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Directed by Jean Renoir

France 1939 106 mins. In French

Although it was met with diverse responses when it was released, few films have earned such universal critical acclaim as Renoir’s masterpiece. The “game” is life: Renoir and cinematographer Henri Cartier-Bresson paint a broad canvas, taking as their subject the foibles of bourgeois French society. At a weekend hunting party on the eve of World War II, amorous escapades abound among the aristocratic guests and the servants in a Gallic “Upstairs, Downstairs.” The refusal of one guest to play by society’s rules sparks a chain of events that ends in tragedy, providing, in Renoir’s words, a “dramatic fantasy” of a “a rich, complex society. . . dancing on a volcano.”