Rules of the Game

Josh Weckesser
Monday, March 06, 2000
Intro to Film
Response The Rules of the Game
Renoir’s Rules of the Game is a twist and turn though the affairs of the French
upper-class during the late thirties. The plot is complex and simple at the same time. All
though out there is question as to how each of the characters relate to each other, yet at
the core of every conflict is the universal emotion of love.
This movie had been built up and built up in our minds as Renoir’s greatest film
and after watching La Grande Illusion I was expecting no less then genius. What I saw
was less then I had expected.
The central conflict was that of love, which, despite being easily understood, can
be treated wrongly and turn off an audience, as in Rules of the Game. The characters
were either trite and uncaring when it came to matters of the heart or so overcome by
them that they could think of nothing else. This caused the characters to lack demotion.
Jurieu acted as a child, if not worse. Complaining about Christine ceaselessly
until he is able to talk to her. His whole life and mindset is wrapped up in her, and how
he can attain her. Yet when he finally gets her his attitude becomes much less passionate
in order for him to deliver the line, “Christine, there are rules after all.” Which was
Renoir’s point with the movie. This however took from the plot and made the social
commentary the main focus, causing the film to loose believability.
La Chesnaye, Jurieu’s foil, was equally weak as a character. La Chesnaye
engages in blatant, flagrant affairs with as many other women as he would like, knowing
that Christine is at home waiting for him. He doesn’t seem to care the least about her
until he believes that Jurieu is going to steal her from him. As if she were mealy a social
token. This being in contrast to his otherwise tender feelings on love.
The only character that was solid though was the villain Schumacher. It is
Schumacher, the remnant of a past time, that remains true to his original character.
Schumacher is La Chesnaye’s hard-nosed gamekeeper who loves his wife and his job.
He takes both of them very seriously and does not stand Marceau interfering in either.
However when Marceau inadvertently destroys all that Schumacher holds dear does
Schumacher loose his cool and chase Marceau around with a gun. It is also Schumacher
that causes the final tragedy, shooting Jurieu mistaking him for Octave.
Renoir’s use of lighting in this film was amazing. The contrast between night
and day was done at tasteful times, causing the audience to notice a shift in the mood.
During the hunting scene, when many animals were being shot, the day is bright, but
when there is a cut to an animal that stops running the screen would become a shade
darker, just barley enough to notice. Also, in the final sequences between Schumacher
and Marceau the darkness all around them foreshadows the ill that they are planning.