One Liner Review:
A very funny and also intricate movie about relationships in upper class french society.
This is a hell of a movie. The storyline is filled with affairs and romantic paintings and all kinds of twists and turns that are so crazy it will make your head spin. Only in a good way. There are basically two different love triangles going on here, and they cross over each other in multiple ways. In the case of one if them, it’s actually goes from a triangle to a square to a pentagon. Now all this must sound incredibly complicated, with how many characters are involved, and yet somehow, it actually isn’t. The characters stand out, and what helps us is that one romance is among the upper class folks who live in a mansion and have a hunting party, while the other is among the working class people who take care of the estate. The title of the film comes in to play in all kinds of ways, where different characters either don’t understand the rules of society, when it comes to romance, or have a loyalty code that they refuse to break. The result is an I ncredibly funny, creative, and wild experience.
Full Length Analysis:
The Rules of The Game (1939, Written and Directed by Jean Renoir)
The Rules of The Game
(1939, Written and Directed by Jean Renoir)
The Rules of the Game is the classic movie that many believe to be one of the best films of all time, right up there with Citizen Kane. Like that American film, this foreign movie was known to be an innovative film that achieved wonders for it’s time, both in technical inventiveness and also story creativity. Also, like Citizen Kane, The Rules of the Game used the wealthy, upper-class to entertain the masses (either by having Kane provide news to the common man, or by hosting a party, here), and to reflect upon society. Both movies take place in mansions, surrounded by history-making news broadcasts and families with great fortune. Both movies try out new possibilities with camera work to give us shots and angles that we have never seen before. But while Kane is the movie of one man’s life, and how he fell into isolation and became a tragic hero, The Rules of The Game is about a whole group of characters and the different messes they get themselves into. Citizen Kane is a psychological drama, whereas The Rules of the Game is a whimsical comedy. Both films are commentaries on society.
The Rules of the Game introduces us to numerous characters in it’s first four scenes, but does it in such a way that each scene connects to the next one. Each character carries over to the scene that follows it, so that we are not seeing four different stories, and new characters in each one, but one continuous story. We learn of characters in one scene, by hearing their names mentioned in dialogue, and then we meet them in the next. In this way, the movie is very carefully providing us with the names and details we need so as to not get confused by all of the characters. It sets us up for what will be coming in the near future, and then leads us on the path from one meeting of new characters to the next. With all of the characters and connections between them, in many ways this story feels like something written by Shakespeare. Especially when one considers the tragic ending of the film.
Long before that, however, the movie begins with a big event. There is a news broadcast out on an airfield. A famous pilot is about to land, having just made history by accomplishing a record breaking flight over the Atlantic Ocean. We listen to the news reporter telling us exactly what is happening and why this is such a big achievement. Then we watch the plane land.
The pilot gets out and we meet Andre Jurieux, a man who is being hailed as a hero. His friend, Octave (played by the film’s director, Jean Renoir himself), approaches and Andre has only one question. “Is she here?” It’s the only thing on his mind right now. Is the woman who he did this for here to see his landing? The answer is no, and Andre is disheartened when he hears it. A news reporter approaches and asks Andre questions about how he feels. Andre answers truthfully with how terrible and disappointed he is feeling because the woman who he dedicated this record to, and set out to accomplish this mission for, is not here to see him. The news reporter makes excuses to the public for Andre’s words, claiming how tired Andre must be after the long flight, but it is clear that Andre did not provide her with the interview she wanted or expected.
We move to a wealthy bedroom where two women sit listening to the broadcast. One of them, Christine, turns it off. We will later learn that she is the woman Andre is speaking of. After we return to the airfield for a few more words, we will come back to this room and learn more about the women.
Back on the airfield, the reporter has moved on from Andre to interview a technical expert in the engineering of the plane and ask him all about the design of the vehicle. The engineer speaks of how there was no copilot and instead the passenger seat was removed to provide an extra fuel tank. This is all very symbolic. Andre longs for a copilot. He is doomed to be alone, both in the air and on land. Later on in the movie, Octave will have a talk with Christine in which he explains how Andre is socially a mess. He will tell her that in the air, Andre is a hero, but when he comes back to land he is all confused about the way things work. The copilot situation is another comparison to that, with Andre not needing a copilot when he is in the air, but very much needing one when he is back on the ground, among society.
