Jacques Rivette (March 1, 1928 – January 29, 2016) was a French film director and film critic most commonly associated with the French New Wave (which also included Claude Chabrol, Jacques Demy, Jean-Luc Godard, Louis Malle, Chris Marker, Jean-Pierre Melville, Alain Resnais, Éric Rhomer, Agnès Varda, and François Truffaut) and the film magazine Cahiers du Cinéma. He made twenty-nine films, including L’amour fou (1969), Out 1 (1971), Celine and Julie Go Boating (1974), and La Belle Noiseuse (1991). His work is noted for its improvisation, loose narratives, and lengthy running times.
Inspired by Jean Cocteau to become a filmmaker, Rivette shot his first short film at age twenty. He moved to Paris to pursue his career, frequenting Henri Langlois’ Cinémathèque Française and other ciné-clubs; there, he met Truffaut, Godard, Rohmer, Chabrol and other future members of the New Wave. Rivette began writing film criticism, and was hired by André Bazin for Cahiers du Cinéma in 1953. In his criticism, he expressed an admiration for American films – especially those of genre directors such as John Ford, Alfred Hitchcock and Nicholas Ray – and was deeply critical of mainstream French cinema. Rivette’s articles, admired by his peers, were considered the magazine’s best and most aggressive writings, particularly his 1961 article “On Abjection” and his influential series of interviews with film directors co-written with Truffaut. He continued making short films, including Le Coup de Berger, which is often cited as the first New Wave film. Truffaut later credited Rivette with developing the movement.
Although he was the first New Wave director to begin work on a feature film, Paris Belongs to Us was not released until 1961, by which time Chabrol, Truffaut and Godard released their own first features and popularised the movement worldwide. Rivette became editor of Cahiers du Cinéma during the early 1960s and publicly fought French censorship of his second feature film, The Nun (1966). He then re-evaluated his career, developing a unique cinematic style with L’amour fou. Influenced by the political turmoil of May 68, improvisational theatre and an in-depth interview with filmmaker Jean Renoir, Rivette began working with large groups of actors on character development and allowing events to unfold on camera. This technique led to the thirteen-hour Out 1 which, although rarely screened, is considered a Holy Grail of cinephiles. His films of the 1970s, such as Celine and Julie Go Boating, often incorporated fantasy and were better-regarded. After attempting to make four consecutive films, however, Rivette had a nervous breakdown and his career slowed for several years.
During the early 1980s, he began a business partnership with producer Martine Marignac, who produced all his subsequent films. Rivette’s output increased from then on, and his film La Belle Noiseuse received international praise. He retired after completing Around a Small Mountain (2009), and it was revealed three years later that he had Alzheimer’s disease. Very private about his personal life, Rivette was briefly married to photographer and screenwriter Marilù Parolini during the early 1960s and later married Véronique Manniez.
Each review will be linked to the title below.
(*seen originally in theaters)
(**seen rereleased in theaters)
- At the Four Corners (1949) – aka Aux quatre coins – short
- The Quadrille (1950) – aka Le quadrille – short
- The Diversion (1952) – aka Le divertissement – short
- Fool’s Mate (1956) – aka Le Coup du berger – short
- Paris Belongs to Us (1961) – aka Paris nous appartient
- The Nun (1966) – aka La Religieuse
- Mad Love (1969) – aka L’Amour fou
- Out 1: Don’t Touch Me (1971) – aka Out 1: Noli me tangere
- Out 1: Spectre (1974) – aka Out 1: Noli me tangere – shortened version of Out 1: Don’t Touch Me
- Celine and Julie Go Boating (1974) – aka Céline et Julie vont en bateau
- Try on the Assault (1974) – Essai sur l’agression – short
- Birth and Mount of Prometheus (1974) – aka Naissance et mort de Prométhée
- Duelle (1976) – aka Duelle (une quarantaine)
- Noroît (1976) – aka Noroît (une vengeance) – not theatrically released
- Merry-Go-Round (1980)
- Le Pont du Nord (1981)
- Paris Goes Away (1981) – aka Paris s’en va – short
- Love on the Ground (1984) – aka L’amour par terre
- Wuthering Heights (1985) – aka Hurlevent
- Gang of Four (1989) – aka La Bande des quatre
- The Beautiful Troublemaker (1991) – aka La Belle Noiseuse
- Joan the Maiden (1994) – aka Jeanne la pucelle – released in 2 parts as Joan the Maid, Part 1: The Battles (Les Batailles) and Joan the Maid, Part 2: The Prisons (Les Prisons)
- Up, Down, Fragile (1995) – aka Haut bas fragile
- Lumière and Company (1995) – directed with Merzak Allouache, Gabriel Axel, Vicente Aranda, Theo Angelopoulos, Bigas Luna, John Boorman, Youssef Chahine, Alain Corneau, Costa-Gavras, Raymond Depardon, Francis Girod, Peter Greenaway, Lasse Hallström, Michael Haneke, Hugh Hudson, Gaston Kaboré, Abbas Kiarostami, Cédric Klapisch, Andrei Konchalovsky, Patrice Leconte, Spike Lee, Claude Lelouch, David Lynch, Merchant Ivory, Claude Miller, Sarah Moon, Idrissa Ouedraogo, Arthur Penn, Lucian Pintilie, Helma Sanders-Brahms, Jerry Schatzberg, Nadine Trintignant, Fernando Trueba, Liv Ullmann, Yoshishige Yoshida, Jaco Van Dormael, Régis Wargnier, Wim Wenders, & Zhang Yimou – anthology
- Top Secret (1998) – aka Secret défense
- Who Knows? (2001) – aka Va savoir
- The Story of Marie and Julien (2003) – aka Histoire de Marie et Julien
- The Duchess of Langeais (2007) – aka Ne touchez pas la hache
- Around a Small Mountain (2009) – 36 vues du Pic Saint-Loup