Sunday, June 22, 2008

The Rules of the Game (1939)|DIsk 1 & 2

We're dancing on a volcano.
Chris Faulkner, Professor of Film at Carelton University, Ottawa Canada, provides some of the commentation of the film extras. Including how the edited version after the disasterous first weekend release and the reformed 1959 version. Which Chris explains the editions with a split screen and comparing the two versions.
In brief, the short version leaves us with a vicious portrait of unsavory characters in a murderous world.
It reminded me of story "The Great Gatsby" with only the element of naked infidelity left out. Many films from the 20s and 30s talks about the decadence of society and Fritz Lang had much of this same theme in his films. Faulkner talks in depth about how the shorter version did not give time for Jean Renoir's self portrayal of Octave to show his humanity. The shorter version showed more of the helps characters and as such showed the callousness of the "rich and spoiled classes" even when one of their own was murdered.

Now often cited as one of the greatest films ever made, Jean Renoir's La Règle du jeu/Rules of the Game was not warmly received on its original release in 1939: audiences at its opening engagements in Paris were openly hostile, responding to the film with shouts of derision, and distributors cut the movie from 113 minutes to a mere 80. It was banned as morally perilous during the German occupation and the original negative was destroyed during WWII. It wasn't until 1956 that Renoir was able to restore the film to its original length. In retrospect, this reaction seems both puzzling and understandable; at its heart, Rules of the Game is a very moral film about frequently amoral people. A comedy of manners whose wit only occasionally betrays its more serious intentions, it contrasts the romantic entanglements of rich and poor during a weekend at a country estate. André Jurieu (Roland Toutain), a French aviation hero, has fallen in love with Christine de la Chesnaye (Nora Gregor), who is married to wealthy aristocrat Marquis Robert de la Chesnaye (Marcel Dalio). Robert, however, has a mistress of his own, whom he invites to a weekend hunting party at his country home, along with André and his friend Octave (played by Jean Renoir himself). Meanwhile, the hired help have their own game of musical beds going on: a poacher is hired to work as a servant at the estate and immediately makes plans to seduce the gamekeeper's wife, while the gamekeeper recognizes him only as the man who's been trying to steal his rabbits. Among the upper classes, infidelity is not merely accepted but expected; codes are breached not by being unfaithful, but by lacking the courtesy to lie about it in public. The weekend ends in a tragedy that suggests that this way of life may soon be coming to an end. Renoir's witty, acidic screenplay makes none of the characters heroes or villains, and his graceful handling of his cast is well served by his visual style. He tells his story with long, uninterrupted takes using deep focus (cinematographer Jean Bachelet proves a worthy collaborator here), following the action with a subtle rhythm that never calls attention to itself. The sharply-cut hunting sequence makes clear that Renoir avoided more complex editing schemes by choice, believing that long takes created a more lifelike rhythm and reduced the manipulations of over-editing. Rules of the Game uses WWI as an allegory for WWII, and its representation of a vanishing way of life soon became all too true for Renoir himself, who, within a year of the film's release, was forced to leave Europe for the United States.. ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide

Theatrical Feature Running Time: 106 mins
The Rules of the Game (1939)
The differences between this film and Renoir's other film I also watched recently is amazing in: The River. I would have never guessed the same director in both.

Commentary is by Peter Bogdanovich reading text by Alexander Sesonske. Well worth watching it also, but so filled with dialogue that it is even hard to follow all the action also.

Disk 2:
1. Interview with Jean Renoir in B/W with I presume other film critics.
In the interview, Renoir says he did not want to film one person but the group of people so no one person was the "lead" actor. Considering that he wanted to condemn this type of lifestyle much as Lang also pursued during the 1920s then yes it was probably a good idea to keep all the characters as equals in guilt and sin.

And I'm convinced that landscapes serve no useful purpose on screen.
Landscapes don't count.
The locations only provide actors with the increased ability to get into their respective characters-as I assume opposed to green screens.

10. le sacrifice: Just like in "The Great Gatsby" the innocent had to pay the price for the dying of romanticism.Someone must be killed to appease the gods.

Special Features of Disk 2:
1. Interview with Jean Renoir in B/W with I presume other film critics.
2. BBC Documentary-Part One Only!-Marguerite Houle Renoir the editor adopted Renoir's name but never married Jean also a party member. An interview with Paulette Dubost which played the part of simply "Lisette" the chamber maid. The part I most enjoyed in the film-partially due to her looks.
3. Production History
A. Video Essay-94 minutes for first production release and then cut to 81 minutes.
B. Gaborit & Durand
4. Interviews
A. Max Douy-Production Designer
Since he'd (Renoir) been involved with the Communist Party.
B. Mila Parély - played Genevieve de Marrast. She gets drunk on the set for some of the gun shooting scenes.
C. Alain Renoir-son of Jean Renoir-assistant cameraman on "The Rules of the Game". Everyone knew there was going to be a war.

Basically while there was some interesting parts of Disk 2, I think it was not worth ordering it. It should have been like on side 2 of the disk.

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