24 December 2020

Jean Renoir's La Règle du jeu | The Rules of the Game (1939)


Martin O'Shaughnessy, in his Jean Renoir (2000), which is part of Manchester University Press's excellent 'French Film Directors' series, includes this film in his 'The Popular Front Years' chapter, a film made just before Renoir retreated to the States, and which O'Shaughnessy sees as a considerable contrast to the 'dark intensity of La Bête humaine', the film which preceded it. O'Shaughnessy argues that Renoir now had the freedom to delve into other areas, his main influences in this film being Marivaux, Beaumarchais and Musset: the theatrical take is self-evident.

This is not a space to talk about a well-known film, although suffice to mention that the film centres on changing love interests, mistaken identity, concealed misdemeanurs (or crimes), conflicting differences (and interests) between classes, etc.

There is a constant reminder of war and the senseless play and the horror of it: the cull of game, the pantomime of the men playing Jews, and perhaps most of all the skeletons that walk among the audience: almost a prediction.

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