Bergstrom, Janet. "Jean Renoir's Return to France." Poetics Today 17.3, Creativity and Exile: European/American Perspectives I (1996): 453-89.
In this article, Janet Bergstrom strives to determine the reason behind Renoir's long exile from France after World War II as well as his abandonment of French realist style. After the bitter failure of Rules of the Game in 1939, Renoir fled to the United States where he would continue to make Hollywood films, deserting his country (and perhaps morals, ideals, and sense of self) for good. After WWII, Renoir became somewhat of a sellout, conforming to Hollywood styles and expectations. Renoir's dramatically different approach to filmmaking, however, hindered him from achieving real commercial success in Hollywood, almost hinting that Renoir could not escape the French Realism that he worked so hard to define. Bergstrom also describes Renoir's alliances with the Communist Party and how this may have hurt Rules of the Game's success in prewar France. She also examines the "betrayal" felt by many of Renoir's fans, that their French hero had deserted them (456); Renoir, however, considered himself a "citizen of the world" that followed his instinct wherever it took him (458). Bergstrom also examines the depression that overtook Renoir upon the failure of his most-loved film. It is impossible to ascertain the truth behind Renoir's motives through mere speculation, though the betrayal that Renoir himself would have felt by the angry French audiences after the release of Rules of the Game is surely necessary to take into account.
This article is extremely helpful in understanding the impact that Rules of the Game initially had on the French people and why Renoir was so changed by it. Bergstrom provides a great deal of personal information about the life of Jean Renoir before, during, and after the creation of Rules of the Game. Knowing where Renoir was, mentally and politically, at the release of the film greatly aides in understanding his extreme reaction. Rules of the Game was Renoir's first real chance to express himself freely, uninhibited by social restraint or fears. He felt that he was led by his instinct and was very happy with the work he had created. He took offense when the French public took so negatively to Rules of the Game; he was proud of his work and expected his countrymen to share in the sentiment. Upon the realization that his 'baby' was a failure, Renoir felt the need to flee. This article really puts into perspective the importance of this film to Renoir and provides legitimate reasons for his seemingly-extreme reaction.