The Rules of the Game
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Customer Reviews:

  • Great movie, great DVD, great company
    Great movie, great DVD. The reason it's expensive is because Criterion has to license the films they distribute and also because they put out some lesser known titles (compared to this relatively well known film, that is), thus the added cost. You really do get your money's worth and support a great company....more info
  • 3.5 stars out of 4
    The Bottom Line:

    A film often found in critics' alltime-best lists, The Rules of the Game may be a bit too slowly paced for the average filmgoer but it offers a wealth of drama and incisive satire for the more patient viewer: it's a must-watch for cinephiles, but casual film fans might do better to look elsewhere....more info
  • Considered One Of The Greatest Movies Of All Time
    "The Rules of the Game" directed by Jean Renoir, is considered one of the greatest movies of all time. But, what makes a great movie? I believe there are many aspects that go into a great film. The title, plot, abstract terms, cinematic features, director, theme, actors, set design, mood and final scene all play a role in the final product.

    "The Rules of the Game" is a story about the rules of love. Of course there are very few set rules, which is the basis for this movie. For example: Jurieu is in love with Christine, but she is already married to Robert; Robert loves Christine, but he is having an affair with Marras; and Marceau is in love with Madam Schumacher, but she is already married. This carnival of love triangles continues to grow, and changes shape throughout the movie. In the end, all the relationships are destroyed, which is due to the way those in the society interact with each other.

    The characters are used to represent the uncaring pleasure that seems to saturate the movie. Robert's music boxes, as abstract terms, show how the characters can be fickle. Just like the music box would play for whoever wants to listen, the characters would love whoever caught their interest at the time. And, the camera seemed to follow the same method.

    All the cinematic features were used to pull the audience into the film. The camera seems to flow around the characters as if it was one of them. And, as the movie progresses, different characters gain its attention. Renoir uses the depth of field in order to make the flow of characters, into the audiences view, seem more realistic and less conspicuous. The depth of field is also used to balance out the scene. For example, in the scene where Christine is explaining her relationship with Jurieu to the guests, Octave and Robert are right behind her lightening the mood. Also, the sound was very realistic. When there is music in the background, the audience knows where it is coming from. There is no invisible band playing a score.
    The musical device is always shown. For example, the masquerade music plays during a large portion of the chase and fight scenes. These techniques add a sense of realism to the movie.

    "The Rules of the Game" has a great director, Jean Renoir. He is able to bring the movie to life. Without his insight and talent, the film would not be as good as it is. Renoir considered French society, "...rotten to the core." He hoped people would realize it, and change their ways. Renoir wanted the movie to be viewed as a real portrayal of the French society. The only difference is, in his society no one wore any masks. Also, he once stated that he did not follow the shooting script because his characters where always changing. Renoir liked to be absorbed by the show, and let it dictate what should happen. He did not create any main character, yet he uses society as a substitute. Each person's life is a different thread, continually interwoven throughout the scenes.

    The actors themselves do not seem to be, in any way, special. It is the way in which the film is made, and what it is designed for that makes the film a success. Renoir could have chosen just about anyone to play the characters. For example, the man who plays Robert was surprised that he was picked for the part. In the past, he had only played villains and monsters. For "The Rules of the Game," he became the imaginary owner of "La Coliniere."

    "La Coliniere" was not a set. It was a true home, and the estate grounds were also real. I am surprised to discover this fact. Most houses are too small for shooting, but this one gave Renoir enough room to film with style, and to give his film a mood of its own.

    The mood of the film is summarized in the last scene. Some characters, even though their issues are not resolved, stay at "La Coliniere." This leaves the characters' lives open for more issues to come. Reasonably similar to true life, there is no true harmony until a person is deceased. Jurieu is the only one, which we know of, who will receive that peace.

    I liked the film, because it created a feeling of true real life action. When the audience was viewing a single scene, the rest of the action did not stop. In some movies, it seems as if the rest of the imaginary world stops, while you view a particular character.

    I believe, out of all the aspects that make a great movie, the director and his vision (which include the camera techniques that Renoir used) are what made this movie work. The rest were little bonuses, which helped, but were not the cause of its success. A movie can be told very differently from one director to another. It is their vision that makes all the difference. When the movie was first shown, Renoir was so controversial that someone tried to set fire to the theater. If a person can create emotion like that from their film, it is bound to become great at some time in the future.
    ...more info
  • Yes, a DVD should be issued for this amazing film.
    "The greatest film ever made" is a difficult phrase to fling. I agree that "Rules of the Game" must be one of them. At the start, it seems merely dressed up and ordinary. You won't be disappointed, however. And if you are not impressed by the Stooge-like freneticism and theatricality of the climactic scenes, well, you've missed the point. We can only endure so much critcism and shock -- at some point we have to enjoy life, all of us. Note the "comme les autres" line as the party ends and also instances of the proverbial offering of cigarettes. The enjoyments in life are to be shared.

    And, YES ! I researched the net about this film : nearly every comment includes a statement professing that this is a contender for the greatest film ever made. So, why no DVD ?

    I didn't like the shooting scene in "Gosford Park" either. It's true, times change. What was uncomfortable 70 years ago seems shocking to us today. It's the idea of showing it, too. Why ? Whatever is to be accomplished by showing scenes of animal mistreatment can surely be done in some other way. Especially considering the resourcefulness required in making a movie in the first place.

