Everybody has their reasons

Parasites: Jean Renoir as Octave and Julien Carette as Marceau in The Rules of the Game.

Jean Renoir’s 1939 satire of Europe on the eve of the Second World War, The Rules of the Game, should be on most people’s lists of the best movies ever made. A rare chance to see it in its full 35mm big-screen glory comes to Metrograph on the Lower East Side this weekend. The showing at 7.00pm on Saturday night features a discussion with cineaste Peter Bogdanovich and Renoir biographer Pascal Merigeau; this showing is sold out, but two others follow on Sunday.

Renoir’s conception of society as a farcical merry-go-round of casual violence coated with a very thin but necessary veneer of manners and morals speaks to America in the 2010s as much as it did to Paris in the late 1930s. (If it speaks to us at all, that is; it was banned by the French government in 1939 as being “depressing, morbid, immoral [and] having an undesirable influence over the young.”) The Prophets Without Honor Department also reports that the film was only available in a cruelly truncated version until the late 1950s, when The Rules of the Game was finally restored to a version close to Renoir’s original intent.

Is it still depressing, morbid, and immoral? Will it still have an undesirable influence over the young? Find out this weekend. Tickets and more information about the Metrograph screenings are here.

2 thoughts on “Everybody has their reasons”

  1. Thanks for this, George. I’ve been in a tizzy lately—thanks mainly to a new and demanding job—and haven’t been able to keep track of some things I might previously have learned of. I doubt I’ll get to one of the screenings this weekend, but your brief remarks on the film are valuable as a reminder. In lieu of a contemporary American film of comparable scale (which sadly seems almost inconceivable), Renoir’s Rules of the Game can speak to us rather bitingly today.

  2. True enough. I hope you can get there, especially if you haven’t been to Metrograph before. It’s a real treat.

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