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THE HUMAN BEAST

Director: JEAN RENOIR

FRANCE • 1938 • SUBTITLED • BLACK AND WHITE • 105 MIN.


Renoir’s second adaptation of an Emile Zola novel (after the silent Nana) updated the story to the 1930s and came partly from actor Jean Gabin’s desire to play a locomotive engineer, in this case Jacques Lantier, a man tainted with the bad blood of his ancestors. The story deals with a romantic triangle, with Gabin portraying an inherently good man who is driven by fate—incarnated in female form by Simone Simon—to murder and suicide. The human passions are stunningly complemented by Renoir’s location filming, bringing steam and sex together in a potent cocktail.

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