    [Not to complain, but, I don't know why you can't do home editing of DVDs. We should be able to edit out what we don't want to see. I'd certainly remove the killing in the hunting scene for personal viewing. I've seen it once. That's plenty.]

    By the way, I've long wished I could lift my favorite scenes and make some personal DVD's showing just my fondest cinematic memories. That should be okay for personal use and not infringe on the rights of the film people. I mean, I already own the film in its entirety, right ?

    There are more things to laud and applaud in "Rules of the Game" than can be comfortably mentioned in any review. Many great moments. Great script, great directing, great acting, tremendous pacing, wonderful cinematography, tremendous window into the times, etc., etc. So, you'll just have to see it, I guess....more info

  • The DVD of the Year.
    On its surface, "The Rules of the Game" is a light farce involving the couplings - and decouplings - of an assortment of weekend guests staying at the chateau of the Comte de la Cheyniest (Marcel Dalio). Without knowing any other context, the film can be enjoyed on this level: Renoir's writing (he co-scripted) is witty and his direction is elegant and sublime. His fluid long-shots make you feel like you're gliding along in this rarified - though topsy-turvy - world; and his open approach to the actors is suffused with generosity. He never allows us to focus on one particular person, or couple, because, in this social world, "everyone has their reasons" and everyone's actions bounce and intertwine with everyone else's.

    As a homage and updating of a classic French farce, "Rules" is flawless; it is, however, as a commentary on the decline of a social order that makes this more than a cinematic souffle. Shot in 1939, "between Munich and the War" as Renoir says, the film is portrait of the European aristocracy where ethical codes (conjugal fidelity above all) are not only violated, but are even dismissed as irrelevant. Human relationships collapse and reform with sudden ease (witness the gameskeeper and the poacher) and those who cling to outmoded notions of love and faithfulness set themselves up for disaster (such as the aviator). This is the domestic complement to Renoir's war drama, "La Grande Illusion", where the mournful French and German artistocratic officers, having more in common amongst themselves than with the common soldiers of their respective nationalities, lament that mechanized warfare has rendered their class irrelevant.

    Both "Illusion" and "Rules" may seem irrelevant themselves in the US, which did not have a traditional feudal aristocracy. Yet both films fascinate by showing individuals attempting to survive, and thrive, in worlds where the old, comfortable standards no longer apply. If the aristocrats in "Rules" openly, and rather disinterestedly, conduct affairs with each others' spouses, why shouldn't a humble poacher poach a gameskeeper's wife too? If "everyone has their reasons", the famous quote from the film, then, who's to decide which "reasons" are justified or unjust, legitimate or scandalous?

    The Criterion double-disc sets its own standards. The extras are plentiful and fascinating, including interviews from the few remaining cast and crew members, the essay booklet intelligent and penetrating, and the transfer quality of the film is superb considering the film's history (having been cut at its premiere, banned, its original negative destroyed in WWII, and finally reassembled in the late 1950's). This disc was clearly a labor of love and the effort shows throughout: this disc is worth Criterion's asking price....more info

  • Renoir's vision of the disappearing French aristocracy...
    Rules of the Game is a film that displays the dishonesty of the French aristocracy and the rules that they play by in order to remain in good standards with their upper class. It begins with Andr¨¦, a heroic pilot, that has crossed the Atlantic in order to display his love for Christine. However, Andr¨¦ is rejected by Christine as she does not appear when he lands on French soil. Christine's husband, Robert, is attempting to put an end to a long love affair with his mistress, but is incapable of breaking up the affair. The four of them are united with a large group of aristocrats at their chateau for a weekend hunting party and this is where the game truly begins and the rules are set into action, which are even mimicked by the servants. Rules of the Game is directed by the cinematic genius Renoir and this shines through in this film as the story unfolds. It should also be mentioned that this film nearly got destroyed during World War II, but was reconstructed in 1959 in order for coming generations to be able to view Renoir's vision of the disappearing French aristocracy....more info
  • No film is better, and few are equal
    Everything one needs to know about life.

    If you want to sit back and observe humanity, perhaps learn some universal truths, and still have an enjoyable time, then "Rules of the Game" is for you. There isn't one moment in this movie that rings false. Every scene, every word is so devoid of guile that you may catch yourself seemingly eavesdropping on this group humans serving and being served on the eve of a holocaust no one has any interest in discussing. It is a breathtaking experience, and yet the movie is almost simple, almost ephemeral.

    ... And after "Rules of the Game," if you've yet to catch it, don't miss Renoir's equally amazing, "Grande Illusion."

