Renoir explored political history partly as a way of commenting on the politics of his time - a technique most clearly illustrated in La Marseillaise. In 1938, France's political left was in crisis and the threat of German militarism had become inescapable. Renoir's history of the early phases of the French revolution aimed to help inspire a radical, national spirit, but it also served as a conscientious historical account. "It's the only film in my career in which I applied myself to what's known as research documentation," the filmmaker said. "I wrote very little dialogue. . . . I found three-quarters of it amongst the documents."