Understanding what is and is not proper in current society is where the title of the movie gets its name. “The Rules of the Game,” refers to the rules of society. It does have multiple meanings, considering a big event of this movie is a hunt sequence that is simply a game, but the most obvious meaning is about the rules and workings of upper class social life. The Rules of the Game might also mean the rules of the hunt, or the rules of catching game (a hunter’s prey). And by game, in that way, it does not necessarily mean an animal. It might also mean catching the guy who is after your wife. There will be two different parallel situations by the end of the movie, where one man’s wife is seduced by another man, and the angry husband chases after the man who is trying to steal his wife. Perhaps these chases are the real hunts as jealous husbands try to catch their “game,” or perhaps this is simply just one more possibility for what the title refers to.
The air field opening sequence of the movie ends with Octave reaming out his friend, Andre, for the interview. He calls Andre childish and spoiled, saying that this is no way for a hero to act. Especially not in such a public forum. This last conversation, before we move onto other characters, really kick-starts the film with the idea that Andre does not understand the rules of proper behavior, but the title of the film does not necessarily refer to him. Christine, too, does not understand the rules, which is why she has led Andre to believe that there was something between them, when really that was not what she intended.
Following the air field sequence that opens up the movie, we move to the chambers of Christine and her hand maiden, Lisette. Both women are married. Christine, who should be the spotlight of attention right now, considering she is the one that national hero Andre just spoke of, instead turns the attention away from herself and asks Lisette all kinds of personal questions. She asks Lisette about her husband and we learn that Lisette’s husband works at a mansion out in the country, where he is the game warden, patrolling the grounds. Christine asks about Lisette’s lovers and we learn that Lisette has entertained many men, while her husband has been away, including Octave. This is getting interesting already.
When Christine asks Lisette if she thinks that men and women can ever just be friends, Lisette laughs it off saying, “when pigs have wings.” This statement proves to be true even of the friendship in this movie that is the least likely to turn into a romance, the one between Christine and Octave. He was friends with her father, is a whole generation older than her, has been friends with her for ages, and is now best friends with Andre, the guy who is currently in love with her. But despite all of these things working against it, even he, by the end of the movie, will cross onto a romantic path with Christine.
By Christine asking Lisette all of these questions, it is not only mentioning some characters we have just seen (like Octave), but also introducing us to others (Lisette’s husband, Schumacher, and how he is far away at the mansion in the countryside.) It is also showing us that Christine is trying to understand the rules of the game, and asking questions to get an idea of how French society works. We will learn in just a few scenes, that Christine is actually a foreigner, from Austria, and that for these reasons she does not understand French society’s rules.
We follow Christine out of the room where she sat with Lisette, and she walks around the mansion asking different servants if they have seen the Monsieur. She is referring to her husband, Robert (also known as La Cheyniest.) When she finds Robert, he is in a room listening to Andre’s radio broadcast. He shows Christine a doll that he has created which plays music, and she comments that she prefers this music to the radio. That makes Robert realize she is talking about Andre’s radio broadcast. Clearly, it is the only thing on Christine’s mind, since even the doll’s music makes her think of it. The doll represents the immaturity and absurdity of the situation Christine is in with Andre. She has misled him into thinking she has feelings for him, and he reacts like a child, crying out to the world on public radio. Christine would prefer to deal with these kinds of problems from a child than from an adult who is acting like a child.
Christine and her husband get into a conversation about Andre and how he does not understand that Christine was merely trying to be friendly to him when she encouraged him to take the flight. The conversation spirals into one about trust, and Robert tells Christine that he is glad he can trust her. Andre might be a national hero who has just made the flight for her, but she still has no interest in him and no plans to leave her husband’s side. Robert tells her that he appreciates that. Christine responds by asking Robert if he can be trusted too, and he tells her yes, but then immediately runs off to call his mistress.
It’s very funny, the way Robert goes from telling her that she can trust him, to getting right on the phone with the woman he is having an affair with. This woman is Genevieve, and Robert is actually calling her to tell her that he wants to end their affair. Genevieve wants to meet him, and so the next day, that’s exactly what they do.
This meeting is the last of those first four opening scenes of the movie, each one introducing a new character and leading into the next. The first scene gave us Andre and Octave talking about Christine. Then we met Christine and Lisette. We followed Christine over to her husband for the third scene and then followed the husband to Genevieve for the fourth. By the end of all this, we have one marriage, two potential affairs, (Andre with Christine and Robert with Genevieve), and two other side players (Octave and Lisette), who will both be involved in stories of their own as the movie goes forward.
