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The Rules of the Game(1939)
Director Jean Renoir's look at bourgeois life in France at the onset of World War II follows an assorted cast of characters - the rich and their poor servants - as they interact at a French chateau.
For more about The Rules of the Game and The Rules of the Game Blu-ray release, see The Rules of the Game Blu-ray Review
Starring: Nora Gregor, Paulette Dubost, Mila Parély, Odette Talazac, Marcel Dalio, Julien Carette
Director: Jean Renoir
» See full cast & crew
The Rules of the Game Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, November 19, 2011
Jean Renoir's "La règle du jeu" a.k.a "The Rules of the Game" (1939) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Criterion. The supplemental features on the disc include a short introduction to the film by the French director; comparative analysis of the different versions of the film; a film program created by film critic and director Jacques Rivette; part one of film critic David Thompson's two-part BBC documentary "Jean Renoir"; interviews; and more. The Blu-ray also arrives with a 40-page illustrated booklet featuring writings by Jean Renoir, Francois Truffaut, Hneri Cartier-Bresson, and Bertrand Tavernier; an essay by professor Alexander Sesonske; and tributes to the film by various writers and directors. In French, with optional English subtitles for the main feature. Region-A "locked".
Jean Renoir's The Rules of the Game is a film with many characters but without a hero. It is also a film without a climax. The focus of attention in it is on the unique atmosphere the characters share, the manner in which they interact with each other. There is a story, but how it starts and how it ends is practically irrelevant.
The film opens up with an event worthy of a celebration. Andre Jurieu (Roland Toutain), a pilot, has just completed a trans-Atlantic flight. He is greeted by hordes of reporters who begin asking him questions. The only thing that is on his mind, however, is the woman he loves. He did if for her, yet she is nowhere to be seen. The missing woman is Christine (Nora Gregor, Olympia, But The Flesh Is Weak), the wife of the wealthy Marquis Robert de la Cheyniest (Marcel Dalio, La grande illusion, Sabrina), who has an affair with the beautiful Geneviève de Marras (Mila Parely, Beauty and the Beast, Le Plaisir).
The heartbroken and angry Andre meets his old friend Octave (played by director Renoir himself), who manages to get him invited to Robert's lavish hunting party at the villa La Coliniere. Among the guests are also a conservative general (Pierre Magnier, La roue), a few of his best friends, and other local aristocrats.
As preparations for the hunt begin, rumors spread and verbal gossip begins to fly - everyone is convinced that Andre's presence is a sure sign that Christine will make their affair public. Instead she announces that Andre is only a good friend, which pleases enormously Robert because he has been seriously concerned that the pilot might steal his wife. Robert then decides to end his affair with Geneviève, to show the guests that he is just as committed to his wife as she is to him - incorrectly assuming that Christine already knows about his affair.
Meanwhile, the staff servicing La Coliniere also gets caught up in a similar game of revelations, which involves Christine's maid, the bubbly Lisette (Paulette Dubost, Four in a Jeep, Lola Montès), her husband Schumacher (Gaston Modot, L' Age d'Or, Children of Paradise), and the naive thief Marceau (Julien Carette, La Bête Humaine), who has recently started flirting with Lisette.
Renoir's The Rules of the Game has a very unique form and style inspired by the classic works of Beaumarchais and Musset, as well as a specific narrative structure that no other film from the 1930s has. It does tell a story but not a conventional one - the focus of attention is not on the main characters and the specifics of their dealings but on the social bubble they are sucked into.
The bubble, with its rules and the games the characters play in it, is a metaphor for the strange socio-political vacuum that existed in France during the 1930s. Renoir once said that he specifically targeted the French bourgeoisie with his film, which had completely isolated itself from the dramatic events that were underway prior to WW2. In the film similar isolation occurs, and at the end a horrific act is greeted with a familiar indifference.
The film is essentially built upon two sets of comparisons. The first targets the various revelations and the manner in which they are greeted and commented on by the wealthy guests in La Coliniere. The second places the staff revelations and reactions against those of their masters. Both sets are filled with various political overtones about the then-current class system in France.
The film's premiere in 1939 was a complete disaster. The French government also wasn't impressed by its message and banned it. (The Nazis also banned the film once they occupied France). By the late 1950s, however, The Rules of the Game was already considered by many the greatest film ever made.
