Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Movie of the Week – The Rules of the Game

This week’s movie: The Rules of the Game (1939).

The comedy/drama is a sly look at bourgeois life through an assorted cast of characters who all assemble at a French chateau for a hunting party (both the rich and their servants).

Writer-director Jean Renoir describes the film as a look at a civilization and culture that had become so self-indulgent and grotesque that it needed to die. And thus, the French upper-class did not find the satire of the film to be very funny when it premiered in Paris, leading to it being banned by the government. Years after WWII, France had gone through a transformation (France’s identity during the war, especially after Vichy France which collaborated with the Nazis, had taken a major hit, which prompted its new leaders like Charles de Gaulle to usher in political and social change and reform) and Renoir’s film found its audience finally. In 1959, the film was restored to a version that Renoir approved (as most of the original prints were lost or destroyed during the war), and has since become one of most revered films of all-time (Sight & Sound for example has it ranked number four on its Top 50 Greatest Films of All Time list).

Renoir worked with four cinematographers on the film: Jean-Paul Alphen, Jean Bachelet, Jacques Lemare, and Alain Renoir, creating a photography that was ahead of its time (and is still praised today). He also worked with composer Joseph Kosma and production designers Max Douy and Eugene Lourie.

The Rules of the Game and La Grande Illusion are Jean Renoir’s masterpieces (both considered to be among the best films ever made). My personal favorite of the two is The Rules of the Game, but they are both must-sees for fans of French Realism and those looking to have a strong working knowledge of cinema’s greatest films.

Trailer: Here
Available on: Blu-ray, DVD, and Streaming

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