During the First World War, two French soldiers are captured and imprisoned in a German P.O.W. camp. Several escape attempts follow until they are sent to a seemingly impenetrable fortress which seems impossible to escape from.
A small-time thief steals a car and impulsively murders a motorcycle policeman. Wanted by the authorities, he reunites with a hip American journalism student and attempts to persuade her to run away with him to Italy.
Aviator André Jurieux has just completed a record-setting flight, but when he is greeted by an admiring crowd, all he can say to them is how miserable he is that the woman he loves did not come to meet him. He is in love with Christine, the wife of aristocrat Robert de la Cheyniest. Robert himself is involved in an affair with Geneviève de Marras, but he is trying to break it off. Meanwhile, André seeks help from his old friend Octave, who gets André an invitation to the country home where Robert and Christine are hosting a large hunting party. As the guests arrive for the party, their cordial greetings hide their real feelings, along with their secrets - and even some of the servants are involved in tangled relationships. Written by
The fact the movie was a complete failure when it came out in 1939 is partly a myth: it was a relative failure. Renoir himself thought it was a complete flop, but he was impressed by a few hostile reactions (which included fights and allegedly a man trying to set fire to a theatre). Attendance was low, but it was summer, there were political tensions with Germany and probably the public was put off by the turmoil around the movie. Critics were balanced: a study showed about a third were positive, a third negative and a third reserved. The movie was banned when WWII started and then again during German occupation, but so were other movies, e.g. the famous "Le Quai des brumes" (1938) and "Le Jour se lève" (1939), both by Carné. See more »
(around 24 min) When Schumacher and the under-gamekeepers find the cat in the rabbit trap, they complain about it. They release it and the cat runs away to their right. Schumacher immediately turns about 75 degrees to his left and shoots into the far distance (his gun is level). From the characters' dialogue, he obviously "killed it" (!). See more »
I'm sure that pretty much anyone who decides to watch this film will be aware of it's status among many critics as one of the greatest films ever made. It may not be exactly that, but it is still a very good movie.
The basic story involves a group of wealthy French aristocrats getting together for a weekend's hunting party at a country chateau just before the start of World War 2. However it's not long before the guests, their hosts and the servants are involved in some complex romantic problems.
The film is beautifully made. Every shot is perfectly well composed and filmed. The film's director, Jean Renoir, was the son of the famous Impressionist painter Auguste Renoir, and Jean Renoir certainly had a good painter's eye himself.
The film depicts a world of casual cruelty and betrayal hidden behind it's polite and civilised facade. Everyone has to play by the iron-bound social rules ("the rules of the game") and those who don't, suffer for it.
Cynical, but often very amusing, this film provoked riots when it premiered in France in a severely shortened form. It exists in various different lengths. The version I saw was a restored 110 minute version on DVD.
This is a film that will not be to all tastes, but it is required viewing for all fans of French cinema or for anyone interested in the history of world cinema.
27 of 34 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?