Silver, Charles. "Jean Renoir and Josef Von Sternberg: A Centennial Duo." MoMA.18 (1994): 24-7.
Silver compares and contrasts Jean Renoir and Josef Von Sternberg. As contemporaries in the film industry, the two filmmakers carry numerous similarities, and even some coincidences link the two. Both immigrated to the United States, residing in California, especially in response to Hitler’s growing power in Europe, and both also maintained similar close relationships with their actors. Silver even compares Renoir to Japanese director Yasujiro Ozu, as they both chose actors they already knew as people; Renoir would cast his brother Pierre, or close friends like Jean Gabin. Even in terms of cinematic themes, Renoir and Sternberg both focused on the power and pervasiveness of water throughout their filmmaking careers. Yet, the two filmmakers also had a number of differences. Whereas Renoir maintained a more impromptu, almost sloppy style, Sternberg had a reputedly more perfectionist directing style, clearly dictating his cinematic vision to his actors.
Though Silver’s piece is more of a broad discussion of two filmmakers during the World War II era, he does mention artist Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s influence on his son Jean. Silver also discusses Jean Renoir’s “reverence for the past, both civilization’s and his own,” which incorporates not only the politics of the time, but also the literary and artistic movements, and technological advancements (i.e. sound film) that accompanied (26). Silver does not focus deeply on exactly what political events directly affected the making of La Règle du jeu, but does offer key insight to greater cultural influences on the filmmaker, which loosely supports the concept that the era’s politics and culture molded the film.
Renoir, Jean. "La Regle du jeu--1939." My Life and My Films. Trans. Norman Denny. N.p.: Da Capo, 1991. Rpt. in Jean Renoir's The Rules of the Game. N.p.: n.p., n.d.
In this excerpt from his book, Renoir describes the process in which he planned the creation of La Règle du jeu. Baroque music, especially the works of Coupenn, Rameau, Lulli and Grétry, served as the platform for Renoir’s focus on the haute bourgeoisie. A focus on Lestringuez’s “amorous intrigues” inspired the filmmaker to focus on the frivolity of love as a thematic motif in the film. Hearkening back to his early childhood, Renoir recounted images of Sologne—the fog, the countryside, and the hunting season—all clearly portrayed in the film. Renoir also describes the influence of Les Caprices de Marianne, which he had originally considered creating a modern remake of; a fragment of its themes would be seen in the tragic climax of La Règle du jeu.
This excerpt of Renoir’s book is particularly interesting and relevant to my thesis because of its description of the filmmaker’s philosophy and his own awareness of what influences him. He describes the role of Nora Grégor, who played Christine de La Chesnaye, and her husband, as the two faced increasing troubles with the rise of Hitler in their homeland of Austria. Renoir described his approach to film by saying, “One starts with the environment to arrive at the self.” Essentially, he takes from what is around him to come upon what he is to create; he wrote the part of Christine for Nora Grégor. This philosophy is the same of Renoir’s father. Jean Renoir claims La Règle du jeu is a war film, though there is not a blatant ounce of war in the film. Instead, the film was a result of the impending World War II. Renoir intended to offer a pleasant film for audiences to forget their worries; however, La Règle du jeu emphasized the dismantling of French society, testament to Renoir’s inability to isolate himself from the politics of the time, and further evidence in support of my argument.