Publication Year: 2012
Published by: University of Illinois Press
Series: Contemporary Film Directors
Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
Preface and Acknowledgments
Cinema spent its earlier years distinguishing itself from theater: Jacques Rivette’s cinema paradoxically achieves renewal precisely through reference to different forms of theatricality. Academic discussions in the past have consistently situated Rivette on the periphery of the French New Wave movement, as his films have been...
Moving Backstage: The Films of Jacques Rivette
The Apprentice Years: Aux quatre coins, Le quadrille, Le divertissement, and Le coup du berger
In the spring of 1957, Jacques Rivette had just completed his first short 35 mm film, Le coup du berger (A Fool’s Mate; 1956), and was in the planning stages of his first feature, Paris nous appartient, while continuing to write incisive critical pieces for the Paris film journal Cahiers du cinéma. Not yet thirty years old, Rivette was...
From Shakespeare to Sartre: Paris nous appartient
Paris nous appartient (Paris Belongs to Us; 1961), a founding masterpiece of the New Wave, is about a university student, Anne Goupil (Betty Schneider), and a struggling Paris theater director, Gérard Lenz (Giani Esposito), who are rehearsing Shakespeare’s play, Pericles, Prince of Tyre. Their questionable commitment...
From the Literary Text to the Tableaux: La religieuse, Hurlevent, La belle noiseuse, and La belle noiseuse: Divertimento
In some sense, Rivette’s second feature film, Suzanne Simonin, la religieuse de Denis Diderot (The Nun; 1965–1966; released 1967) represents his refusal to adapt novel to film. He approaches the original artwork, Denis Diderot’s eighteenth-century epistolary novel, through the theater; his inaugural theatrical production...
A Revolution in Realism, Reflexivity, and Oneiric Reverie: Jean Renoir, L'amour fou, Out 1: Noli me tangere, and Out 1: Spectre
It was during the filming of the documentary Jean Renoir le patron (1966), which consisted of three programs for the fledgling television series “Cinéastes de notre temps” (cofounded in 1964 by the late Bazin’s wife, Janine Bazin, and Cahiers critic and filmmaker André S. Labarthe), that Rivette discovered a new vision...
Sounding Out the Operatic: Les filles du feu (Duelle and Noroit), Merry-Go-Round, and Le Pont du Nord
Rivette reconceptualized the notion of the film serial in the mid-1970s, when he conceived of Les filles du feu (Girls of Fire), a cycle of four films. He borrowed his film tetralogy’s title from Gérard de Nerval’s publication Les filles du feu in which the celebrated poem El Desdichado (The Disinherited) appeared in 1854. That Rivette...
Reenvisioning Genres: Haut bas fragile, Jeanne la pucelle, Secret defense, and Va savoir
An intoxicating excursion into genre filmmaking, Haut bas fragile (Up Down Fragile; 1995) chronicles the daily lives of three women, Louise, Ninon, and Ida, who live in Paris. Characterized as a “sleepwalker,” Louise (Marianne Denicourt) is recovering from an accident that left her in a coma; Ninon...
An Occult Theatricality: Celine et Julie vont en bateau: Phantom Ladies Over Paris, L'amour par terre, La bande des quatre, Histoire de Marie et Julien
An occult theatricality shapes the story of Céline et Julie vont en bateau— Phantom Ladies Over Paris (Céline and Julie Go Boating; 1974), a film whose commercial release coincided with the onset of post-’68 feminism. Rivette’s most well-known film among international audiences and critics, Céline et Julie enjoyed an immediate...
Returning, Departing: Ne touchez pas la hache and 36 vues du Pic Saint Loup
Rivette returns to the historical costume drama in his largely faithful adaptation of the second novella, La duchesse de Langeais (between Ferragus and La fille aux yeux d’or), of Balzac’s nineteenth-century trilogy, Histoire des treize (The Thirteen). As we recall, the prologue of The Thirteen had provided the impetus for...
An Interview with Jacques Rivette
JR: None of them. Yes. Two of them have some autobiographic aspects. It’s obvious. The first one, Paris nous appartient, and then, L’amour fou, where everything is transposed. I do remember that one of the reasons that I used Jean-Pierre Kalfon in L’amour fou was because he didn’t resemble me at all. Everything was...