Sunday, October 4, 2009

#48 Rules of the Game 1939

With Rules of the Game, we’re not only introduced to a new story and new characters, but an entirely different world. In this world, sex is the favorite and most popular pastime, and a man’s wife and mistress can be best friends, even if they both know one another’s roles. In the film, were introduced to two love triangles. One exists in the upper class, consisting of a marquis Robert, his wife, Christine, and his mistress Genevieve. It also becomes apparent that that national hero Andre is head over heals for Christine and would like to make to claim her for himself. The second triangle is created among the Robert and Christine’s staff, between Christine’s maid, Lisette, her husband (the groundskeeper) Schumacher, and Lisette’s would-be lover, Marceau (although Lisette has a wide range of lovers at her disposal). The two triangles progress side-by-side, one being about love and commitment, the other based upon sex.

From the very beginning, we know that infidelity is going to be a major theme in this film. Almost everyone is either cheating on his or her significant other, but no one seems to be perturbed by that. It seems to simply be the way of the French. People confess to being unfaithful, others watch people lock themselves in rooms with people other than their spouses. They look on and laugh.

Interestingly enough, there are two non-French characters, who are the most out of the loop. Christine is not French and is the only person oblivious to her husband’s affair. Schumacher is also not French, or at least not completely French. The marquis even teases him, saying his name in “shoe maker.” These are more-or-less the only characters who seem to have a problem with chronic infidelity, although Christine eventually gets over it.

The role of the servants was also interesting. Obviously, some servants (Lisette, Schumacher, and Marceau) played a important role in the film. However, others, who were more cursory characters, accented the movie in an entertaining way. They acted as the level headed parents, rolling their eyes and cleaning up after the band of spoiled children they work for. In many ways, they mirrored the modern American spectators, as we scoff at the rich’s absurd requests and watch wide-eyed as their tangled webs unravel. As a consequence of the vast divide between us and the main characters (due to socio-economics and moral fiber), the spectators find it particularly easy and comforting to connect with the help.

In conclusion, I thought that the story was interesting, but the plot twists were uncalled-for and lessened the characters, who were fairly flat to begin with. As a whole, Rules of the Game was a good movie, but not one of the best, in my opinion.

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