Jean Renoir (zhäN rənwär´), 1894–1979, French film director and writer, b. Paris; son of Pierre Auguste Renoir. He made his first film in 1926. Gathering around him a devoted coterie of actors and technicians, Renoir developed a collective approach to filmmaking, favoring improvisational acting, open-air shooting, and stories stressing the changeable nature of morality. Renoir's Grand Illusion (1937), a balanced, compassionate study of people in time of war, is considered one of the greatest motion pictures ever made.
Renoir worked in Hollywood during World War II, but never fully adapted to studio filmmaking. His postwar French films play on the slippery relationship between film and theater. His films include The Crime of M. Lange (1935), A Day in the Country (1936), The Human Beast (1938), The Rules of the Game (1939), The Southerner (1944), Diary of a Chambermaid (1945), The River (1951), and Picnic on the Grass (1959). Renoir wrote the biography Renoir, My Father (tr. 1962) and a novel, The Notebooks of Captain Georges (tr. 1966).
See his autobiography, My Life and My Films (1974, repr. 1991); biographies by C. Bertin (1986) and R. Bergan (1994); study by A. Bazin (tr. 1973); C. Faulkner, The Social Cinema of Jean Renoir (1986).