The Rules of the Game, directed by, written by, and also starring Jean Renoir, was originally reviled in its native France upon its original release, drawing boos from the crowd that drowned out the dialogue. It has since been widely regarded as a masterpiece; Sight and Sound’s renowned poll has included it oftentimes second only to Citizen Kane as one of the greatest films in all of cinema. So, does it live up to the hype? Maybe not the greatest film of all time as many critics have stated, but it is definitely a masterful work of art.
The film makes use of many innovations of cinematography of the time, including utilizing mirrors in shots and keeping a mobile camera. The blocking of the elements of the screen is excellently done; each part has its place, and even when the camera moves, all the elements keep their respective segments of the frame. Really, the whole film is masterfully done; I can see why several directors have said they learned the rules of filmmaking from watching this film. The film’s use of deep-focus to keep the background and foreground in equal footing is very reminiscent of Citizen Kane, which is humorous as this film precedes that one by two years.
All told, I was highly pleased with the technical aspects of this one much more than I was the story, and I was happy with the story enough as it is. This is one of those textbook films that teaches us many things about filmmaking and how to do it right. This is definitely one I’ll have to watch again sometime, to gain an even greater appreciation for it. In the meantime, I can definitely recommend this to anyone looking to expand their creative repertoire and doesn’t mind subtitles, but if you’ve been following along here you really should be used to subtitles by now.
Arbitrary Rating: 9/10