Bergstrom, Janet. "Jean Renoir's Return to France." Poetics Today 17.3, Creativity and Exile: European/American Perspectives I (1996): 453-89.
Bergstrom delves into the question of why Jean Renoir did not return to France following World War II. After directing La Règle du jeu in 1939, Renoir fled to the United States, where he resided until his death. Many French citizens and critics like André Bazin considered this a traitorous act, as all other French filmmakers who had fled to the United States had returned after the War. Especially in light of the fact that Jean Renoir had almost single-handedly molded the French poetic realist genre that was so characteristic of the pre-War time period, it seemed even more blasphemous that he would not return to his native homeland. Bergstrom also discusses a growing disparity between Renoir’s films before and after World War II. Pre-War films distinctly follow a realist style, whereas post-War films have clearly yielded to Hollywood’s influences and expectations. For this reason, it seems after World War II, Renoir fit neither French film style nor American film style, and was some awkward amalgamation of the two.
Bergstrom’s analysis of Renoir’s career before and after World War II is fascinating and quite relevant to my thesis. Her description of not only Renoir’s personal life, such as his association with communists through his wife Marguerite Houllé and his writing for the communist publication Ce soir, but also the political events of the time reveal the changes in the environment in which he lived in a span of decades. Bergstrom also mentions the process and history of creating La Règle du jeu, including Renoir’s association with various other French filmmakers and his philosophical allegiances to writers like Émile Zola. In particular, it is interesting to note Bergstrom’s argument that La Règle du jeu’s failure fueled Renoir’s reluctance to return to France after the War.