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The Rules of the Game

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Kurosawa Fan

Joined: 25 Feb 2004
Posts: 12
Location: Cleaning up the broken glass on Mulholland Dr.

PostPosted: 05.10.2004 2:22 pm    Post subject: The Rules of the Game Reply with quote

This is just a small review I wrote after watching the film last night. Has anyone else seen this? If so, comments?

My second expedition into the world of Jean Renoir was not as good as the first, but it was still great. The Rules of the Game is a piece of scathing social satire, a sometimes hilarious but always controversial look at the rotten upper class of society.

According to Renoir himself, when he first screened this film, people were trying to tear out the seats to throw them at the screen. One man lit his newspaper on fire in an attempt to burn the theater down. It was his worst failure, and that's because his portrayal while exaggerated was largely correct. He hit a nerve.

The performances in this film were all picture perfect, though my favorite was Marcel Dalio as Robert. He was so in control of his emotions and appearance with others around, until his wonderfully hysterical breakdown. Julien Carette was certainly the most comical of the players, portraying recently hired former poacher Marceau. His pursuit of a certain maid was funny, and then became ridiculously funny as her husband discovers them.

Renoir himself plays Octave, hopelessly in love with Roberts wife, though unable to admit it to himself or anyone else. He is great, and I find it amazing that he was able to juggle directing and acting with such ease.

The films only fault lies in the slow beginning. I understand what Renoir was trying to accomplish. It moves slow and develops these complicated situations until it inevitably explodes in our faces, however I was starting to become a bit disinterested before the explosion took place. I think the build-up could have been heightened a bit, but it's a small complaint in the long run.

Renoir said that the first reason he made the film was to expose this rotten society for who they were. The second reason was because he wanted to make a film that was classical in feel and classical in score, getting away from the realism movement. He attained both goals. The direction was a very basic approach, much like the classic films before. There were very few difficult shots or camera tricks. Along with that, the film was accompanied by classical music, all very old in sound. I'm not a connoseur of classical music. I recognized some, but I don't know if the entire score was already composed or not.

Renoir had set the bar very high with Grand Illusion. With The Rules of the Game, he followed up on his own high standard of work and thus bumped the bar up higher. I rated it an 8 largely because of the long set-up to the conflict, though I'm fairly positive that with a second viewing my rating would go up and the boredom I felt for a short time would be eliminated.

I was shakey about this film going in, due mostly to the fact that I haven't really enjoyed some other social satires I've seen(The Ruling Class), but I was very pleasantly surprised by this one. It is a definite recommendation to anyone who has yet to see it.
If my thought-dreams could be seen

They'd probably put my head in a guillotine

But it's alright Ma,

It's life and life only
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Key Grip

Joined: 11 Dec 2004
Posts: 29

PostPosted: 12.11.2004 7:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It was for decades the regular runner-up to Kane in international critics' polls, now 3rd with Vertigo in between. Grand Illusion probably has wider appeal, as Rules of the Game is a more adventurous mix of farce, romance, melodrama, tragedy as well as satire. The rabbit hunt may be upsetting for some but perhaps makes a necessary point about unappealing Aristocratic values. Renoir was a lover of nature and the countryside (see also the lovely lyrical A Day in the Country). He certainly exposed weaknesses in the French social system at the time that angered the French but the war quickly confirmed.

The camerawork and choreography in the film are superb but in typically unobtrusive- whereas Kane, for instance, draws attention to its qualities and demands superlatives. Renoir was a modest international humanist, whom Welles, among others, considered the world's best director. He towered over a golden decade of French cinema as few directors have ever done.
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