March 4–April 1, 2024

Dangerous Games: Jacques Rivette × 4

Rivette knows the cinema much better than I [do].”

Jean-Luc Godard

Since his death in 2016, restoration work on Jacques Rivette’s filmography has outpaced any other artist who debuted as part of the French New Wave. This news would shock the director’s early supporters who, faced with his films’ resolutely anti-commercial runtimes and their brave alchemical transmutation of classic literature, modern theatre, and cinema of all eras, saw each new Rivette film, masterpiece though it may be, go predictably undistributed in North America.

The Cinematheque last offered a nearly full retrospective in 2007, while the full 13-hour version of Out 1 screened here in 2016. Out of the many riches of these most recent restorations, we’ve chosen to begin with the newly re-released L’amour fou, a film thought nearly impossible to restore as the original negative was destroyed in a fire in the 1970s. We’re presenting that transformative work alongside a selection showcasing Rivette’s key collaborations with the actor Bulle Ogier, from her film acting debut in L’amour fou (1969) to perhaps her finest moments in The Gang of Four (1989).

To watch a performance in a Rivette film is to participate in the stone-by-stone creation of a world. His fractal vision of Paris constitutes a place like no other, one traversed via a space-and-time-rending approach to montage, through which we see the shattering breakthroughs and shadowy dead-ends borne out by acting, in life and on the stage. In these four films, one can witness Ogier defy almost any limits to the roles she inhabits: an outcast partner in L’amour fou, an ensnared actor in Céline and Julie, an ex-prisoner in La Pont du Nord, and, finally, a theatre director in The Gang of Four. Consider the connections and doublings among these roles one path through the labyrinths of Rivette’s cinema, a place still awaiting full rediscovery.

We are all rehearsing parts of which we are as yet unaware (our roles). We slip into characters which we do not master (our attitudes and postures). We serve a conspiracy of which we are completely oblivious (our masks). This is Rivette’s vision of the world, it is uniquely his own … Rivette [is] one of the most inspired auteurs in cinema, and one of its great poets.”

Gilles Deleuze, Cahiers du cinéma

Rivette’s characters are always searching beyond [the mortal world], at whatever cost to their stability … Rivette’s primary motifs [are] conspiracy and theater … They aren’t separate or opposed, but facets of the same central structure, windows into the Other Place.”

B. Kite, Cinema Scope

List of Programmed Films

Date Film Title Director(s) Year Country
2024-Mar Céline and Julie Go Boating Jacques Rivette 1974 France
2024-Mar The Gang of Four Jacques Rivette 1989 France . . .
2024-Mar L’amour fou Jacques Rivette 1969 France
2024-Mar Le Pont du Nord Jacques Rivette 1981 France