THE RULES OF THE GAME
MUST END THURSDAY, JANUARY 5
Directed by Jean Renoir
Starring Nora Gregor, Paulette Dubost, Mila Parély, Marcel Dalio, Julien Carette, Roland Toutain, Gaston Modot, Pierre Magnier, Jean Renoir
In French with English subtitles.
Approx. 106 min. 4K Restoration.
A shooting party at the country château of Parisian aristocrat Marquis Marcel Dalio goes from targeting rabbits to people, moving from sophisticated byplay to slapstick farce to tragedy, amid pioneering deep focus photography that keeps multiple intrigues running simultaneously, romantic escapades above and below the stairs, and the bumbling Octave (played by Renoir himself) providing playful and ironic commentary. THE RULES OF THE GAME is both a light, even frivolous, comedy of manners and a biting, satirical look at a corrupt society under the shadow of war.
The last film Renoir made in France before fleeing the Nazi invasion for the United States and Hollywood, the exhibition history of THE RULES OF THE GAME is a drama in itself: trimmed from Renoir’s ideal cut to 94 minutes, it was shortened another 13 minutes after a disastrous premiere (one enraged patron reportedly tried to torch the theater). Two months later, it was banned as “demoralizing,” and later, its negative was destroyed by Allied bombs. Then, in 1959, over 200 boxes of forgotten RULES materials were unearthed, resulting in a reconstructed version by Renoir himself that played to worldwide acclaim, hailed internationally as a lost masterpiece.
A JANUS FILM RELEASE.
With support from the George Fasel Memorial Fund for Classic French Cinema.
“As fresh, funny, and poignant as it ever was, and even more mysterious. How did Renoir do it?”
– J. Hoberman
“THE FILM OF FILMS.”
– François Truffaut
“Every viewing is repaid with new strands of the story, new turns of the dialogue, new corridors of meaning — as if they had not been there all along, but had grown in the interval between the last time you saw it and this time.”
– Lucy Sante
“THE RULES OF THE GAME taught me the rules of the game.”
– Robert Altman
“This magical and elusive work, which always seems to place second behind CITIZEN KANE in polls of great films, is so simple and so labyrinthine, so guileless and so angry, so innocent and so dangerous, that you can't simply watch it, you have to absorb it.”
– Roger Ebert
“The word “Mozartean,” denoting an uncanny combination of elegance and strength, pathos and wit, artifice and candor, gets thrown around a little too eagerly by critics, but one movie, as almost everyone agrees, deserves this supreme benediction—Jean Renoir’s THE RULES OF THE GAME, from 1939, a farce about aristocrats and servants at play and in love. Renoir pulled off complex and physically exuberant sequences in which groups of characters get molded into twisted-figure-eight compositions that stay in balance for an instant and then dissolve, often to reassemble within the same shot.”
– David Denby, The New Yorker