Quotes of quotes of quotes of quotes, 10/20

I just can’t help myself: Jacques Rivette is a one-man cinematic goldmine. Today’s quote is taken from an interview in a book I’ve never read, Jacques Rivette: L’art secret (the interview, which was conducted in 2007, is also available in English here).

For someone so closely associated with les politiques des auteurs, Rivette comes off as being peculiarly anti-auteurist in the excerpt below. Maybe it took him 50 years to understand, or maybe he understood all along: qui peut dire? Indeed, of all the Cahiers-critics-turned-New-Wave-whiz-kids, who relied as heavily on the magic of collaboration as Rivette? I’m in the middle of watching La belle noiseuse, and it’s absolutely mesmerizing. Time seems to vanish at some point after the film’s first 30 minutes. Is this phenomenon a product of Rivette’s masterful direction? Yes, partly. But what about Jane Birkin’s storehouse-of-painful-secrets gimmick? What about Michel Piccoli’s petrified-landmine swagger? What about Emanuelle Béart’s ceaseless striving to become the blood-and-flesh embodiment of the film’s irresistible title? What about Bernard Dufour’s hypnotic hands, trying like hell to fit a square into a circle? Survey says: It’s all essential.

I detest the formulation “a film by”. A film is always at least fifteen people. I don’t like “réalisation” very much either, which seems to me very portentous, maybe because its root is “reality.” Mise en scène is a rapport with the actors, and the communal work is set with the first shot. What’s important for me in a film is that it be alive, that it be imbued with presence, which is basically the same thing. And that this presence, inscribed within the film, possesses a form of magic. There’s something profoundly mysterious in this. It’s an alchemy that one procures, or does not. Early in the shoot, anything’s still possible, but once you’ve made two or three steps, already you have to follow the course that the film has taken. But that’s what’s interesting. It’s a collective work, but one wherein there’s a secret, too. For that matter, the actor has his secrets as well—of which the director is the spectator.


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