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Ray Pride

By Ray Pride Pride@moviecitynews.com

Rules of the Game's positive negative

Rules of the Game taught me the rules of the game,” Kevin Thomas quotes Robert Altman in a dispatch detailing the recent 35mm digital restoration of Jean Renoir‘s 1939 masterpiece (the prior Criterion DVD edition was only cleaned up for video). rulesofgame-terrace.jpg Thomas also quotes Renoir as saying his rationale for making pictures was to make “audiences feel a little less lonely.” Showing at the NuArt in Los Angeles and opening Friday at Chicago’s Music Box, the negative of Rules of the Game was destroyed by bombs during World War II. The two men who first reconstructed the film “labored three years to incorporate the trimmed footage, found untouched in a warehouse, with the best portions of the few copies of the soon-banned film that survived the war. They managed to reconstitute the film with less than a minute missing. Only now has it become possible to see Rules of the Game as it looked upon its July 7, 1939, Paris debut. That’s because Criterion[‘s Janus] Films has undertaken a complete digital restoration of a fine-grain master print located in Paris after a painstaking search… While Roger Ebert has expressed puzzlement that “this magical and elusive work” always seems to place second to Citizen Kane on best-films lists, Bertrand Tavernier, a major contemporary French director whose work reflects a deep knowledge and appreciation of world cinema, has said that he would “give the whole of Citizen Kane” for a shot like that of the guests arriving at the chateau “like in a Robert Altman film, with people talking, overlapping within the shot, and a wonderful depth of focus.” Indeed, for critic J. Hoberman Rules of the Game is “a movie that Woody Allen, Robert Altman and Mike Leigh, to name three, are always trying to remake.” *

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