    Caveat: Like all of Renoir's films, "Rules of the Game" is an unhurried, languidly-paced movie. It is likely to bore and/or disappoint those unable to sit still through anything but quick cuts and in-your-face action....more info
  • technical difficulties make this edition difficult to watch
    "Greatest film ever made" it may be. True, the restoration was lovingly done. However, for whatever reason, the subtitles are in white on a black and white film. When the background is black, you as viewer are in luck. But when the background id white... Sufice it to say that unless you speak French you are going to have a very frustrating time watching this Criterion edition of the film. A word of warning!...more info
  • A peerless, timeless, utterly transcendent film
    To all the reviewers below who express disappointment that this film wasn't as "great" as they thought it was going to be, I have one suggestion: Watch it again. And again. And again. A work of art this profound does not reveal itself in one hasty viewing. To the reviewer who said that they have never heard anyone explain exactly why the RULES OF THE GAME is such a great film, I am going to do just that, or at least try to in the limited confines I have here. Unlike just about any other fiction film ever produced, Renoir's 1939 masterpiece, I think, captures and preserves on celluloid the rhythmic whirlpool of life as it is actually lived by real humans. The conventions of the Hollywood narrative - organized around "stars," a complex-yet-hidden editing style that tells us what to look at and how to feel as we watch, and a story which itself is supposed to provide a clear moral or lesson - just cannot be found here. This fundamental difference between RULES and the kind of film most of us are used to seeing may explain the angry, even bewildered disappointment expressed by some reviewers - "Is THAT all there is?" RULES is perhaps the only film that allows the spectator to choose, and more importantly, to think for themselves about what they are seeing as they see it. I myself had heard of RULES long before I actually saw it a few years ago, and I remember leaving my first screening feeling distinctly let down. Oh, sure, I was very impressed, even awed by individual sequences (like the famous hunting scene and the great danse macabre), and as a document of French life in the last year of peace, it seemed to me well worth seeing, but what WAS all the fuss about? And then a very strange thing started to happen to me - going about my day to day existence, random scenes from the film began to appear in my mind and I found myself thinking about the characters in RULES quite a bit. At parties, I started to stand back and watch the people interact in an unconscious but beautifully choreographed dance, just like the characters in RULES do. I began paying more attention to the rigid expectations of manners and etiquette, and the subtle (and not-so-subtle) ways in which people accept and reject those rules. I even began to perceive that the one great rule which most of us adhere to is the RULE for which Andre Jurieu dies - never demonstrate true passion in public. The marvelous release of RULES on this magnificent DVD gives us all the chance to appreciate and enjoy Renoir's marvelous achievement. With each sucessive viewing, I am more and more in awe of what Renoir and his cast accomplish in this remarkable work - RULES is not a typical cinematic "imitation" or stylization of human life, it IS human life itself. This is the only fiction film ever made that seems like a documentary. The plot itself is quite simple: In the fall of 1938, famous aviator Andre Jurieu completes a solo flight across the Atlantic. Although the country goes wild over him, he pays no attention to his own celebrity, because he did it all for love - the love of a married woman, Christine, Marquise de la Chesnaye. Exposing his innermost reasons for his heroic act in a radio interview, he castigates Christine for failing to welcome him personally after his flight. In her boudoir, Christine shuts off the radio and prepares for a night out on the town with her husband, Robert. Although she does not know it, Robert is still seeing his old flame, the aristocratic Genevieve. Robert's infidelity is a secret, but Andre's public declaration of passion for Christine threatens to shame them all. Andre, driving himself insane over Christine, begs his best friend, Octave (played with Falstaffian panache and humour by Renoir himself) to intercede on his behalf. Octave, who loves Christine as a sister, persuades her and Robert to invite Andre along on a hunting party at La Colinere, the Chesnaye's country house. At La Colinere, matters reach a head one fateful night after a masked ball. Christine - who tells Andre that she loves him, yet in the end agrees to run away with Octave - ultimately remains with her husband after Andre is accidentally shot to death by Robert's gamekeeper. There is no way that a simple plot summary can indicate much about this film, but it is a start. One reviewer mentions that none of the characters are sympathetic. Perhaps. Yet none of the characters are unsympathetic, either. In this film, I feel like I am watching real people in all their messy complexity, not characters created to prove a point. Each of the characters - like each of us - has their good and bad sides, and Renoir allows all of his people to display their personalities in dizzying complexity. Andre - whose passion for Christine seems both selfish and excessive at times - loves with a force that will cost him his life. Robert is a kind, cultured, but weak man who tries to please everyone all the time and ultimately pleases no one. Christine - treated like a toy or a symbol by all the men - just wants to be loved for herself and longs for true friendship, even to the point of befriending her husband's mistress...Indeed, Christine's closest relationship is with her maid, Lisette, and not with a man at all. Even the glamorous, brittle and annoying Genevieve is revealed as suffering from her unrequited love for Robert - and is there anything more heartbreaking than being unable to stop loving someone who no longer loves you but who once did? And that is just the major characters! I should say that no one character or actor dominates this film - Renoir seems to give everyone equal screen time, allowing everyone to explain their "reasons" through their actions. The technique of this film is frankly astonishing. Renoir uses "deep focus" to stage one complex sequence after another, interweaving plot and character so skillfully that each scene seems packed with incident and implication, so much so that only repeated viewings make clear that there is not a single moment in this film which does not bear fruit in later events. And yet, how free and easy it all seems! No fiction film is more natural than this one - somehow, the actors don't seem like actors at all, but ordinary people making decisions right in front of your eyes, the consequences of which are then played out in the next exchange. The dialogue is witty and humorous - the film is also very, very funny. Many may be put off by the odd shifts in tone that characterize RULES - as in the famous hunting scene, which grows more unbearable to watch with each passing second and leaves the viewer drained, exhausted. We go to a film expecting something clear - a comedy, a drama, a documentary, a fiction - but this film swings wildly between comedy and tragedy, often within the same scene - just like life itself. Our reactions are never spoonfed and we are never told what to think or how to feel by any silly music - the only music in the film occurs when the characters play music, which is a relief after a million manipulative Hollywood scores. Other reviewers have mentioned the film's social context, so I won't go into that here. Let me conclude by saying that the RULES OF THE GAME is one of those rare art masterpieces that makes you feel life's beauty, brevity and horror all at the same time. It explores the meaning of fundamental emotions and strips away the lies we tell ourselves so we can function in society. Ultimately, RULES is a tragic film, because it shows that the basic human impulse is to love, yet this impulse is forever blocked, frustrated and destroyed by the lies we tell ourselves, the strictures we place on ourselves, and by our own inaccurate perceptions. I have no words of praise high enough for Renoir's achievement. The Criterion DVD is itself a joy - the negative of RULES was destroyed in WW II and this goregous transfer is the best we are ever likely to have. RULES is also a physically beautiful film, exquisitely lit and shot, stunningly composed, and if you have only seen this film in grainy, decayed prints, be prepared for an aesthetic revelation! This is one of those rare works of art that forces you to measure yourself against it. What conclusions will you make about your own enslavement to the "rules?"...more info
  • A classic.
    Beautiful packaging, very clear and stable transfer, nice bonuses/extras. It'll impress your friends... Don't forget Grand Illusion, also on Criterion!...more info
  • Renoir's Masterpiece
    No history of cinema would be complete without "The Rules of the Game" (1939). Director Jean Renoir's brilliant, perceptive study of a dying French aristocracy remains among the finest examples of visual poetry captured on film - as evidenced in the savage "rabbit hunt" and the haunting final shot. Along with "Grand Illusion" (1937), "The Rules of the Game" represents the high-water mark of Renoir's career. It's as close to perfection as a film can get....more info
  • Great Criterion DVD of Renior
    This is yet another fabulous DVD from the Criterion Collection. The packaging is neat: presented in a fold-out case enclosed within a blue plastic outer-shell. There's two disks in this set - the film itself and some extras, such as interviews and a BBC bio of Jean Renior's career as a filmmaker.

