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The Labyrinth of Mystery Jacques Rivette

Revered amongst his peers and widely admired by critics and cinephiles, French director Jacques Rivette (1928-2016) […] Read more

Revered amongst his peers and widely admired by critics and cinephiles, French director Jacques Rivette (1928-2016) is well known for his historical association with the French New Wave. Yet, his six-decade career not only honed the ideas he espoused as a film critic, but also continued to challenge such questions of engagement, authenticity and improvisation in his filmmaking practice. From his first short films in the 1950s, to his last feature film in 2009, Rivette’s oeuvre testifies to his interest in experimentation and exploring alternative ways in which films can be conceived and produced.

Like his contemporaries, Rivette first frequented film screenings in post-war Paris and began collaborating with fellow cinephiles in film criticism. He began writing in the short-lived Gazette du Cinéma before becoming a writer and later the editor-in chief for Cahiers du Cinéma, in which he conducted key interviews with directors such as Hawks, Hitchcock, Welles and Renoir.

Rivette’s concurrent engagement in watching, making and writing about films during the 1950s and 60s contributed synergistically to his ability to elaborate upon what he deemed as “the truth of the cinema” – an idea which he pursued in some of his most well-cited articles as well as films such as Paris Belongs to Us (1961), L’Amour Fou (1969) and Celine and Julie Go Boating (1974). Inspired by Renoir, Rivette exercises “a cinema which does not impose anything…where the act of filming is part of the film itself.” To wit, he frequently collaborated with actors to make films virtually without a traditional script, relying on improvisation and chance in capturing long takes, unrehearsed lines and movements. Many consider his cult 13-hour film, Out 1 (1971), as the culmination of his experimentation with theatricality and long-running cinema.

Cine Fan takes this opportunity to present a film by Rivette every month as a tribute to him and his fascinating body of work.

Further reading:

Jacques Rivette – The New Biographical Dictionary of Film by David Thomson, From The New Biographical Dictionary of Film by David Thomson (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2002)

Jacques Rivette_eng_The St James, From The St. James Film Directors Encyclopedia by Sarris, Andrew (Detroit: Visible Ink Press, 1998)

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