In a tiny cinema I sat full of anticipation. How many times have I gazed into beautiful picture postcard images of the French Riviera or Cote d’Azur enticing viewers to spend time there? Vogue, Conde Nast Travel and the whole range of magazines available at the hairdressers and my local café regularly feature this corner of the globe.
Picture this – Azur blue waters with a Mediterranean sun glistening on its surface. Pools of natural beauty are all around.
Hardly surprising that the great master painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir chose this location as his home. The movie ‘Renoir’ not only pastes these two worlds together it also offers a whole lot more if you care to observe.
I could write volumes about the film and the threads cleverly woven through the plot and script as well as what was going on in a Europe in a time of transition. Perhaps parallels and relevance for our current times?
But, lets draw our attention to the man himself. The movie focuses on the closing years of Renoirs’ life. Riddled with arthritis Renoir struggles to move and can barely hold a paintbrush without pain.
Yet, his love of painting and capturing natural beauty keeps him going. It brings a twinkle to his eye and a smile to his face. The dedicated team, who clearly love and respect him dearly, provide support and go to extraordinary lengths to enable him to continue his passion and others to enjoy his works.
Renoir had clear views about the futility of war, yet when his second of three sons Jean signs up for a second round of active service – he acknowledges his sons right of freedom to choose his own path and future.
This part of the film made me think about the number of parents who feel the need to control the destiny of their kids by closing down options that were once open to them. Goodness knows how many times I have coached unfulfilled people who made a career choice only to please their parents or for lack of the self-confidence at the time to demand the freedom to find their own path and purpose.
Jean Renoir went on to become a Hollywood Great producer being awarded an Honorary Oscar. Time spent at Cagnes-sur-Mer, Cote d’Azur influenced him greatly and undoubtedly contributed to his later success. As a father, Pierre-August Renoir had faith that his sons’ choices would all work out fine in the end. As a father he surely sewed the seeds of his son Jeans’ later ambition to express the common humanity of man through his films.
Renoir captured natural beauty in many forms and made art accessible to many – even today. I hope that I can do the same, in my own way – make art accessible to those who feel inspired to add art into their own private space. Who knows, it might just bring a twinkle to your eye and raise a smile. My first diptych (on two canvases) painting ‘Lovely Day’ is also enriched by hues of Azur blue. A painting that helps me to be free to travel there in my own minds eye – click here to make your own imaginary journey