An essay written for Toronto’s Cinematheque Ontario program guide (February 2007). –- J.R.
For better and for worse, and principally the latter, Jacques Rivette has been singled out as the former Cahiers du Cinema film critic who makes the least commercial films, as well as the longest ones. But for the record, the films of the always-neglected Luc Moullet [screened in Cinematheque Ontario’s Spring 2006 season –- ed.] are generally less commercial than those of Rivette. And even what we mean when we say “longest films” is open to some debate. (After all, the over twelve-hour OUT 1: NOLI ME TANGERE was conceived as a TV serial, and Jean-Luc Godard’s own first TV series, made a few years later, was just as long.)
The problem with such caricatures is they generally function as excuses for why some spectators won’t deal with Rivette’s films rather than as viable descriptions of what they offer. Yes, his features tend to be long and they work with duration. Furthermore, when two versions have been made of some of them –- unauthorized in the case of L’AMOUR FOU, authorized in the cases of L’AMOUR PAR TERRE and LA BELLE NOISEUSE/ DIVERTIMENTO – the longer version is almost always superior.… Read more »