- 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, Color, DVD-Video, Special Edition, Subtitled, NTSC
- Language: French
- Subtitles: English
- Region: Region 1 (US and Canada This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Number of discs: 2
- MPAA Rating:
- Studio: Paramount Home Video
- Release Date: Jan. 20 2004
- Run Time: 110 minutes
- Average Customer Review: 24 customer reviews
- ASIN: B00005JLV6
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #50,777 in Movies & TV Shows (See Top 100 in Movies & TV Shows)
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The Rules of the Game (Criterion Collection) (Version française)
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Jean Renoir's 1939 classic is widely regarded as one of the greatest films ever made, and Criterion is very proud to present the film in a special two-disc edition. Cloaked in a comedy of manners, this scathing critique of corrupt French society is about a weekend hunting party at which amorous escapades abound among the aristocratic guests - which are also mirrored by the activities of the servants downstairs. The refusal of one of the guests to play by society's rules sets off a chain of events that ends in tragedy.
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES:
- Newly-restored, high-definition transfer of the 110-minute version of the film
- Introduction by Renoir
- Audio commentary written by film scholar Alexander Sesonske and read by filmmaker Peter Bogdanovich
- Selected scene audio commentary by Renoir historian Christopher Faulkner
- French television program about the film featuring interviews with the director and actors
- New video essay about the film's production, release and later reconstruction
- Written tributes to the film and Renoir by filmmakers Francois Truffaut, Paul Schrader, Bertrand Tavernier, Wim Wenders and more
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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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The Criterion DVD is an all-region two-disc set with a newly restored video transfer and plenty of rewarding extra material. This eagerly-awaited disc was originally to be released last Fall, when Criterion had already finished a video transfer that would have looked better than any existing copy of the film. But at the last minute, Criterion received word that an earlier-generation fine-grain master of the film had been located in France, and that additional improvement, though not dramatic, could be made to the picture quality. Being the perfectionist that it often is, Criterion decided to redo the video transfer based on the fine-grain master, thus delaying the DVD's release by several months. According to the New York Times article "Hunting 'The Rules of the Game'" on Jan-18-04, the redone transfer justified the additional time and cost by yielding more details in dark areas and richer shades of grey on the picture, resulting in a less harsh look and perhaps subliminally making the characters in the film seem more sympathetic.
The DVD's video quality is indeed the best I've ever seen. Its sharpness and clarity of details are a revelation to those who have seen, for instance, Criterion's laserdisc version years ago. A digital cleanup process has been used to eliminate much (but not all) of the dirt and blemishes. The original French audio track has also been improved, and it now sounds cleaner, with almost no hiss and pops, and more detailed. In a film that relies on its numerous visual and audio details to be effective, the technical improvements made for this DVD are absolutely worthwhile and welcomed.
Accompanying the film is a superb analytical audio commentary written by film historian and Renoir's friend Alexander Sesonske, and read fluidly by Peter Bogdanovich. Recorded in 1989 for the Criterion laserdisc, this commentary analyzes the intricate relationships of the characters, how their actions often counterpoint one another's, and what Renoir intends to accomplish with them. It points out that the story creates two groups of quintets, each comprising of a husband, wife, lover, mistress, and interceding friend, and that the actions in one group are often the opposites of the other. The commentary also mentions the political climate in which Renoir made the film, as well as the classical works (such as The Marriage of Figaro) that inspired Renoir.
A 30-minute excerpt of the 1967 TV documentary "Jean Renoir, le patron", originally included in the laserdisc version, is also included in this DVD. It is essentially an interview of Renoir, who talks about his shooting style, and the themes and characters of the film. There is also a rather poignant moment of Renoir reuniting with actor Marcel Dalio at the steps of the "La Colinière," where they reminisce about their experience.
The DVD includes a great one-hour documentary on Renoir and RULES OF THE GAME, made by BBC in 1993. It recalls Renoir's childhood, upbringing, how his love of the movies developed, and his film career up to and including RULES OF THE GAME. It shows fascinating clips of his early films such as LA FILLE DE L'EAU, CHARLESTON, NANA, LA CHIENNE, BONDU SAVED FROM DROWNING, and others. It also includes comments from his family members, friends, collaborators, and other filmmakers such as Bertrand Tavernier, Bernardo Bertolucci, and Peter Bogdanovich.
Perhaps the best supplement in the whole DVD set is a "Version Comparison" that provides side-by-side comparison of the final scenes in two versions of the film: the shorter 81-minute cut which Renoir reluctantly made in response to criticisms, and the longer 106-minute version that was reconstructed in 1959 (the version used for this DVD's presentation). Film historian Christopher Faulkner's commentary provides further elucidation on the differences between the two. Thus, we can plainly see for ourselves that the shorter version drastically eliminates many of the subtleties and alters the meaning of the film's final moments completely.
Also valuable is a 10-minute interview footage of the two people who reconstructed the 1959 version, Jean Gaborit and Jacques Durand. They recall their multi-year efforts in finding film elements from all over the world, and eventually discovering several minutes of footage that was not in Renoir's original version (one of such footage is the long conversation between Octave and André at the knoll in the countryside).
Other extras include an 8-minute "video essay" (a featurette) on the film's production history, 3 interview segments, and several written tributes by today's filmmakers, which include a few pretty thoughtful mini-essays on the film as well as succinct comments such as that from Robert Altman: "THE RULES OF THE GAME taught me the rules of the game."
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