It seems safe to say that we’re currently experiencing a remarkable resurgence of interest in Jacques Rivette; long the most mysterious of all the Nouvelle Vague directors, as well as the least frequently distributed, cinephiles had to rely on old VHS tapes, bootlegs, and the enthusiastic writings of a few dedicated critics to construct an idea of his tantalizingly just-out-of-reach oeuvre. It’s almost fitting that Rivette’s work would exist as a kind of specter or phantom, haunting our collective imaginations. But gradually, Rivette’s work has become more and more available, each release requiring a reconfiguring of the whole. Indeed, no major filmmaker revisits the idea of “phases” or “periods” more than Rivette. Each work exists in tandem with the others, exploring various threads and tangents that all orbit a few key central obsessions. As Jonathan Rosenbaum has stated, “Every Rivette film has its Eisenstein/Lang/Hitchcock side — an impulse to design and plot, dominate and control — and its Renoir/Hawks/Rossellini side: an impulse to ‘let things go,’ open one’s self up to the play and power of other personalities, and watch what happens.”
Part of Kicking the Canon — The Film Canon.
Published as part of InRO Weekly — Volume 1, Issue 9.