The meeting between Robert and Genevieve takes place at her home, with him telling her, “last night I suddenly decided to be worthy of my wife.” What a great line. She is aware that this sudden realization wasn’t exactly out of nowhere and lets him know it. “All this because of Andre Jurieux?” She asks. He doesn’t lie here, and instead he confesses, telling her that she is very perceptive.
Andre’s opening statement in the interview on the airfield has carried on into every scene that has followed it. Here, four scenes later on down the line, the characters are referencing it, and how it has affected them and caused them to make changes in their lives. While Andre and Robert are both romantics and now set their sights on only one woman (who happens to be the same woman), Genevieve has a very different outlook on love. When she hangs up the phone with Robert earlier on in the movie, having just set the plans to meet him the next day, she goes over to some gentlemen playing cards in her house and tells them her philosophy on love. She tells them that it is really just two skins rubbing together. The men are talking about Christine and how they are all in love with her, which has got to be insulting to Genevieve, who is right there. Her comments about love are in response to thinking about Christine and Robert together. She wants to think there is no such thing as love, and will spend the movie trying to prove it.
The meeting scene between Genevieve and Robert takes place in a strange room with lots of Buddha statues. Both Genevieve and Robert hang onto these statues and lean on them, really drawing attention to them. The idea here is wisdom. Robert is making a wise choice by attempting to leave Genevieve. She is being wise to realize the reason why he is leaving was all caused by Andre’s flight. But not all of his decisions will be so smart. When he invites Genevieve to his party, later on, he is somehow not able to foresee that this will be setting himself up for trouble.
We leave Robert and Genevieve, with everything worked out and seeming like it is on the right path. They have established that Robert will no longer see Genevieve and will be faithful to his wife from this point on. We now move to the road where Andre and Octave are speeding down the street. Andre is the one behind the wheel and he drives right off the side of the road. He and Octave both get out, unharmed, and Andre explains that he is miserable because of this Christine business. That prompts Octave to go and speak to Christine and see what she has to say.
Octave arrives at the mansion and sits down on the bed with his long time friend. It gets very strange when he lies down on his back and she leans right over him, as if ready to kiss him. Perhaps this is foreshadowing for the way she will later be the one to seduce him. For now, Octave is here to talk about his buddy, Andre. He tells Christine how miserable his friend is, and Christine agrees to meet Andre. She says that Octave can invite Andre to the party they will be having at the country house. The same party that Robert invited Genevieve to.
But this movie is smart and realizes that just because Christine says it, does not mean that the man of the house, Robert, will be okay with it. After all, Robert heard the radio broadcast too, and isn’t too thrilled with the way this Andre has publicly made statements about his interest in Christine. A lesser movie would have tried to ignore the fact that Robert needs to invite Andre too, and would have had Octave just accept Christine’s offer and move on. But this one is careful and smart, and so it has Octave leave Christine’s room to go find Robert and talk to him about asking Andre to come to the house as well.
With Robert, Octave takes a clever approach. He sits down on the couch as the camera moves back, behind Octave, so that we can see his back and see Robert sitting at the other end of the couch, facing him. This is one of those innovative camera techniques of the movie, showing both the foreground (Octave leaning back into us) and the background (Robert facing him). Octave’s way of convincing Robert to allow Andre to be invited is to tell Robert that he can be of assistance in helping out with the Genevieve problem. Of course what Octave has in mind is a little too optimistic. He hopes that instead of Christine, he can somehow get Andre to fall for Genevieve. If that happens then all of their problems will be solved. Andre will no longer be after Christine, and Genevieve will leave Robert alone. Robert agrees, and so Octave sets out to invite Andre, and Robert sets out to officially invite Genevieve.
Now that all of the plans have been set in motion and we are finished with the first two acts of the movie, which have both been setup and planning, we can head to the country house. The rest of the movie will take place here. I love that the way we first see the country house is with Robert’s car arriving, watching him get out, walk over to the main entrance, and go inside. It gives us the feeling of arrival and of us being a guest at the house as well, going in through the front entrance and showing up there just as the characters do.
We stroll the grounds with the people who work at the mansion and meet Schumacher, Lisette’s husband. Schumacher is the head gameskeeper, and he is out to make sure the hunt tomorrow will be a success for all who attend. He catches a poacher trying to catch and steal rabbits from the land, and is deciding what to do with him, when Robert comes by. The poacher’s name is Marceau and Robert asks Schumacher about who this man is and why he is being detained.
