Tuesday, November 20, 2007

La Regle Du Jeu / The Rules of the Game (1939)

Film Review. The Rules of the Game (1939)
Director: Jean Renoir
Languange: French
Significance (i.e why i had bothered to went extra mile to obtain the film): Listed as #2 top 1000 film of all time according to They Shoot Pictures Don't They?.

The year was 1939, the place was Paris and a country estate outside of Paris, the surrounding was the wealthy high-society of Paris. The haves and the famous. In short, The Rules of the Game depicted the life of these higher-society, they partying, went out hunting, over-dressed, scurrying over pretentious collectibles, and more partying. The overall pretentation and mood of this 100 minutes film is rather comical and farce. However, the final five minutes was a sharp turn that i hadn't even prepared for its shift given the mood of most of the film.

A little history, this film was initially banned in French on its premieres, Jean Renoir himself had recounted the event that he had seen one of the audience at the premiere lit a newspaper and had intended to burn the theater down. The prints of the film were later destroyed by the French government and later by the Nazi regime. And not until twenty years later, when Jean Renoir search the available copies of the film still available had the film - in one of the most renowned film restoration in cinema history - re-surfaced. The restored film was 111 minutes, and only a little insignificant portion hadn't made into the re-cut.

The film begin with the aviator Andre Jurieux who just land after 23 hours solo flying across Atlantic. However, amidst the popularity and bravado of his journey, he felt hollow because when he landed, his love, the one that prompt him to undergone the peril hadn't even bothered to show. His love was Christine, an Austrian heritage that was married with Robert. Her husband, her maid, and her friends all known about her relationship with Andre. Robert himself had a mistress, Guinevere. Even Christine's maid had a lover beside a husband who acts as a gamekeeper at Robert's estate where most of the film took place. For an unknown reasons, Robert invites his friends and neighbors (including Andre though he knew very well about Christine and Andre, and Guinevere) to his estate, partying, and hunting (in one of the most renowned hunting scene ever recorded on cinema. Believe me, it's haunting, and not because it's dark, or full of ghosts, spooky things, no, the hunting scene had occured at day, and no spirit beings were involved. But the final image of the rabbit, was soo haunting that it was often re-enacted later by many great directors - Robert Altman, for instance).

I was chuckled heartily and often when these nobles, scurrying at other's bedroom, flirting to one another, and shared things they shouldn't. Oh, don't fret. No sex scenes, one or two kisses (one or two, i'm not kiddig), no nudity, even no dirty talks, or meaningful inviting glances. But, the very great thing of this film and of Jean Renoir, that the message was delivered, loud and clear even without those straight-forward explicit scenes. Or maybe these nobles were obeying the Rules of the Game. For instance, you could have a lover, but it doesn't necessarily made you unfaithful to your spouse, et cetera. Now i know, why does those Parisians angry when the film was aired for the first time. Mockery is the very last thing that people needed on a country that was threatened by war. And the film did just so.

And after the infamous hunting scene, came the climax, where literally all hell broke loose. I'm an amateur film viewer, two or three galaxies away from an auteurism, but i love to read, and from what i've read, and i've seen for myself in the film for confirmation, that given the equipment and the quality of production at the time, the final scenes where the camera moved around relentlessly, unfolding and refolding several scenes at once, where the actors, extras, nobles, servants, scurrying about with purposes, partying, chasing one another through corridors, all without seemingly loosing a heart-beat, it was simply a work of a genius.

And finally, the final four minutes, where the film took a sharp turn, and we finally see what are "the Rules of the Game" truly means, and finally, wondering why those who obeys the "Rules" suffers the most.

This film had been taught in film classes everywhere, and it's really worth my money on being #2 in the top 1000 film of all time.

See also:
- Roger Ebert's take on the Rules of the Game (spoilers alert, though very insightful).

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1 comment:

Mikael Dewabrata said...

kamu donlot apa beli dvd-nya? tonton fiturnya deh!