Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Links: Rules of the Game

The Rules of the Game, now widely considered one of the greatest films of all-time, did not fare so well on its initial release:

"The film’s initial screenings in Paris in July 1939 are now part of film legend: badly received by both critics and the public, the premiere even saw chairs thrown at the screen and an attempt to set the cinema on fire. Shocked, Renoir cut the film from around 94 to 81 minutes, only to see the film banned by the government censors in October (the ban was rescinded some months later but then reimposed by the Germans during the Occupation). Finally, the negatives were destroyed in a bombing raid in 1942."

The above is from thefilmjounal, where Ian Johnston reviews the film and Criterion's DVD release, which is the version we're showing this week.

Also from Criterion is this essay by Alexander Sesonske, who notes that it is indeed:

"a dazzling accomplishment, original in form and style, a comic tragedy, absurd and profound, graced by two of the most brilliant scenes ever created. It is also, in the words of Dudley Andrew, “the most complex social criticism ever enacted on the screen.” A total box office failure in 1939, The Rules of the Game now ranks as one of the greatest masterpieces of world cinema."

See, I wasn't exaggerating.

OK fine if you don't believe me, or Sesonske, who I've never heard of either.  But would you believe Bernardo Bertolucci, world famous director of The Conformist, The Last Emperor and Little Buddha?  Here he is in The Guardian's The Films that Changed My Life series:

"Renoir is like a junction between the France of impressionism (the France of his father, Auguste Renoir) and the France of the 20th century. Sometimes it's as if he were making films about characters from his father's paintings. But what is really extraordinary about Renoir, particularly in La R├Ęgle, is that he loves all his characters. He loves the goodies and baddies, the ones who make terrible mistakes. He loves the ones who are on screen for just two minutes. This is something I have always tried to do."

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