Singer, Irving. "Jean Renoir." Three Philosophical Filmmakers: Hitchcock, Welles, Renoir. Palatino: MIT Press, 2004: 146-219.
Irving Singer holds the belief that each of Renoir's films led him on a path to discovery of both the culture around him and himself. He believes that Renoir's character of Octave in Rules of the Game is actually a self-representation: that Renoir desired to play himself, someone that "lost contact with the public" (149). Octave is also shown as slightly inept and mismanaged, revealing Renoir's attempt to level and connect with the public. Singer includes a comment made by Renoir stating that he's only ever "shot one film," maintaining the belief that Renoir strived to provide an accurate representation of French society, even when this meant he must display his views in contrast with those of the general public (147). Singer remarks, however, that Renoir so wished to connect with his audience, with his society, that he became almost desperate to achieve contact and that this desperation led to Renoir's near destruction of Rules of the Game when he continually cut out pieces of the film that may have offended audiences. Singer believes that, in the years leading up to WWII, Renoir's main goal in his filmmaking was to explore how people relate to each other, to nature, and to technology. Singer also expresses the belief that Renoir drew alot from Hinduism, explaining the filmmaker's desire to contrast the differences between his character's spiritual and material lives, a central theme in Rules of the Game.
Singer's chapter on Renoir provides a very interesting take on the filmmaker and his works. It is clear, especially after reading this work, that Jean Renoir was on a quest for truth, using film as a tool to capture society in its most realistic form. Rules of the Game was greatly influenced by the fact that Renoir wished to accurately depict French society though he, of course, was somewhat blinded by his own middle-class beliefs and tendencies. For instance, Renoir criticizes the bourgeios and the servants equally, as he, himself, stood in the middle ground, exempt from criticism. Renoir, however, is nowhere near self-praising; instead, the film functions somewhat as an autobiography with Renoir playing the role of Octave, his on-screen representation. Both lament that they have lost contact with the public. This comment is shown to be almost comically, though paradoxically, true: Renoir had never expected such a negative response from his audience. Up until this point, Renoir's works were, for the most part, celebrated by French society. The point at which he became public about his concerns of losing emotional and intellectual touch with the people, his work invokes a disastrous result and Renoir physically disconnects from his people by fleeing the country. This work also provides a very interesting look at another of Renoir's influences: religion, describing how the beliefs of Hinduism propelled him on his quest for turth amidst spiritual and material confusion.
Brooks, Charles William. "Jean Renoir's the Rules of the Game." French Historical Studies 7.2 (1971): 264-83.
In this entry of French Historical Studies, Charles Brooks examines the effect of popular culture and prominent political and economic events in the shaping of cinema, particularly French Realist Cinema. Brooks names Jean Renoir the greatest director of the prewar period and the driving force for the 'Renaissance of French Cinema'. Brooks focuses primarily on Renoir's ability to accurately display (and question) the class differences within French society. Rules of the Game is a pivotal film because it captures French society at a haunting period of history; it "dissects the spirit of a people already defeated internally and merely awaiting the end at the hand of an external executioner" (267). Brooks also compares Rules of the Game to Boudu Saved from Drowning and analyzes the similarities between bourgeois and servant relations. He argues that both films reveal the middle-class tendencies deep-rooted in Renoir that place him in a prime position for objective class analysis. It also helps explain the sense of balance that Renoir finds necessary to strike both in his works and his real life.
This article is extremely helpful in understanding all of the factors that influenced Jean Renoir in his creation of Rules of the Game. It first describes where French Realist Cinema was, at a movement, when Jean Renoir began producing films. We are provided with plenty of background information on the movement that would have influenced Renoir, stylistically. We are also given information on the tumultuous political strife leading up to the creation of Rules of the Game. Renoir's choice to center his film on a critique of French social life makes sense with this knowledge. Background on Renoir's personal life helps to better understand the position he took in political situations. This article also provides a comparison to another Renoir film, highlighting his affinity for representing class distinctions.