Rules of the Game

Directed by Jean Renoir, 1939

Written by Henry Cartier, Camille François, and Jean Renoir


Consider the techniques Renoir uses for this film, particularly his use of sequence shots: the shooting of an entire scene in just one or a few long takes, thanks to the use of long shots with great depth of field and an agile, frequently moving camera. What are the effects of shooting the film in this manner?

In particular, how is space depicted in this film? (Note that by "space", I mean both physical space and social space). How are the characters interrelated? (The film is noteworthy for its skillful use of a large ensemble cast). To what extent does this method of shooting the film suggest a kind of realism, and to what extent does it suggest (to the contrary) a self-conscious theatricality (which may exist on the part of the characters themselves, as well as on the part of the filmmaker)?

The film was shot in 1939, at the end of a decade of social dislocation and chaos, and just before the start of the Second World War. What does the film suggest about the social status of Europe? what about class and gender? and what about personal desires and intimate relations, in juxtaposition with the demands of social propriety?

What do you make of the hunting scene? What does it tell us about the characters and their milieu? How is it shot and edited, in comparison to the indoor sequences that dominate the rest of the film?

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