I had a piece of film that I used to show myself all the time under the piano; it lasted two minutes and you could see galloping horses hooves, a mysterious stranger turning his head, a lady dressed in white lace holding a pair of opera glasses and accompanied by a gentleman in a top hat; I saw this film hundreds of times and it was not until almost 35 years later that I saw Renoir's Nana at the Cinematheque and suddenly shouted out: "That's my piece!"
So I would say I'm very much influenced by Renoir.
— Alain Resnais, The Cinema of Alain Resnais (1968) by Roy Armes, whose source is Cinéma 65 Nos. 91-92, Dec. 1964-Jan 1965.
Last year I read all but one chapter of Noel Burch's late-60s book, Theory of Film Practice. The chapter I skipped was called "Nana, or Two Kinds of Space." Then, recently, after I picked up the region-1 Lionsgate Renoir box and saw Nana, I went back and caught up with the chapter. It's a terrific book. (The film modernists, like Resnais, Godard, Bresson, and Hanoun, feature heavily in it.) I'd never read a film book so thoroughly form-focused before, at the expense of narrative, character development, theme, etc. Burch has repudiated it since, as he has so many other phases of his career (always moving on!). The last thing I read by him was an encomium to Showgirls in Film Quarterly a few years back.
Sounds great, Girish. I'll have to track it down. I haven't seen Nana. In fact, of Renoir's films I think I've only seen the biggies, Grand Illusion, Rules of the Game.
I love this story -- one of Resnais's strongest influences isn't a Renoir film in total but a memory fragment that took 35 years to resolve. It's so fitting.
Wow I didn't think of it when I first read your post but that's perfect.