Tuesday, 26 July 2011

The River, Kingfishers Catch Fire, Sashenka

The River (1951) by Jean Renoir (son of the famous painter) is a classic film that passed me by until I rented it the other day. Shot on location in Bengal, the photography is amazingly good for the period - I don't imagine many people had the least idea of what India looked like at that time. It's a coming of age story about a young girl's first crush, the plot isn't strong and the acting seems wooden. (I read afterwards that few of the actors were professionals.) Shame really, as I'm a fan of Rumer Godden's - it's based on one of her novels and she wrote or co-wrote the script.  Despite the acting, I can see why the film made an impact when it first came out.

To reassure myself, I've just re-read Kingfishers Catch Fire , another of RG's novels (1953), and found it excellent, though not entirely pc. It's about a young widow who decides to live in the mountains in Kashmir, with disastrous consquences. Godden loves India, and I always find her worth reading.

I wasn't sure about Sashenka by Sebastian Montefiore. Fascinating and educational background - before, during and after the Russian Revolution - but the main protagonist is not an appealing young woman, so the author (famous historian but first-time novelist) set himself a difficult task.

1 comment:

Vintage Reading said...

I adore Rumer Godden and this is one title I've not read - and have had difficulty trying to get a copy - so I was extremely interested in your review. Godden writes so beautifully about India. Radio 4 Extra recently broadcast and adaption of Black Narcissus which was excellent, too.