documentary by Arnaud Mandagaran looks back at the making of "The River", featuring interviews with many that were influenced by it as well as surviving cast and crew members. Included are producer McEldowney recalling how the project came to be, Burnier discussing her role and the later promotional tour, the difficulties of the shoot, the troubled post production and re-editing, its eventual critical and commercial success and much more. This documentary was originally available on the French Carlotta Blu-ray and the US Criterion Blu-ray.
in English without subtitles

Gallery (5:04)
An automated silent slideshow with posters, behind the scenes stills, and promotional stills.

Trailer (2:36)
The original trailer is presented here. Colors are not restored like the feature so some skin tones are off and dark colors are crushed and lacking detail. The sound is a bit hissy, but overall it does look fair, considering its age.


"India Matri Bhumi" 1959 film by Roberto Rossellini (90:13)
In 1954, acclaimed filmmaker Roberto Rossellini directed four feature films, including "Journey to Italy", "Fear" and "Joan of Arc at the Stake" starring his wife Ingrid Bergman. It would take a full five years until he returned with two projects set in India. "L'India vista da Rossellini", a 10-part television documentary series and "India Matri Bhumi", a feature length docudrama. It was in between these years that he had an affair with Bengali screenwriter Sonali Das Gupta who he then married, as well as divorcing Bergman in yet another tabloid heavy part of his life. Das Gupta helped with the writing process of "India Matri Bhumi", which showcases the India in quite a different light in comparison to other travelogues. Not focusing on the wonders or the hustle and bustle of the country, but the rural villages, the workers in the countryside, the treatment and use of elephants, as well as focusing closer on certain individuals who were locally hired for the production in the dramatic sequences. The presentation here is from the 2011 restoration of the film in 2K by Cineteca di Bologna. Colors have seriously faded over time but was restored to the best of their abilities, while also cleaning dust, scratches, debris, and other damage, as well as resynchronizing the narrated Italian audio track.
in Italian with optional English subtitles

"Around India with a Movie Camera" 2018 film (72:52)
"Around India with a Movie Camera" is a documentary compilation film by Sandhya Suri, using archival films to create a historical visual essay with images of India and India related films shot between 1899 and 1947, the time of British colonial rule. Mostly made up of silent films with music accompaniment with English text for specific explanations, there are also some sound elements such as an interview with famed Indian actor Sabu.
in English without subtitles

"Villenour (French India: Territory of Pondicherry)" 1914 travelogue short (4:20)
This silent travelogue is notable for being in color using hand painted tints to the film, showcasing a European family's arrival in the country.
Music with English Intertitles

"Manufacturing Ropes and Marine Cables at Howrah, Near Calcutta" 1909 instructional film (7:39)
This black and white film features jute weavers working by weaving and carrying the handmade ropes for mass production.
Music with optional English subtitles for German Intertitles