Review by David Paul Hellings
The Jacques Rivette Collection brings together some of the director’s hardest to see works, each restored, newly translated and debuting on home video for the first time in UK.
Out 1 is one of the crowning achievements of Rivette’s remarkable career. Conceived as a television mini-series, this near-thirteen-hour monolith consists of eight feature-length episodes revolving around two theatre troupes, blackmail and conspiracy. Multiple characters introduce multiple plotlines, weaving a rich tapestry across an epic runtime.
Originally screened just the once in its full-length version in 1971, Out 1 was then re-conceived by Rivette as a four-and-a-half-hour feature and re-named Out 1: Spectre to acknowledge its shadow-like nature. Both are presented in this boxed-set, fully restored and with newly-translated English subtitles.
Complementing Out 1 are two ‘parallel films’, Duelle (une quarantaine) and Noroît (une vengeance). The former sees Rivette head into fantasy territory: the Queen of the Sun (Bulle Ogier) and the Queen of the Night (Juliet Berto) search for a magical diamond in present-day Paris. The latter is a loose adaptation of The Revenger’s Tragedy and a pirate tale, starring Geraldine Chaplin (Nashville, Cría cuervos). Also included is Merry-Go-Round, in which Joe Dallesandro (Flesh for Frankenstein) and Maria Schneider (The Passenger, Last Tango in Paris) are summoned to Paris, kickstarting the most surreal of all Rivette’s mysteries.
-via Arrow Video
Francois Truffaut allegedly claimed that without Jacques Rivette there would have been no Nouvelle Vague. Whether Jean-Luc Godard fully agreed with this belief, it’s hard to really know, but Rivette’s contribution to French cinema has been largely ignored and unfairly forgotten, only gaining increased recognition during the 1980s and 90s. The release of this superb box set of Rivette’s finest and most challenging work should go a long way to bringing his films to a new and unsuspecting audience. As well as the marathon “Out:1” is the four and a half hour “Out 1: Spectre”, which stands as one of the most interesting films of the period in terms of its experimental nature, and three films that saw Rivette investigating the world of fantasy.
Duelle (une quarantaine), sees the Queens of the Sun and the Night search for a magical diamond in contemporary Paris (Rivette always seems to retain a modern setting, even when dealing with fantasy or period outings). Duelle is pure Rivette. A film that has stylistic and performance elements that would surely have influenced later directors such as David Lynch, “Duelle” weaves its fantasy into its improvisational narrative with surprising and fascinating results. As with all of Rivette’s work, you have to somewhat surrender to the nature of his approach. Fans of Godard rather than Truffaut will appreciate Rivette’s vision, as will fans of indie fantasy.
Noroît (une vengeance), Rivette’s pirate tale and very loose version of “The Revenger’s Tragedy” again retains a contemporary setting and improvisational nature, but also the hallmarks of Rivette’s imagination (the ‘boarding of a ship’ scene is cleverly done and reminiscent of smart theatre) and how much he could achieve on a small budget.
Merry-go-Round, starring Paul Morrissey favourite Joe Dallesandro (“Blood for Dracula”, “Flesh for Frankenstein”) is a surrealist mystery that would again be interesting in a latter Lynchian setting and has the feel of Lynch’s earlier work such as “Blue Velvet”. Dallesandro and co-star Maria Schneider (she who would be ‘tortured’ by Brando during the shooting of “Last Tango in Paris”) will never be considered great actors, but both are enthusiastic and engaging to watch in Rivette’s search-for-answers film.
The restorations by Technicolor of all of the films in the box set are first class. Colours are pure and rich, whilst retaining the natural quality of the original prints. Images are sharp whilst keeping grain. This may be the best that this Rivette collection has looked since release.
Challenging and engaging by equal amount, this is a must-buy for Rivette fans and the inclusion of three of the director’s ventures into fantasy territory reflects how experimental Rivette was. Highly recommended.
- Limited Edition Blu-ray & DVD collection (3,000 copies)
- High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentation of all films from brand new 2K restorations of the films with Out 1 supervised by cinematographer Pierre-William Glenn
- Original mono audio (uncompressed PCM on the Blu-rays)
- Optional newly-translated English subtitles for all films
- The Mysteries of Paris: Jacques Rivette’s Out 1 Revisited – a brand-new feature length documentary by Robert Fischer and Wilfried Reichart containing interviews with actors Bulle Ogier, Michael Lonsdale and Hermine Karagheuz, cinematographer Pierre-William Glenn, assistant director Jean-François Stévenin and producer Stéphane Tchalgadjieff, as well as rare archival interviews with actors Jacques Doniol-Valcroze and Michel Delahaye, and director Jacques Rivette
- Scenes from a Parallel Life: Jacques Rivette Remembers – archive interview with the director, in which he discusses Duelle (une quarantaine), Noroît (une vengeance) and Merry-Go-Round, featuring additional statements from Bulle Ogier and Hermine Karagheuz
- Brand-new interview with critic Jonathan Rosenbaum, who reported from the sets of both Duelle (une quarantaine) and Noroît (une vengeance)
- Exclusive perfect-bound book containing new writing on the films by Mary M. Wiles, Brad Stevens, Ginette Vincendeau and Nick Pinkerton
This review originally appeared on SFFWorld at:
Jacques Rivette passed away on 29th January 2016.