Legendary French director Jacques Rivette has died aged 87. Best known for his involvement with the French New Wave, Rivette had a long career making his first feature, Paris nous appartient, in 1961 and releasing his last film, 36 vues du pic Saint-Loup or Around a Small Mountain, in 2009.
Born in Rouen in 1928, Rohmer got involved in film criticism and made a couple of short films in the early 1950s, joining the famous film journal Cahiers du cinéma in 1953. There he became part of a core of five critics made up of Jean-Luc Godard, François Truffaut, Éric Rohmer, Claude Chabrol, and himself, who emerged as the most recognisable names of and driving force behind the French New Wave. He worked as an Assistant Director to Jean Renoir on one film, and served as cinematographer on shorts by Rohmer and Truffaut before shooting Paris nous appartient from 1958 onwards. He took over as Editor of Cahiers du cinema from Rohmer in 1963 until 1965 when he made his second feature La Religieuse starring Anna Karina.
Rivette’s films are incredibly deep and rewarding
Of his earlier work, two films stand out as being the most recognisable of his oeuvre. Inspired by Balzac’s La Comédie humaine, Out 1 (1971) centres on the rehearsals of a play but connects many different narrative strands. Out 1 became something of a cult mystery since it is rarely ever exhibited due to its almost 13 hour long runtime, although there is an alternative 4 hour cut. Céline et Julie von ten bateau (1974) remains his best known work, mixing elements of comedy and mystery in a deeply literary fashion.
Rivette went on to make Duelle and Noroît in 1976 which were parts two and three of a four-part work that he never completed but did add Histoire de Marie et Julien in 2003 which he originally saw as the first part in 1975. His career was revitalised in 1991 with La Belle Noiseuse starring Michel Piccoli, Emmanuelle Beart and Jane Birkin about a painter whose creativity is revitalised by a young model.
Rivette’s films are often very lengthy but incredibly deep and rewarding and I cannot do justice to them here. His work speaks for itself and he remains an influential figure in the history of cinema. He will be missed by a worldwide community of film-lovers.