Bergan, Ronald. "Everyone Has His Reasons." Jean Renoir: Projections of Paradise. Woodstock: The Overlook Press, 1994: 196-206.
In this chapter, Ronald Bergan goes into detail on Jean Renoir's influences for Rules of the Game. For starters, he explains that Renoir kept several elements from the original, Les Caprices de Marianne. Before writing his script, Renoir also drew from other Musset works as well as French baroque music. Bergan believes that these sources, as well as the political events surrounding Renoir, allowed him to create such a unique style in Rules of the Game - one that neatly combined "melodrama and farce" (198). Bergan emphasizes the importance of the hunting scene in the film which shows the "callous cruelty of the guests" and provides the most explicitly violent critique of French bourgeois society (203). Bergan makes a point to note the animosity between (and among) both the upper and lower classes as the solidarity of the Popular Front is now gone. While the prejudice and snobbery of the ruling class is blatantly on display, their critiqued behaviors are echoed by their servants. Bergan also explains Renoir's use of deep-focused lenses, stating that such far-reaching shots were necessary to gather all of the actions taking place in such a dynamic ensemble production. Quick shots and heavy editing would simply not show the interworkings of society that the deep, long shots are capable of. Bergan concludes his chapter by providing some explanation for the harsh critiques that Rules of the Game received by the public upon its release: at the time, Renoir was a known supporter of the Communist Party. Also, his casting provoked "right-wing, anti-semitic and xenophobic emotions" (205).
This article is extremely interesting as Ronald Bergan is able to list several stylistic influences on Renoir in writing Rules of the Game. Instead of focusing on the thematic influences such as the Munich agreement, as other critics have done, Bergan is able to hone in on specific tricks peformed by Renoir, often unorthodox, to inspire his story, such as listening to Baroque music. This offers an alternate view of Jean Renoir in which he is drawing from each and every source in his life to fuel a powerfully creative, though extremely accurate, tale of the world around him. Bergan also details the remarkable accomplishment of, in essence, creating the long shot in Rules of the Game. This huge triumph is usually overshadowed by the negative French public opinion of the film. Bergan, however, explains several concrete reasons as to why the film was met with such criticism by initial audiences. Firstly, Renoir's ties with the Communist Party would have pitted a great deal of Frenchmen against him from the start, especially after observing somet type of critique of French society. Fear of communism, especially in the current situation in Europe, could have easily allowed Rules of the Game to come off as Jean Renoir's attempt at French communist propaganda. Also, the stars of his film included a Jewish man and an Austrian woman, clearly stirring the hatred of the prejudiced and also confusing the public, in such a time of national fragility, that Renoir would even think of using possible 'enemies' to portray the French, especially in a critique.
Armes, Roy. "The Paradoxes of French Realism." French Cinema. New York: Oxford University Press, 1985: 86-108.
Roy Armes takes a slightly different approach to analyzing Rules of the Game and the works of Renoir than my other sources. He starts off by saying that Renoir's works are not united by a common style. He, instead, characterizes Renoir's films as existing between contradictory impulses, in a state of tension. He suggests viewing and analayzing each of Renoir's films separately, each in its own contemporary setting. Armes believes this is necessary as Renoir proved to be greatly influenced by each shift, however miniscule, within French society before WWII. Each major political event in the European world of the 1930s can be seen as part of one of Jean Renoir's films. Armes acclaims Rules of the Game as Renoir's most impulsive, uninhibited work that toys with reality and illusion and also provides a "self-portrait of rare depth" (107). Armes describes the theatrical techniques used by Renoir and the 'dramatic fantasy' that he creates by forming several 'play within a play' structures. Armes believes that each pivotal moment in the film arises when two incongruously linked characters are brought together - a technique that both readily induces dramatic conflict within the film and obviously mirrors conflict within society, providing a clear juxtaposition to the imposing 2nd World War.
This article provides a different perspective from which to view the film. Unlike many other critics that group Renoir's films together as a continuous social critique, Roy Armes underlines the importance of viewing each film separately. If Renoir were truly sensitive to changes in French culture, each of his films would embody a different viewpoint and radiate an entirely different spirit. It is very important, as Armes suggests, to analyze each film in its own contemporary setting. Thus, Rules of the Game should not be immediately compared to Renoir's other works as it often is. Armes also brings up the possibility that the film was, for Renoir, something of a self portrait. This provides countless new options for viewing the film and thus, Jean Renoir. For instance, we can learn alot about Renoir and his intentions by studying the character of Octave. Paradoxically, watching the film and analyzing the character will help viewers better understand the filmmaker and, thus, his intentions with the film. The article also suggests that Renoir uses a 'dramatic fantasy' technique in order to artfully bury his political beliefs in a complicated web of relationships. Knowing this technique helps one extract Renoir's intended messages from the film.