La Règle du Jeu (1939) Jean Renoir

Friday, March 19, 2010

A black and white film of 106 minutes, by a French director Jean Renoir, is the first film of this year that I have watched from my list of 100 films to watch. Which I hope to finish this year, but the list never seems to diminish.

Before watching the film there was a short intro by Jean Renoir himself, talking a little bit about the film. Apparently when it was first screened in France, in 1939, the audience reacted so badly on it, that he even witnessed a man setting light to a newspaper to deliberately torch the theatre with fire. It was booed so much that he tried to cut the movie back to about 86 minutes, but this did not help much in his popularity.

Soon after, the second World War broke, and then the film had to be restored from damage, to the 106 minute black and white film that I have seen today, and which is now considered one of the great films of all time.

So what is the film about?

It's a social satire about the rich and the working class of the French at the time, set in a chateau in the country where they have gathered to have some good time, hunt rabbits, put up a show for each other. Amongst the present is the host aristocrat Robert de la Chaysnaye, and his wife, Christine, his lover, her lover, her maid and her husband, and a new servant who could have become a lover...

It's essentially about love and how different people express it with their own reasons behind it, because they are all playing the rules of the game where society only allows them to act the way they do. It is all very complicated and confusing, and also weird, how the rich do not know that pre-Colomban arts is about Indians and not the Blacks, how Christine can say I love you to the pilot in one scene and then no, actually, it's you that I love to another soon after, and the two men both love her too, so they just accept it. Christine and her husband's lover talk about their shared dislike of Robert smoking in bed, and Linette the maid does not want to be with her husband but more with Christine, and plays with another manservant under the nose of her poor temperamental husband who really loves her, who tries to shoot the other guy, and everyone else just lets him, because they think it's all fun and games. But everyone loves Christine, who is so naive, and in the end the pilot does end up dying, shot by Linette's husband, who mistook him for someone else.

...It's a weird film, I wish I understood it more.

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