    This classic film is a look at class divisions in France between the world wars. It's similar in style to the recent "Gosford Park" but with a whole lot more poignancy. Whereas Gosford looks back nostalgically, Rules of the Game does so with a judgemental vengence. There's a lot of passion behind this film, which is probably what initially scared most reviewers when the film first premiered.

    Great movie - Great DVD...more info

  • Great, but Overpriced
    The Rules of the Game is a Great Film. Unfortunately it is being put out by Criterion and is overpriced. When you can get any other DVD that comes out on sale for $14.99 or $19.99, you'll have to shell out $27.97 to Criterion for Rules of the Game.

    I've heard the justifications before -- Criterion's transfers are the best and their added features are of the highest quality. This is true, and back in the days of laserdiscs and the early days of DVDs it made a difference. With the DVD craze in full fury, too many DVDs are being published today with the same care that Criterion puts in, but at a significantly lower price. Criterion is stuck in the past.

    Which is too bad, because the only way you can get The Rules of the Game and similar classic films is to pay Criterion's exorbitent prices. In a way, Criterion is holding these movies for ransom. A price I'm not willing to pay....more info

  • Great for Cinephiles, Torture for the Average Viewer
    There are plenty of pretentious review on this site declaring this "One of the greatest films of all time." To offer a different perspective, I will tell you right now, unless you live for deep social meaning and long takes, seek elsewhere. The film has its moments of beauty and exquisite cinematic technique. In particular, the hunting scene which shows creature after creature being carelessly shot and suffering the quick throes of death is powerful and difficult to watch. However, I don't agree with the "greatest" label. The plot was diluted and almost nonexistent. The characters seemed so flighty that they lacked depth. In fact, very few of them were even likable. The ending seems unresolved and somewhat careless, based on a series of ridiculous coincidences. Overall, I was unimpressed and surprised at the acclaim showered on this film. Social commentary is great in it's own right, but I have yet to have any critic present a convincing argument as to why this film is so great. ...more info
  • Movie masterpiece
    Jean Renoir's masterpiece about the decay of the French bourgoisie. The heart of the movie takes place at a country chateau; first the guests shoot down rabbits and pheasants and then later at a party the guests are shot at themselves. Behind it all are the various love affairs going on between members of this party: although love is declared between some and passions even run wild, all is kept in check by the stultifying "rules of society" that say, for instance, that a man can't run away with another man's wife unless he first talks to the offended husband, or that even after a killing has taken place one must keep up appearances and declare it "an accident." The scene at the party where the gameskeeper is running through the chateau chasing the servant who has made advances toward his wife, shooting at him, while two other men are having a fist fight for the love of Christine - and the guests are oblivious to what's going on because they think it's all part of a masquerade, is a highlight in film history. Many rate this among the greatest movies ever made. It was hated by the French when it first came out and banned by Vichy and the Nazis; later it was destroyed during a WW II bombing raid, though it was restored in 1959 from old stock. The film has been extremely influential and endlessly copied. ...more info
  • Sir Adam's Micro Review: The Rules of the Game
    Entering the film, I wasn't sure what kind of sauce Ebert was hitting when he called this "perhaps the greatest film EVER". As it came to a close, I think it is not THE BEST, but if they were to make a WFI (World Film Institute) and create a top 100 list, this would most definitely be on it. Rewatch Factor: Four and 1/2 Stars...more info
  • Movie Collector's Dream Come True
    This is the best DVD release I have ever seen. The print quality is better than new, and the extras are endless. We are lucky that Criterion acquired this movie, which has been universally praised. If there were such a thing as a 'priceless' DVD, this would be it....more info
  • A Short Review
    This is a very funny and sad film. A farce, it's full of incredible energy and incredible events. One theme (remember those rabbits): the sacrifice of an innocent scapegoat allows society to go on with its hypocrisy. It's hard to think of many comedies this tragic. Perhaps Shakespeare's "problem plays" might make a good comparison, although Marriage of Figaro seems to be the real inspiration (music from which is heard in the film). The deep-focus photography and fluid tracking shots are a real delight to watch....more info
  • Good not great
