The French banned it. So did the Nazis. Then we dropped a bomb on it. Resurrected from the ashes of war in 1956, Jean Renoir's masterpiece makes it on to DVD against the odds.
It starts with a house party, wealthy acquaintances gathering at a country estate to hunt and make merry. But the weekend descends into a criss-cross of love and deceit, aristocrats and servants conspiring in a game where the rules cannot be relied upon any more than the players.
Farce fuses with tragedy, realism smudges against impressionism, theatre teeters into life... The impossible confusion of existence is absorbed with discreet brilliance by Renoir's deep-focus framing, sweeping camera tracks and elastic takes. This is cinema at its pinnacle: sublime humanism smiling through tears of frustrated sadness.