To Schumacher’s surprise, when Robert hears how good Marceau is at catching rabbits, he hires the man to work at the mansion. Schumacher can’t believe his ears. This man was breaking the law and stealing from them and now Robert wants to give him a job. Right away Schumacher and Marceau are at odds, and this first scene between them is setup for the things that are to come. Later on in the movie, the two of them, along with Schumacher’s wife, Lisette, will form the second love triangle of the film, (Robert, Andre, and Christine are the first, although if you add Genevieve, it’s actually four people.)
We move back to the entrance of the country house to see Christine and Lisette arrive. Schumacher goes to greet his wife, Lisette, and tells her how much he has missed her. He tells her that he wants her to leave her job working for Christine and to come to live with him. She is hardly interested. Genevieve also arrives and Robert greets her. She tells him that she has heard the news that Andre was invited and cannot believe that Robert invited this man. Perhaps it is in this moment that Genevieve starts thinking up a plan that will drive Christine into Andre’s arms. Later on, when Genevieve kisses Robert and is caught by Christine, that is exactly what ends up happening.
Now Andre and Octave arrive at the house and Andre is greeted with quite a reception from the guests. They love him for his accomplishment. He is the local celebrity and everybody’s hero. Christine takes the affection that Andre is being given, as a sign that she should take some credit too. She gives a speech about how she influenced Andre’s flight, as Andre stands right beside her listening along with the rest of the crowd. But the thing that makes this shot so special, is that right in between them, we can see Robert in the background. This, again, is the innovative foreground and background work of the movie. We watch as Robert stands listening to the speech with his head down, trying to endure this moment, hoping it will end quickly. He hangs on every word that Christine says, just waiting for the moment when it will embarrass him. And it never does. Later on in the movie, he thanks Christine for the way she handled that, never talking about the feelings that Andre developed for her and the reasons why he might have developed those feelings.
We see the guests in the hallway going to their rooms for the evening and even join Octave and Andre in their shared bedroom, having a brief conversation about what tomorrow will bring. At this point, the hunt is so close that director Jean Renoir tries to get us to it as quickly as possible. No more distractions. We are going from a scene of the guests turning in for the evening directly out to the hunt.
The next day opens up with the hunt, as tons of animals are struck down. This is the midpoint of the movie, and like an intermission, it has no effect on the story. The scenes of animals being shot down have no bearing on the characters, and the entire scene is meant to be a breather and space away from the situations of the film. This is evidenced by the fact that we never really see who is killing each animal. We are not with the characters for these scenes, but with the hunt. We don’t see who kills what because it doesn’t really matter. It has no impact on the rest of the film.
Ironically, the scene that is meant to be a breather (the hunt,) is actually filled with death. This is not the peaceful break one might expect, and yet it is meant to make a statement, that all this wreckless killing is still more peaceful than watching the problems, failed plotting, and giant screw ups of these upper class society folks.
The hunt is also symbolic of what is to come. This is a hunt of men against animals and it is meant to foreshadow the hunt that will follow in the late portions of the movie, of men hunting men. The animal hunt is like the warm up round. It is setting us up for what the movie has in store for us. Other than that, it has nothing to do with the plot, and so is just meant to give us a little time away from the characters.
The plot does resume, however, at the end of the hunt. Christine picks up a pair of binoculars. She spots Robert and Genevieve out in the field. Robert has gone for a walk with Genevieve and she has agreed to end the affair, and to no longer bother him. But she wants one final kiss first. It is in this moment, as Robert and Genevieve are kissing, that Christine spots them. This is the catalyst moment that will launch us into the rest of the movie.
Back inside the mansion, the aftermath of the hunt begins with a party. There is a performance of actors dressed in skeleton costumes dancing to the song “Danse Macabre,” by Angele Dubeau and La Pieta. It’s a song about skeletons coming to life, bursting out of their graves, and dancing around the graveyard. The performers leave the stage and head into the crowd, jokingly threatening the audience. This is foreshadowing that death will be coming for at least one of the audience members. The night is young and before it is over, it will turn dark and violent and death will claim one of these guests.
Schumacher is the first of the main characters to appear, once the party has begun. He catches Marceau trying to seduce his wife, Lisette, downstairs. Schumacher chases Marceau away. Back upstairs, Christine is also leaving her husband’s side, just like Lisette is, and looking for another man.
Christine heads into a room with a man, leaving the party, and Octave tries to stop her. Octave is dressed up in a bear suit, from having performed in the show, and he wants Christine to help him get it off. Really he just wants to stop her from going off with his random man. Octave tells Christine that he put the bear suit on for her, which ends up sounding a lot like Andre’s declaration about the flight, from earlier. Just like in that situation, Christine rejects this idea of aomeone doing something in her name, and she goes off with the man anyway, leaving Octave behind.