    French filmmaker Jean Renoir's 1939 black and white classic, The Rules Of The Game (La R¨¨gle Du Jeu), routinely shows up on Top Five lists for best films ever, along with classics like Orson Welles' Citizen Kane, Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samurai, and Yasujiro Ozu's Tokyo Story. But, it's not in a league with any of that tercet. In fact, while it's a good film, and a quite enjoyable one, it's not even close to being a great film. There are two basic reasons why: first is that, despite some kudos given by technical experts, the film is not nearly as visually compelling nor stunning as the Welles film, and its oft-claimed camera innovations and cinematography are not anything that wows a viewer. Of course, there are some interesting moments, and some of the nature photography is first rate, but anyone expecting to see the 1930s equivalent of The Matrix or 2001: A Space Odyssey, will be disappointed. This is, of course, not so much the fault of the film itself as it is the critics and champions who gush over every scene in the film. The second, and more important, reason this film fails to touch greatness is the manifest- its screenplay by Renoir and Carl Koch. While a slight twist, and improvement, on the screwball comedies of the day- by mixing it with the comedy of manners format (adapted from a 19th Century stage entry in that genre: Alfred de Musset's Les Caprices De Marianne, the film fails to develop a single compelling, sympathetic, or even remotely interesting character. In fact, the film fails to develop characters, period. They are all caricatures, which is not bad, in itself, if the film is solely intended as a satire. After all, is there a single realistic character in Stanley Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb? Unfortunately, The Rules Of The Games clearly tries and succeeds at being more than mere satire, and that little success is why the film's overall arch to greatness fails.
    While The Rules Of The Game is certainly a film landmark, it is clearly not a great film. Its time has long since passed, on many levels, the least of which is its provincial ideas (note the casual bigotry in the `toy Negress' Robert plays with and the anti-Semitic caricatures the bourgeoisie portray in one of their musical numbers). In a sense, its overrating mirrors that of the novel The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, which, despite its flaws, has tireless champions who likewise, identify with the characters to such a degree that they are inoculated to any technical flaws within, much less the fact that they are that book's targets. To the rest of the audience, however, is left a solid comedy that tries a little too hard to be deep, instead of what it is- entertainment. Thus I repeat, and lament, where is the French Groucho when you need him?
    ...more info
  • Review of the Criterion 2-disc DVD edition
    On the surface, THE RULES OF THE GAME is a frivolous satire of the French ruling class during the interwar years. But beneath it, this 1939 film is a rather sweeping appraisal on human nature and how the rigidity of our society continues to undermine our humanity. With a microcosmic cast of characters that comprises of masters and servants, the film weaves an intricate plot about their love, jealousies, deceit, infidelities, hypocrisies, misunderstandings, and, at times, reconciliations, and realignments of friends and foes. Through their travails, the film depicts a symbolic breakdown, and ultimately restoration, of the prevailing social order, resulting in the film being both a comedy and a tragedy. Director Jean Renoir also acts in the film, playing the pivotal role of an outsider (obviously a stand-in for the audience). His character's futile attempts to break into the "circle" and to bring about the well-beings of his friends suggest that it is often difficult to survive under the social order, let alone change it.

    The Criterion DVD is an all-region two-disc set with a newly restored video transfer and plenty of rewarding extra material. This eagerly-awaited disc was originally to be released last Fall, when Criterion had already finished a video transfer that would have looked better than any existing copy of the film. But at the last minute, Criterion received word that an earlier-generation fine-grain master of the film had been located in France, and that additional improvement, though not dramatic, could be made to the picture quality. Being the perfectionist that it often is, Criterion decided to redo the video transfer based on the fine-grain master, thus delaying the DVD's release by several months. According to the New York Times article "Hunting 'The Rules of the Game'" on Jan-18-04, the redone transfer justified the additional time and cost by yielding more details in dark areas and richer shades of grey on the picture, resulting in a less harsh look and perhaps subliminally making the characters in the film seem more sympathetic.

    The DVD's video quality is indeed the best I've ever seen. Its sharpness and clarity of details are a revelation to those who have seen, for instance, Criterion's laserdisc version years ago. A digital cleanup process has been used to eliminate much (but not all) of the dirt and blemishes. The original French audio track has also been improved, and it now sounds cleaner, with almost no hiss and pops, and more detailed. In a film that relies on its numerous visual and audio details to be effective, the technical improvements made for this DVD are absolutely worthwhile and welcomed.

    Accompanying the film is a superb analytical audio commentary written by film historian and Renoir's friend Alexander Sesonske, and read fluidly by Peter Bogdanovich. Recorded in 1989 for the Criterion laserdisc, this commentary analyzes the intricate relationships of the characters, how their actions often counterpoint one another's, and what Renoir intends to accomplish with them. It points out that the story creates two groups of quintets, each comprising of a husband, wife, lover, mistress, and interceding friend, and that the actions in one group are often the opposites of the other. The commentary also mentions the political climate in which Renoir made the film, as well as the classical works (such as The Marriage of Figaro) that inspired Renoir.