Note: The original version of The Rules of the Game, which prompted the French government to ban the film, ran at approximately 94 minutes. However, after the film's disastrous premiere Renoir reduced it to 81 minutes. During WW2, the original cut of the film was destroyed. In 1959, the film was reconstructed from various surviving elements, with Renoir's approval. The newly created version, which is also included on Criterion's Blu-ray, runs at approximately 106 minutes.
The Rules of the Game Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Jean Renoir's The Rules of the Game arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Criterion.
The following text appears inside the booklet provided with this Blu-ray disc:
"The original negative for the film was destroyed during a World War II bombing raid. In 1959, with Jean Renoir's approval, the movie was reconstructed by Jean Gaborit and Jacques Durand, resulting in today's renowned 106-minute version. In preparation for the original DVD release of The Rules of the Game, Criterion searched at length for a 35mm fine-grain master processed directly from the negative of Gaborit and Durand's reconstruction, and one was finally located at the French film lab GTC in 2003. This high-definition digital transfer of the fine-grain master was created on a Spirit Datacine. Due to the nature of the reconstruction, which is comprised of elements from various sources, there are noticeable variations in quality; nonetheless, this version is made from the best existing materials. Thousands of instances of dirt, debris, and scratches, were removed using MTI's DRS both in 2003 and 2011.
Telecine supervisors: Lee Kline, Maria Palazzola.
Telecine colorist: Jean-Marc Moreau/Vdm, Paris."
Once again, Criterion are to be commended for a remarkable presentation of a film that has never ever before looked this good. I've seen The Rules of the Game projected a number of times during the years and owned it on various formats (VHS and DVD), but this is the first time I am completely satisfied with the way it looks. Bravo.
As noted above, because of the nature of the reconstruction there are indeed certain image fluctuations. For example, clarity after Andre's landing suffers (see screencapture #6) and elsewhere color reproduction occasionally appears rather problematic (see screencapture #7 where the blacks are overwhelming). Occasionally, inherited wear and damage are also present. However, detail and contrast levels are surprisingly good. Various close-ups also convey enormously pleasing depth (see screencaptures #1 and 3). Some noise corrections and stabilizations have been performed, but the integrity of the image is very much intact. There are no traces of post-production sharpening either; the rawer sequences, in particular, have not been manipulated. Lastly, it is clear that every effort has been made to stabilize the image as best as possible. All in all, I am pleased and very impressed with the film's transition to Blu-ray. (Note: This is a Region-A "locked" Blu-ray disc. Therefore, you must have a native Region-A or Region-Free PS3 or SA in order to access its content).
The Rules of the Game Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There is only one audio track on this Blu-ray disc: French LPCM 1.0. For the record, Criterion have provided optional English subtitles for the main feature.
The following text appears inside the booklet provided with this Blu-ray disc:
"The original monaural soundtrack was remastered at 24-bit from a 35mm magnetic audio track. Clicks, thumps, hiss, and hum were manually removed using Pro Tools HD. Crackle was attenuated using AudioCube's integrated workstation."
The French LPCM 1.0 track has a limited dynamic amplitude, but the sound has plenty of depth (check out the scene where Andre crashes Octave's car). The dialog has also been stabilized, and various clicks and pops removed. Background hiss is also not an issue of concern. There are no sync issues or distortions to report in this review either. The English translation is excellent.
The Rules of the Game Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Rules of the Game Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Considered by many to be the greatest film ever made, Jean Renoir's The Rules of the Game is an impressive critique of French bourgeois society in the years before WW2. Banned, cut and consequently reconstructed, the film's 1959 version is now presented on Blu-ray by Criterion. The disc also contains an enormous amount of very informative supplemental features. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
The Rules of the Game Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Criterion's November Blu-ray Line-Up: Renoir, Anderson, KieÅ›lows... - August 15, 2011
Criterion has revealed their November slate of releases, which confirms the Blu-ray debuts of Jean Renoir's The Rules of the Game, Wes Anderson's Rushmore and Krzysztof Kieślowski's Three Colors trilogy. Also announced were Sidney Lumet's 12 Angry Men and ...
• Criterion Teases The Rules of the Game Blu-ray - August 11, 2011
In a recent newsletter, the Criterion Collection revealed that it will be bringing Jean Renoir's 1939 masterpiece The Rules of the Game to Blu-ray. While the exact release date and disc specifications are still unknown, Criterion has confirmed the film as part ...
The Rules of the Game Blu-ray Screenshots
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