The Rules of the Game and Aristotle

Aristotle, in his work, “Poetics,” outlines the way that tragedies should take place. Although he wrote this many years ago, much of “Poetics” still applies today and can be seen in today’s equivalent of an Ancient Greek Tradegy, cinema. However, many interesting or more influential films deviate from the traditional blueprint that has been in place for two thousand years. Jean Renior’s “The Rules of the Game” is an example of a successful film that has deviated from Aristotle’s formula for performance art.

For instance, according to Aristotle, tragedies must have”a beginning, a middle, and an end” (Aristotle, Poetics VII). In the case of Renior’s film, there is no clear linear sequencing that Aristotle requires. This technique, referred to by Evan Smith as thread structure, used most often in more complex films, allows the audience to be more surprised. With a linear structure, people most often can predict the ends or become bored while watching. Although linear structure is a more common practice, it is oftentimes the thread structured films that become critically acclaimed. With Renior’s film there is no single story line. Instead, one hears from many characters of different backgrounds.

I was definitely surprised by the film. I was really intrigued by the first scene with Andre in his plane. After that things got dull and I thought I was not going to enjoy the film, however once I got used to the film it became interesting. I think for me the film is about the juxtaposition between classes and since the social structure and common practices are different today, it was harder to relate to until the movie progressed a bit. It definitely seemed like the film was in head of its time compared to other films that I’ve seen from that time in terms of shooting and mise-en-scene. Overall, I would recommend the film to others.


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