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The Rules of the Game (The Criterion Collection)

4.5 out of 5 stars 111 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Jean Renoir's 1939 classic is widely regarded as one of the greatest films ever made, and Criterion is very proud to present the film in a special two-disc edition. Cloaked in a comedy of manners, this scathing critique of corrupt French society is about a weekend hunting party at which amorous escapades abound among the aristocratic guests-which are also mirrored by the activities of the servants downstairs. The refusal of one of the guests to play by society's rules sets off a chain of events that ends in tragedy.

Additional Features

The Criterion Collection exceeds even its own high standards with a wealth of bonus features for Jean Renoir's masterpiece, The Rules of the Game. On its own, disc 1 would be enough to satisfy film scholars and cinephiles, with an archival introduction to the film by Renoir himself (he was clearly pleased by the film's eventual acceptance and recognition), and for the feature-length audio commentary, director Peter Bogdanovich does an admirably lucid job of reading from Alexander Sesonske's hard-to-find book Jean Renoir: The French Films, 1924-1939, a model of scholarly clarity and astute observation that is also excerpted in the accompanying 24-page booklet. A comparison of the different endings of the film--the earlier truncated version and 1959 restoration--reveals how a harsher indictment of the haute bourgeoisie ran counter to the more balanced and compelling perspective that Renoir had intended, and this is further supported by an illustrated study of Renoir's own copy shooting script, complete with deletions, margin notes, and revised dialogue.

Disc 2 is a feast in itself, the main courses being two essential documentaries exploring the many facets of The Rules of the Game. Directed by New Wave filmmaker Jacques Rivette, the 1967 French TV production--part of a series called "Filmmakers of Our Time"--is a typically thorough example of New Wave cinephilia, with Renoir answering serious questions about Rules in his own jovial, accommodating fashion. Directed by David Thompson (not to be confused with noted critic David Thomson), part 1 of the two-part 1993 BBC documentary Jean Renoir focuses more on Renoir's personal and professional history, and features abundant interviews with Renoir's surviving contemporaries. The disc is rounded out by a video essay on the film's troubled history and eventual rescue and rise to greatness; an archival interview with the two French cinephiles who diligently restored Rules (with Renoir's approval) to its present-day 106-minute length; a 1995 interview with French actress Mila Parély (who played Genevieve); and new 2003 interviews with Rules set designer Max Douy and, most enjoyably, Renoir's son Alain, who worked as assistant camera operator and now teaches Comparative Literature in America. Written tributes by noted filmmakers and critics (including Paul Schrader, Wim Wenders, and Cameron Crowe) close the disc in high class, ensuring that The Rules of the Game will enjoy even greater appreciation with the release of this essential two-disc set. --Jeff Shannon

Special Features

  • Disc 1:
  • New transfer with restored image and sound and new subtitles
  • Introduction to the film by Jean Renoir
  • Audio commentary written by film scholar Alexander Sesonske and read by filmmaker Peter Bogdanovich
  • Version comparison: side-by-side analysis of the two endings, along with an illustrated study of the shooting script
  • Selected scene audio commentary by Renoir historian Christopher Faulkner
  • Disc 2:
  • Excerpts from Jean Renoir le Patron: La Regle et l'Exception (1966), a French television program
  • Part one of Jean Renoir, a two-part BBC documentary by David Thompson
  • A new video essay about the film's production, release, and later reconstruction
  • Jean Gaborit and Jacques Durand discuss their reconstruction and re-release of the film (1965)
  • New interview with Renoir's son, Alain, an assistant cameraman on the film
  • New interview with set designer Max Douy
  • 1995 interview with actress Mila Parely
  • Written tributes to the film and Renoir by Francois Truffaut, Paul Schrader, Bertrand Tavernier, Wim Wenders, and others
  • Plus a 24-page booklet with writings and essays

Product Details

  • Actors: Julien Carette, Tony Corteggiani, Marcel Dalio, Eddy Debray, Paulette Dubost
  • Directors: Jean Renoir
  • Format: Black & White, Color, Special Edition, Subtitled, NTSC
  • Language: French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Criterion
  • DVD Release Date: January 20, 2004
  • Run Time: 110 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (111 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005JLV6
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #73,366 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Rules of the Game (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
*** NOV-22-2011: ADDED REVIEW OF 2011 BLU-RAY & DVD ***

Criterion now has released 3 editions of this French classic: 2004 DVD edition (blue cover with photos) that has been put out of print, 2011 DVD edition (bright cover with vintage drawing) that has identical content save for a revised supplement, and a corresponding 2011 Blu-ray edition that is a high-def version of the 2011 DVD.

The 2011 Blu-ray and DVD appear to have used the same source that yielded the 2004 DVD. As those who have seen the 2004 DVD know, the original source is not in the best of shape, even though it is the best material Criterion was able to get. Google "nytimes hunting rules of the game" to see the report on Criterion's effort in tracking down the best material of the film. So does this Blu-ray look as good as the "Casablanca" blu-ray, the "Gone of the Wind" blu-ray, the "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World" blu-ray? No, it doesn't. But as usual, Criterion maintains the integrity of the picture by retaining a lot of film grains on the transfer. Other studios may use digital noise reduction (DNR) to remove those film grains to not annoy modern viewers. But Criterion consistently retains film grains on its Blu-rays, thereby retaining a lot of picture details which may have been lost otherwise had DNR been used. Those who have seen a classic film in theaters would know that film grains are inherent to the pictures from those periods. These Criterion Blu-rays therefore give you as close to a theatrical experience as you can get.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
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.
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Format: VHS Tape
Jean Renoir's THE RULES OF THE GAME takes place on the eve of World War II at an aristocratic house party in an opulent chateau just outside of Paris where the overlapping `affaires d'amour' of all social classes are observed with a keen and compassionate eye. Renoir looks to the eighteenth-century world of Commedia dell'Arte and Mozartian opera, and seamlessly integrates farce with tragedy, using a classical form to offer his audience a profound and multifaceted parable on the disturbing realities that underlie the veneer of contemporary French society.
It is the middle-class aviator, André Jurieu (Roland Toutain), who embodies the film's central conflict between the private passions and a sense of obligation to a larger social body. Right at the outset of the film, he violates the unwritten "rules" of social propriety by declaring to a radio reporter his disappointment that the woman he had been courting, Christine de la Chesnaye (Nora Grégor), is not present at his reception after completing a record-breaking flight across the Atlantic. His skill with the advanced technology of aircraft is not matched by an ability to deal with people, particularly in matters of love. Indeed, André's careless and unmediated show of desire for a highborn lady not only transgresses the received law of proper social conduct but of traditional class distinctions as well.
Other characters also entertain desires that come into conflict with the social order.
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