Erich von Stroheim (center) plays Captain von Rauffstein in Grand Illusion.

  • Erich von Stroheim (center) plays Captain von Rauffenstein in Grand Illusion

Thankfully, the new print of Grand Illusion playing this week at the Gene Siskel Film Center is not BluRay crisp. The lighting doesn’t seem too clear, nor do figures in the foreground seem to pop out at you. Unlike the restoration of Children of Paradise that the Music Box presented from DCP in May, this print doesn’t make the film look like it was shot yesterday. The backgrounds remain a little fuzzy; when you look to the rear of the images, the lines distinguishing objects from their surroundings start to blur.

This fuzziness feels appropriate to Illusion, as its director, Jean Renoir, was a master at depicting moral ambiguity and the erratic nature of human interaction—in short, the fuzz we all live in. His movies feel so organic in their organization that one doesn’t think of a “Renoir shot” in the way one thinks of images bearing the distinct imprint of Sergei Eisenstein, Yasujiro Ozu, or Jean-Luc Godard. The director’s view of humanity emerges instead through the seemingly casual accumulation of behaviors. (Among current releases, Richard Linklater’s Bernie may be the only heir to this style of filmmaking.)