    A 30-minute excerpt of the 1967 TV documentary "Jean Renoir, le patron", originally included in the laserdisc version, is also included in this DVD. It is essentially an interview of Renoir, who talks about his shooting style, and the themes and characters of the film. There is also a rather poignant moment of Renoir reuniting with actor Marcel Dalio at the steps of the "La Colini¨¨re," where they reminisce about their experience.

    The DVD includes a great one-hour documentary on Renoir and RULES OF THE GAME, made by BBC in 1993. It recalls Renoir's childhood, upbringing, how his love of the movies developed, and his film career up to and including RULES OF THE GAME. It shows fascinating clips of his early films such as LA FILLE DE L'EAU, CHARLESTON, NANA, LA CHIENNE, BONDU SAVED FROM DROWNING, and others. It also includes comments from his family members, friends, collaborators, and other filmmakers such as Bertrand Tavernier, Bernardo Bertolucci, and Peter Bogdanovich.

    Perhaps the best supplement in the whole DVD set is a "Version Comparison" that provides side-by-side comparison of the final scenes in two versions of the film: the shorter 81-minute cut which Renoir reluctantly made in response to criticisms, and the longer 106-minute version that was reconstructed in 1959 (the version used for this DVD's presentation). Film historian Christopher Faulkner's commentary provides further elucidation on the differences between the two. Thus, we can plainly see for ourselves that the shorter version drastically eliminates many of the subtleties and alters the meaning of the film's final moments completely.

    Also valuable is a 10-minute interview footage of the two people who reconstructed the 1959 version, Jean Gaborit and Jacques Durand. They recall their multi-year efforts in finding film elements from all over the world, and eventually discovering several minutes of footage that was not in Renoir's original version (one of such footage is the long conversation between Octave and Andr¨¦ at the knoll in the countryside).

    Other extras include an 8-minute "video essay" (a featurette) on the film's production history, 3 interview segments, and several written tributes by today's filmmakers, which include a few pretty thoughtful mini-essays on the film as well as succinct comments such as that from Robert Altman: "THE RULES OF THE GAME taught me the rules of the game."...more info

  • A favorite
    One of my favorite films. Intelligent? Yes. Effective social criticism? Yes. But most notably (and perhaps least appreciated), it is a film with a big heart. Renoir shows a fascination with and a fondness for the complexities and weaknesses and absurdities of human kind. Here he touches on the universal, making the film far more rewarding than what I expected from a 65 year old piece of "social criticism."...more info
  • Genuinely boring
    One of the greatest films ever made? Just try to stay awake. Hilarious? Try to find a single laugh? Deep, moving? Are you kidding? Film critics need to get an honest job. Good grief, what a dog....more info
  • Not by Hoyle: a classic pre-WWII French film
    Hunting party where he shot a bear and got an eagle instead?
    They all love this blond Austrian Lady: I can't see the attraction.
    Parisian love triangle on love triangles, this film is confusion to most of the Americans: who is in love with who and married to who.
    Thia film has upstairs and downstairs affairs well before the BBC thought of it. A comedy-tragedy of manners is what we see performed with the Marx brothers like chase of the servant by the game warden as the comedy relief.
    Upper class rules of the bed swapping is the satire hidden in the plot?
    ...more info
  • It's worth being alive to see this movie
    I never thought of reaching 40 years old to rediscover, in a film, just what we are doing here as humans, in such a clear, bright and open way. Just like in reality, in this film there are no main characters. They all are, we all are main characters. Rich, poor, men, women, happy, outsiders, truthful, hypocrites. No concessions to distinction. In every moment, all characters fully representing their roles, no matter are they in the foreground or in an almost unperceivable corner of the screen. Welcome, 1939 Jean Renoir, welcome to our future. "Stop the masquerade!", so we say to our politicians, to the media and to ourselves. "Which one of them?" is the universal answer, one of the several universal impulses of this delightful, adorable movie and of their loveable characters. That's why I end up with a classic travel-agency like clich¨¦: Enjoy life - see La R¨¨gle du Jeu!...more info
  • A fabulous classic, exquisite cinema, Renoir as the Meastro!
    This movie is simply grandiose, Renoir truly did a wonderful job with this one. One thing that captured me is the way Renoir did the screenplay, each character in interesting. None of them are a bored for the viewer, the dialogues are still fresh after all these years and even if the movie is 70+ years old, it is still one of cinema greatest film, if you have the chance to see this one, take it. You will not regret it, I promise you....more info
  • Now I know why...
    I had no idea what to expect before watching this film. I purposefully kept myself ignorant of it because I wanted to experience it as fresh as possible. All I knew was that, for years, it has consistently placed second on the Sight & Sound polls of the greatest films of all time (Citizen Kane always comes in first). Now, knowing that a film is considered one of the greatest of all time sometimes means that you are in for a snore. There are some so-called "classics" that just bore me to tears (The Conformist or L'Aventura spring to mind).

    Yes, this is one of the greatest movies ever made. Yes, it is a satire on aristocratic society at the time. Yes, it was badly received and banned by the Nazis. Blah, blah, blah - who cares? The amazing thing is what a joy this movie is to watch. It is genuinely funny. I often hear it cited as the main influence on Robert Altman, and now I can understand why. Instead of criticizing Paul Thomas Anderson for copying Altman, we should appreciate Altman imitating Renoir. Here we see the big cast without any real central character, the anarchic humor, and the brisk energy that moves everything along.

