Renowned for his extensive improvisation, epic running times and play-within-a-film themes, Jacques Rivette was the most uncompromising and underappreciated filmmaker to emerge from the innovative French New Wave scene. Born in Rouen in 1928, Rivette drew early inspiration from the works of Jean Cocteau, and after shooting his first film, the short "Aux quatre coins" (1948), moved to Paris to immerse himself in the capital's cine-club culture. There he began to collaborate with a group of like-minded cinephiles, including Jean-Luc Godard and Francois Truffaut, who went onto revolutionize French film with an experimental form that was coined Nouvelle Vague. Rivette's first feature-length, "Paris Belongs to Us" (1957), set the tone for the rest of his filmography with its exploration of the theatrical world, but it would be another decade before a follow-up arrived. Instead, Rivette focused his efforts towards the stage, while also enjoying a two-year stint as editor of the hugely influential film publication Cahiers du Cinema. Rivette eventually resumed his film-making career with "The Nun" (1966), a controversial tale about a young woman's attempt to escape a sadistic convent, which was briefly banned due to pressure from the Catholic Church. The surrounding publicity gave Rivette his first and last genuine commercial hit as he ventured further into the avant-garde. "L'amour fou" (1969) was an entirely improvised piece of work which concluded with an hour-long argument between the two central characters, while the rarely-seen original cut of "Out 1" (1971) was a perplexing 13-hour epic which has since developed a reputation as the holy grail of cinema. The far more accessible "Celine and Julie Go Boating" (1974) then kickstarted a run of experimental fantasies including the noirish "Duelle" (1976) and pirate adventure "Noroit" (1976), but shortly before the latter's release, Rivette suffered a nervous breakdown which he took the rest of the decade to recover from. After returning with surreal mysteries "Le Pont du Nord" (1981) and "Merry-Go-Round" (1981), Rivette continued to blur the boundaries between reality and fiction with "Love on the Ground" (1984) and "The Gang of Four" (1988), and in a surprising move adapted Emily Bronte's novel "Wuthering Heights" (1985). Rivette's critical status peaked when "La belle noiseuse" (1991), the four-hour tale of a reclusive painter's creative rebirth, was awarded the Grand Jury Prize at Cannes. Rivette followed it up with historical epic "Jeanne la Pucelle" (1994), classic Hollywood musical homage "Up, Down, Fragile" (1995) and revenge tale "Secret Defense" (1998). Rivette proved to be just as creative in the 21st Century, with romantic farce "Va Savoir" (2001), the long-awaited supernatural drama "The Story of Marie and Julien" (2003) and the adaptation of Honore de Balzac's erotic novel, "The Duchess of Langeais" (2007) all receiving a positive response. Rivette ended his ever-intriguing career with the bittersweet romance "Around a Small Mountain" (2009), and died in 2016 from complications of Alzheimer's disease, aged 87.
Director (Feature Film)
Assistant Direction (Feature Film)
Cast (Feature Film)
Writer (Feature Film)
Amatuer short film directing debut, "Aux quatre coins" (20 min, silent, 16 mm)
Made second short film, "Le quadrille" starring Godard
Began writing for CAHIERS DU CINEMA upon its founding, along with Godard, Chabrol et al.
Directed first 35mm film, "Le coup du berger" (28 min.)
Began shooting first feature, "Paris nous appartient/Paris Belongs to Us" (released 1961)
Served as editor-in-chief of Cahiers du Cinema
Completed the 13-hour film for French TV, "Out One"; film was never broadcast; the following year it was released in a four-hour version, edited down by Rivette
Made first two ("Duelle" and "Noroit") of planned four film series "Les filles du feu"; subsequent two films cancelled
Rewowrked footage shot for "La Belle Noiseuse" into another, considerably different, feature film, "Divertimento"
Helmed the French romantic comedy-drama, "Va savoir/Who Knows?"
Directed "Duchess of Langeais" starring Jeanne Balibar and Guillaume Depardieu