But Christine and this gentleman don’t get very far. They make it into a room just before Robert busts in and catches them. He starts arguing with Christine and when the man tries to tell Robert that he shouldn’t talk to her like that, Robert goes after him. He starts fighting the man. It’s funny how in a movie from so long ago, the fighting is just a couple of comical wallops. In a movie today, it would be Robert actually beating this guy to the ground.
None-the-less, it is enough for Christine to realize that the guy she was about to cheat on Robert with, was really a coward, unable to defend himself. She needs a manly man who will stand up to her husband and so she goes off to find the only hero she knows…Andre Jurieux.
When she finds Andre, Christine is surprised by the reaction he gives her. Of course he wants to be with her, and wants to take her away from Robert, and begin his romantic relationship with this woman who he has been obsessed with since before he made the flight. Only he feels the need to talk to Robert about it first.
This is part of the rules of the game idea. It’s a little bit unclear which of these characters, Andre or Christine, is the one who really does not understand the rules of the game at this point. The romantic game is won by passionate lovers who don’t hesitate to take what they want. Christine knows this, but Andre does not. She can’t believe that Andre wants to spend time talking to her husband about running away with her. In fact, she explains to Octave that Andre wants her to go live with his mother for a month while he spends that time with Robert, making sure that Robert understands and is okay with all this. To her, Andre is not playing by the rules of romance here, but is instead putting Robert’s feelings and understanding ahead of those of the woman he loves.
To Andre, it is Christine who does not understand the rules of the game. She is a foreigner, unfamiliar with French society, and she does not understand that it is against the rules of the civilized upper-class to just run away with another man’s wife. Especially if that man is your host and has invited you to his home as a guest. To Andre, breaking these rules would be dishonoring one’s own reputation. He wants to be with Christine, but the way he goes about it is important to him. He refuses to dishonor and disrespect Robert in the process of getting what he wants.
This sort of code between men is one of the many rules that the movie and its title are all about. When Christine sees that Andre needs to talk to Robert, she loses interest in him and instead goes for Octave. She tells Octave that he is the one she has really been in love with all along. Maybe it’s true, if we think back to that first meeting between them in the bedroom, with Octave lying on his back and Christine leaning over, as if ready to kiss him. Still, even Octave has a code that he refuses to break. He’s okay with running away with Christine, but when he has to lie to his friend Andre about it, it’s crossing the line.
Octave goes into the house to get Christine’s jacket for her. When he is inside, Andre comes over and asks him what is happening. If Octave lies here, then he can slip out and go run away with Christine. But he cannot lie to his friend, and so he tells Andre that Christine is waiting for Andre outside and even gives his friend the jacket to bring to her.
While there is this theme of the code between men, that is demonstrated to us in many examples, including the one that gets both Marceau and Schumacher fired at the same time, (because Robert cannot allow Marceau to stay employed at the house with Schumacher’s wife,) there is also a strong code between women here. After Genevieve is caught by Christine, kissing her husband, Genevieve expects Christine to be angry with her. She packs her bags and gets ready to leave when Christine comes and stops her. Christine tells Genevieve that she is not angry and that women need to stick together. In another, similar moment, when Robert tells Lisette that her husband, Schumacher, is requesting for her to come and live with him, Lisette tells Robert that she would rather get a divorce than leave her Madame, Christine’s side. Just like the men choosing each other over the women (Andre’s choosing to talk to Robert instead of just running away with Christine, or Octave choosing Andre over running away with Christine), this is the women choosing each other over the men. It’s a code that neither side is willing to break.
By the end of the movie, the stakes have been raised as Schumacher runs around the country house chasing Marceau with a gun. Schumacher recklessly fires the gun into the air, again and again, and terrorizes all of the guests. While nobody is hurt from any of the stray bullets, Robert is still forced to fire Schumacher for putting his guests in danger. And after Schumacher leaves, Robert explains to Marceau why he now has to let him go as well. Schumacher might have been wrong, but Robert cannot let Marceau stay around here, working in the same place as Schumacher’s wife. He cannot be the one to enable Marceau to court and possibly steal Lisette away from her husband.
There is still another instance of the code between men. It happens between two of the most unlikely characters. Schumacher and Marceau. Just moments earlier they were chasing each other around the mansion, firing guns, and trying to kill each other. But now they have both been fired from their jobs, and as Marceau walks off the grounds, he passes Schumacher in tears, leaning against a tree. Instead of the clichéd move of Schumacher now continuing to chase Marceau, or starting to strangle him, saying “you are the reason for all of this,” the movie takes a smarter and more unpredictable approach. It has the two men actually set aside their differences and join forces.