    Like everything in the Criterion Collection, this print LOOKS VERY GOOD. This is all the more important since the original negative had been destroyed in World War II and for years only second-rate prints were available. There is a second disc that documents all the travails that this film went through, and how it was edited to several different versions. The version we have now was restored in the fifties outside (but with the blessing of) Renoir. This print is 98 minutes long. The original was 91 minutes, and we are still missing an unimportant scene from that original version. I would have liked to have had a new documentary with more commentary from contemporary filmmakers (especially Altman who admits that he learned "the rules of the game from The Rules of the Game"). However, there is a voice-over commentary track by Peter Bogdonavich, who is as good a film scholar as they come....more info

  • A Classic Among Classics
    Jean Renoir's Rules of the Game is a classic among classics in cinema. One would be hard pressed to find a reputable critic who doesn't put this film in their top-ten films of all time. This isn't just a critics' film either. It is filled with satiric wit and brilliant ideas, not to mention it's look and pace. That said, when Criterion puts out a film like this with the extras they unearth, the price is reasonable. When this company releases a film you know you are going to get a pristine transfer, (of a 65 year-old film) and extras that actually get into the film. Not an HBO making of featurette that has the actors telling you what you already know. These are featurettes that they have licenced from European broadcasters or small independent companies.
    A good example is Criterion's release of Tarkovsky's Solaris versus Soderberg's Solaris which was released by Universal. Criterion's extras are head and shoulders above the Universal release. As much as I loved Soderberg's version of the novel, the extras were painfully out of place.
    When Criterion releases a film (especially in a double disc edition as is Rules of the Game) it isn't merely just your average dvd release, it is almost an event. And worth every penny....more info
  • ROtG- Criterion
    Hmmmm.....what's to say. The movie, The Rules of the Game is considered one of the greatest movies ever made simply because it is one of the greatest movies ever made. The cinematography is innovative for it's time. The acting is excellant. The story is a fascinating sociological probe of French upper middle class culture of the time.

    But this edition is especially provocative. It is particularly interesting that the movies that are considered breakthroughs often did the worst at the box office. Renoir was nearly driven out of France for this one. The comparisons with Citizen Kane are fascinating.

    Particularly interesting in the considerable extra material provided with this edition is the intimate details of Renoir's life including rarely disclosed information about his father, the painter, Pierre-Auguste Renoir.

    The Criterion Collection would be relevant as a study piece in several courses - sociology, art, communication..... ...more info
  • Good Package of one of the World's all time best movies.
    `The Rules of the Game', written and directed by Jean Renoir is considered by most to be one of the top ten movies of all time, commonly spoken of in the same class as Fellini's `La Dolce Vita', Kurasawa's `The Seven Samurai', Wells `Citizen Kane', Eisenstein's `Battleship Potemkin' and Kubrick's `2001' I completely agree with this assessment, but with a comments on why this movie is so much different than these others.

    There are many things you can appreciate about this movie with nothing more than the English translation of the dialogue. I confess that I had to be prompted to appreciate this, but a careful viewer should be able to see how skillful Renoir and his cameramen are in making long focus shots where both foreground and background action can be seen in clear focus. The camera work may not be quite as dramatic as Eisenstein or Wells, but it is effective nonetheless. And, like these other directors, the camera shots are not done just to be clever. They are always used to capture something important, as when we see action down a hall in the middle background that puts the lie to the dialogue in the foreground.

    Another cinematic trick is how Renoir ties together several scenes by some perfectly logical devices. The most dramatic is in the first few scenes where many of the principle characters are introduced at widely separate locations by the device of having all the characters either contributing to or listening to the same radio broadcast upon the arrival of aviator, Andre Jurieu at a Paris airport upon repeating the transatlantic flight of Charles Lindbergh.

    While the cinematic devices and stage directions contribute much, the meat of the film is in the relations between the eight principal characters, forming three interlocking romantic triangles among the bourgeoisie and a parallel triangle in the servant class, linked by the `classless' character, Octave (played by Renoir himself). These various interlocking romances drive most of the action throughout the movie, and are, collectively, evidence of a rottenness in the fabric of French society. Part of the greatness of this movie is that the malady Renoir depicts probably cannot be summarized in a few words, which is why we need a two hour movie to fully play it out.

    Unfortunately for the modern American viewer who does not know French and whose knowledge of French 20th century history may be a bit weak, there is much in this movie which will be missed. The first is as simple as some word usages common to European languages but foreign to modern English. French and German both have two different modes of addressing people. One is polite and respectful for business colleagues, superiors, distant relatives, and just about everything except close relatives such as spouse, children, and close friends. The use of one form of address or the other is a dead giveaway to some aspects of the relation between people in drama. The second is present in English, but probably not very familiar to the average speaker. This is the difference between `good-bye' and `farewell'. The first simply means you are leaving for the moment, and expect to see the listener again soon. The latter means you are parting company for good, as when you are breaking a relationship and leaving for a distant land. I experienced how dramatic this difference was when I was leaving a company in Germany after a summer employment and used the German form of `farewell' and found my listeners were really touched by the distinction.

    An even more important background element is the fact that this movie was filmed just a few months before the outbreak of World War II, and everyone knew it was coming. Thus, anything said to reflect on the soundness of the French culture or `backbone' could be taken as a serious criticism of the French state. Another subtlety is the fact that the lead actress, Nora Gregor, is from Strasbourg, a German city that just happens to be in France as a result of World War I.

