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The Rules of the Game (The Criterion Collection)

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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: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (100 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005JLV6
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #99,382 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Rules of the Game (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

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

Editorial Reviews

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

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.

Customer Reviews

Other characters also entertain desires that come into conflict with the social order.
The Sentinel
The Criterion DVD is an all-region two-disc set with a newly restored video transfer and plenty of rewarding extra material.
I loved this film when I knew little about Renoir, French manners, European history and filmmaking.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

190 of 198 people found the following review helpful By keviny01 on January 24, 2004
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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65 of 71 people found the following review helpful By The Sentinel on October 20, 2000
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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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Scott T. Rivers VINE VOICE on January 20, 2005
Format: DVD
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.
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful By JR Pinto on March 7, 2004
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
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.
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