They watch as Christine comes out of the house, dressed in Lisette’s cape that Schumacher bought for his wife. The cape and Schumacher’s buying it for her were both established earlier in the movie, and when the men see the woman wearing the cape, they automatically assume it is Lisette. They see Octave come up and kiss her. It is Christine that he is kissing, of course, but the men don’t realize that. They are both so angry about losing their jobs and being kicked out that they allow themselves to become blinded by this anger and decide to kill the man who they think is kissing Lisette.
Only Octave goes back inside. That’s where he runs into Andre in the hallway and gives Andre the jacket to bring out to Christine. Octave is taking the high road here, being unselfish and refusing to lie to his friend. And by doing that, he is unknowingly actually saving his own life. Andre goes out to bring Christine the jacket and Schumacher fires. Andre falls dead.
I love the end twist of how Schumacher and Marceau not only got Christine and Lisette mixed up, but also Octave and Andre. They thought they were killing Octave over Lisette. As it happened, the romance they were witnessing actually had nothing to do with them. This is absolute Shakespearian kind of stuff. The death is completely tragic, considering the man killed is not even doing what his killers think he is. Despite the misconceptions and mistakes in identity that are made, there is still a cool twist to it all, which is that the man who was killed was indeed running away with another man’s wife. They just weren’t the man or the woman that Schumacher and Marceau thought they were. Andre, the victim of the shooting, is doing the crime, but not with the woman that these guys are both in love with.
Andre’s death is also tragic because he is the national hero of the movie. He is the one who has just broken a record and achieved great success. He is the one who is about to start living a life of fame, and has so much promise ahead of him. And he is killed. It is his own choice, in a sense, because instead of accepting his new celebrity status and leaving this married woman, who is not interested in him, he continues to pursue her. He wants what he can’t have and it ends up costing him his life.
Andre’s death is strangely a bit of a full circle for the movie. At the start of the film, he was flying into the airport, landing his plane. By the end of the movie, he is dead. One might say that he is now going back up to the heavens, of which he came down from at the start of the film. Andre is dead because he disobeyed the rules of the game. He was an invited guest to another man’s house and while there, he attempted to steal the wife of his host.
Aside from Andre’s death, there are other circles that become closed by the end of the movie as well. Christine, for example, has spent the second half of the movie jumping from one man to the next. She was with the man who Robert fought with in the bedroom, then with Andre, and then with Octave. By the end of the movie she is back with her husband, Robert again, just like at start of the film.
Another interesting point here is the honoring of Andre. At the beginning of the movie he is being honored because of his fligh, by a news broadcast. In the middle of the film, he arrives at the country house and Christine honors him by making a speech to her guests about this man and how she inspired his great flight. By the end of the movie, Andre has died and he is being honored by people who speak about the kind of man that he was.
By the end of the movie, Andre’s death has caused Octave to give up on the idea of running away with Christine, and this is another example of the rules of the game. Octave had no problem running away with the woman his friend was in love with while his friend was still alive (although he did have a problem with lying to his friend about it), but now that his friend is dead, he does have a big problem with it. He can no longer run away with Christine. To do so would be to dishonor the memory of Andre.
The title of the movie has so many layers and meanings. Most of them refer to the rules of society and how they are often irrational, but still need to be upheld in order to follow a certain code of honor. When Lisette sees that Octave is about to run off with Christine, toward the end of the picture, she tells him, “when it’s just for fun, it’s okay, but when it’s for living together, the young are for the young and the old are for the old.” She is telling Octave that he is too old for Christine, but doing it in such a way that she is using the rules of society to try and convince him.
There are so many characters and rules here and watching them get broken is a major part of the movie. The biggest one, of course, is Andre’s refusal to run away with Christine before he has the chance to explain it to Robert. This movie explores multiple relationships and affairs, as well as codes between people of the upper class. I love that the same situation that happens with the wealthy party-goers is mirrored by a parallel situation with the people who make up the help. Two different love triangles develop in this movie and they even cross over each other, leading to two members from the lower class killing an upper class character because they think he is involved in their situation. When the situations are so close that people actually mistake other people of a different social class for people of their own, and are willing to kill over it, you know you are watching a well-thought out and carefully constructed movie. The Rules of the Game is filled with clever parallel story ideas and twists and turns. It is a very smart and well-made film, completely innovative and humorous at all times.