    The film is subtitled a `dramatic fantasy' which takes some of the bite out of the social satire, but not much. On a visceral level, I can't find a single major character with whom I am sympathetic. They are all tangled up in what seem like such shallow relationships, where the principle male character's interest in mechanical toys seems more important to him than his relation with his wife.

    This DVD includes the single most useful extra, an English commentary track written by film scholar, Alexander Sesonske and read by the noted director and film commentator, Peter Bogdanovich. This commentary illuminates almost all of the things that may be hidden by the language and the historical context.

    Most of the other extras support our understanding of the film, our appreciation of how it went from commercial flop in 1939 to its appreciation as a great film today, and our appreciation of what Renoir had to do to get the film made.

    While I do not know if older versions of the film are available, it is worth warning that this particular 106 minute version of the film is actually 12 minutes longer than Renoir's original release and almost 20 minutes longer than the version cut down after the original critical and commercial failure of the 92 minute version. While I cannot be absolutely sure the long version is better than the original, the film is so important that every scrap of information we have about the film is valuable.

    One contribution of some extras is testimonials by major directors such as Francois Truffaut and Bernardo Bertolluci on how this film influenced their careers. If I were to find anything at all objectionable about this package it is the fact that the booklet is printed with white text on a dark gray and is very difficult to read.

    This is a very important movie indeed!
    ...more info
  • LA REGLE DU JEU--legends, myths, and the facts
    With the world-spread acclaim as Renoir's classic and one of the greatest film ever made, we tend to forget that it was only 20 years after its making that RULES OF THE GAME was acknowledged as a masterpiece, when the 'restoration' as we see today was released (now with this DVD we have to realize that it was more of a 're-creation') . According to Renoir himself, some audience tried to set the theatre on fire at its original release.

    With the general acceptance of Renoir as a filmmaker of great humanitarian values, it may be also true that we tend to forget that RULES OF THE GAMES is, unlike GRAND ILLUSION which truly deserves to be popular, a hugely complex, rather in-accessible film to some, and most of all an extremely aggressive social satyre.

    The most famous quote from the film is perhaps, Octave saying "The most terrible thing on this earth is that, everybody has a good reason", which is often regarded as representing the spirit of the film, as well as Renoir's own humanist philosophy. But what the film may actually be saying is; "everybody may think he or she has good reasons, but everybody is deceiving him/herself. Everybody is a fool, and everybody is doomed".

    And the French society then, which is symbolically represented in this film mainly as a bunch of aristocrats and high bourgeois, was doomed without realizing themselves; the film was made in 1939 and the central character/the owner of the Chateau de la Coliniere the Marquis de Lachenay, is Jewish. The Nazis had taken power in Germany already 6 years ago, and the film even suggests that anti-Semitism was spreading also in France in every social class (the most anti-Semitic remark in the film is made by one of the servants, nevertheless quickly dismissed by the cook's clever but actually impotent remark), and still they continue the farcical behaviour. The film ends with the General innocently prasing de Lachenay, being "a class dignity that is dissapearing today".

    Of course, Renoir is exploiting his own gift in comedy to its extreme, so the film is unbelievably funny. It is also beautifully mis-en-scene, many scenes can be studied as a text-book of complex blocking with multiple characters and how a filmmaker can get away with it. But what is lurking beneath the hilarious, light-hearted surface of the film is extremely dark and pessimistic.

    One of the most honest remarks about the film may be from Martin Scorsese, who finds the film marvelous "but I really don't understand it, maybe because I don't come from that social class". As much as it is one of the greatest--perhaps THE greatest-- social satyre and farce ever filmed, it is not a necessary a film for everybody. But as for those who have extreme sense of humour and irony, GO FOR IT!

    The essay by film scholar and Renoir's friend Alexander Sesonske, read by Peter Bogdanovich as audio commentary, can be heard on this DVD as it was already on Criterion's Laser Disc edition, and efficiently puts the film into its social/historical context for our deeper, more precise understanding.

    Sesonske also shares fine analysis about Renoir's mise-en-scene that we often miss at first-viewing, for the film on its surface is so fluid, looks even casually shot. it certainly is not! It's one of the film that Renoir went extremely over scheduled, took a hell of a lot of time to put together. And the new High-Def transfer also allows us to observe many detailed techniques Renoir employed; lighting, focus-shifting, moving camera-- of course, after repeated viewing and careful observations.

    With the many supplements, especially with the version-comparison, this DVD edition may be the first occasion to shed some clear lights on the film's complex version history that went through so many modifications. First of all, unlike the many legends on Renoir and RULES have told us about "the original version", the 1959 restoration (the version also presented on this DVD) IS NOT what Renoir intended to show in 1939, when he first made the film.

    This version that we have believed for many years to be the closest to Renoir's original cut is actually more than 10 minutes LONGER, with many scenes that Renoir initially left on the editing room floor.

    Dispite the legends that said RULES was cut and mutilated by censorships, it was actually Renoir himself who also cut out about 10 minutes from his original cut, in desperate efforts to make the film visible after the violent reactions caused by the film's premiere.

    According to Renoir, there is still one scene that he would have liked to put back--but the materials were lost, and not yet re-discovered to this date.

    This Criterion edition is obviously a very important occasion for this film: First of all because of the clear, beautiful transfer that allows us to see the film as almost brand new and observes the many details that we used to miss with inferiors video transfers or even with bad screening prints. Secondly, with the many added information which were selected not with simple-minded cinephilic admiration to the filmmaker, but with a sober intellectual mind of really apreciating the film itself. And also, the handsome jacket design is quite nice....more info