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Why is "Rules of the Game" (1939) considered such a masterpiece?


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Yello.

 

Note: spoilers and misspellings galore to follow:

 

Not meaning to sound pretentious, but I have been on a big foreign film kick lately. Watched (and loved) Rashoman for the first time, watching Orpheus and liking it, enjoyed Les Diaboliques

 

NOTE: All of the above and below can be seen in complete form on youtube.

 

So the other night, I checked out Rules of the Game Jean Renoir's 1939 film.

 

Man was that thing BORING! Tepid, un-interesting, feauturing supporting characters of little or no importance, and (I know nothing about film mechanics) but (in my nth rate opinion) very dull and shot without any real (I'm searching for the right word, and failing) "zest."

 

Yes, zest was the best I could do.

 

The last-minute plot point that Octave (played by a very chubby and unappealing Renoir himself) is in love with Christine has ZERO plausibility- almost struck me as an ego trip by the director akin to Woody Allen's inserting himself as the paramour to the unending parade of hot babes in his mid-nineties works. And, while we're on it, the fact that the plot was driven by multiple men falling in love with Christine also did not register with me because (and I have the feeling this is going to go over like a **** in church with some of you) the actress who played her was A DOG! I mean, woof!

 

So, imagine my surprise when I read up on it later to discover that (according to multiple sources) it is often ranked as the #3 filme du all time, behind Citizen Kane and Casablanca. People generally refer to it as "flawless" a "masterpiece."

 

For some reason the fact that it is in "deep focus" means that it is genius. I don't see why everything in the picture being in focus is something to be proud of.

 

I am aware completely of the socio-historical significance of it: that it is an attack on the amoral and decaying values of the French aristocrats, especially in the face of what was to come in the ensuing years-

 

But if you take the film out of historical context, you have (in my lowly opinion) a really dull and far-fetched little entry in world cinema.

 

What the hell?

 

JG

 

PS- I liked Gosford Park very, very much.

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I've never been the biggest Renoir fan, despite having seen most of his films.

 

I think the deep focus is certainly one strength, but specifically the film's ability to weave multiple characters in one big romantic farce. The way Renoir stages those cat and mouse scenes from room to room in that house is quite impressive, and has been duplicated in many films.

 

Also, the movie was controversial in its stance against the bourgeoisie, which led to the film being panned by many critics.

 

All in all, I wouldn't rank it as one of the 10 or even 20 best films ever, but I could say the same about many classic films which get rave reviews from critics. It's a good film, but not great. Maybe with repeated viewings, I'll change my stance on it and call it great.

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I thought it was a brilliant satire that weaves many characters' tales together. Although Grand Illusion is probably my favorite Renoir (and I am a big fan).

 

As for Deep focus. It is the point that we aren't just focused on what is going on in the foreground but what is going on in the background too. So visually there is a lot of interesting things to see in the film and film after all is a visual medium.

 

I have only seen the film once and I would love to see it again. But I recall my favorite moment is the scene when the Danse Macabre is playing. I also like the irony of how Renoir starts with the pilot character. Usually the character you introduce is the main character. But this character ends up just being one player and not very important in the grand scheme of things.

 

There are just a lot of fascinating things about the film.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I've seen the film once, but I feel that critics have a tendency to overrate it; hell, I overrated it for a time in my life! I'd love to see it again, so I can catch all of these details that people are talking about here.

 

****!

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