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 charismatic thief makes friends with a bankrupt baron who comes to live in the thief's slum. Meanwhile the thief seeks the love of a young woman, who is held emotionally captive by her slumlord family.
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
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.
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