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The Rules of the Game [VHS]

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Product Details

  • Actors: Marcel Dalio, Nora Gregor, Paulette Dubost, Mila Parély, Odette Talazac
  • Directors: Jean Renoir
  • Writers: Jean Renoir, Carl Koch
  • Producers: Jean Renoir
  • Format: Black & White, NTSC
  • Subtitles: English
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Number of tapes: 1
  • Studio: Homevision
  • VHS Release Date: June 13, 2000
  • Run Time: 110 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (100 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6302969301
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #401,993 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews

Consistently cited by critics worldwide as one of the greatest films ever made, Jean Renoir's bittersweet drama of life, love, class, and the social code of manners and behavior ("the rules of the game") is a savage critique undertaken with sensitivity and compassion. Renoir's catch-phrase through the film, "Everyone has their reasons," develops a multilayered meaning by the conclusion. A young aviator (Roland Toutain) commits a serious social faux pas by alluding to an affair on national radio. To avert a scandal, the cultured Robert de la Chesnaye (Marcel Dalio), husband to the aviator's mistress, Christine (Nora Gregor), and a philanderer in his own right, invites all to a weekend hunting party in his country mansion. The complicated maze of marriages and mistresses (social register and servant class alike) is plotted like a bedroom farce, but the tone soon takes a darker cast. Renoir, who also takes the pivotal role as Andre's jovial pal and de la Chesnaye confidant Octave, deftly blends high comedy with cutting satire as he parallels the upstairs-downstairs affairs. The film builds to a comic pitch with the hilarious performance of Julien Carette as a rabbit poacher turned groundskeeper, but soon turns tragic in a devastating conclusion. The film was roundly condemned and banned in France upon its 1939 release, but years later (out of the shadow of WWII) the film was rediscovered for the masterpiece that it is. --Sean Axmaker

Product Description

Infused with Jean Renoir's love for the outrageous, this remarkable film satirizes the erotic charades of the French leisure class as it teeters helplessly on the brink of World War II. Forsaking the humanism of his earlier films, Renoir mordantly satirizes the social and sexual mores of a decadent society near collapse. Forced off the screen by angry Parisians and later banned by the Nazis, Rules of the Game stands as one of Renoir's greatest artistic achievements.

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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