Jacques Rivette (1 March 1928 – 29 January 2016)
Idiosyncratic, pioneering, challenging, fascinating, obscurist – François Truffaut once said of Jacques Rivette that the French New Wave began “thanks to Rivette”, and while that may be true, the fact is that Rivette had an uneasy relationship with the French movie industry, and despite an extraordinary talent as a director, never achieved the success of his contemporaries, well-known names such as Truffaut, Claude Chabrol, Éric Rohmer and Jean-Luc Godard. He made long (sometimes very long) movies – Out 1 (1971) runs to nearly thirteen hours in its original version – and constructed them in such a way that audience attention was of supreme importance; complex story structures and innovative story-telling techniques made his movies look and sound unique.
Despite a career that began in 1949 with the short, Aux quatre coins, Rivette faced challenges that would have kept many directors from continuing their careers at all. While he made a steady stream of movies over the ensuing years, he encountered so many obstacles and setbacks that his perseverance is a testament to both his personal tenacity and his talent (in particular, a four-picture deal made in 1976 was never completed due to the poor reception of the first two movies). He wasn’t an instinctively commercial moviemaker, but he was influential in his own way, and his movies reflect an approach and an attitude about the boundaries attached to modern movies that should be applauded rather than dismissed. Watch any of his movies and you’ll find the work of a true artist, a moviemaker whose intelligence, wit and liveliness shone through with a clear-sighted consistency – even if he was doing his best to baffle his audiences at the same time.
1 – Paris Belongs to Us (1961)
2 – The Nun (1966)
3 – L’amour fou (1969)
4 – Out 1 (1971)
5 – Celine and Julie Go Boating (1974)
6 – Le Pont du Nord (1981)
7 – Merry-Go-Round (1981)
8 – Gang of Four (1989)
9 – La belle noiseuse (1991)
10 – The Story of Marie and Julien (2003)