It amazes me that a film can be considered so offensive that an audience member lit a newspaper on fire to burn the theater down rather that watch the rest of the movie, and at the same time, regarded as one of the best films ever made. When I watched it I didn’t find it offensive in the least, but one of the peeps I watched it with happened to be of French decent and was mortified. The film is over 80 years old and still evokes an immediate and potent response from the audience. From Wikipedia:
The Rules of the Game (original French title: La Règle du jeu) is a 1939 French film directed by Jean Renoir about upper-class French society just before the start of World War II. He originally adapted the story from Alfred de Musset’s Les Caprices de Marianne, a popular 19th-century comedy of manners: “My first intention was to film a transposition of Caprices de Marianne to our time. It is the story of a tragic mistake: the lover of Marianne is taken for someone else and is bumped off in an ambush”. He was also inspired by Jeu de l’amour et du hasard of Marivaux, by Molière, and took some details from Beaumarchais: the quotation at the beginning of the film comes from Le Mariage de Figaro.
The Rules of the Game is often cited as one of the greatest films in the history of cinema. The decennial poll of international critics by the Sight & Sound magazine ranked it #10 in 1952, moved it up to #3 in 1962, and #2 in 1972, 1982, and 1992; in 2002 it fell back to #3, behind Citizen Kane (1941) and Vertigo (1958).
Below is Renoir’s thoughts on the film, as well as the trailer for the newly restored edition. Love it or hate it, it’s definitely worth watching.