Sunday 13 August 2017

On Blu-ray - A Journey through Jacques Rivette's OUT 1 - Episode 5 ...and a short diversion towards Feuillade

Editor’s Note: Click on the links for previous entries for episode 1,  episode 2 Episode 3 and episode 4 .

Cinquième episode (Episode 5) is titled "From Colin to Pauline".

Bulle Ogier as 'Emilie', Out 1
It’s getting complicated. Bulle Ogier is playing a character with two names, one she is known by at her shop the other her name at her upper middle class home, very elegant, and where a nanny looks after her children. I find myself consulting this site on Wikipedia just to get all the character ducks in line. I find there that the chess player incarnated by Jacques Doniol-Valcroze is Etienne and is one of the Treize. So is the Pauline/Emilie character played by Ogier. But this doesn’t get us to many grips with what’s on the screen.  As a friend once said, I’ve found a rope but I am yet to know the ropes. But…but…mere knowledge that the conspiratorial secret society called and made up of the Treize doesn’t seem hardly enough. What is it they are conspiring about. Etienne’s only sightings are of wealth and comfort and a languid interest in solo chess.

As well, the pace is quickening. I haven’t been keeping a David Bordwell shot clocker throughout the film but my impression is that the scenes are shortening, the action is starting to tumble over shots and moments very quickly. The need to gather up in each episode all the characters and start to toss them up against each other has taken over. In the Cinquième Episode, two new characters are introduced yet again in most perfunctory manners. In one scene Bulle Ogier meets a man, credited only as “un rencontre de Pauline”, clearly an old acquaintance, while dropping off her kids. There is much pleasure at the reunion on display and promises to meet again. But no telephone numbers or addresses exchanged. Is this a mislead or a script defect. Wait and see. Similarly, from an entirely different class and culture, the actress Lili, leader of the first Prometheus production troupe is also a member but for what…

And there is the most devastating plot development so far. Quentin, an actor in the first troupe, that performing “Seven Against Thebes”, turns up late for rehearsal which is being supervised by the newly-arrived Renaud, and announces he has won a million francs backing three winners at the races. While celebrations commence, Renaud promptly steals the winning ticket and disappears.

The members of the troupe are morose and reduced to eating spaghetti without any sauce. Provoked by Quentin’s son Max they have a light bulb moment. They will search for Renaud in the streets. There is some method in their madness. They will first ask the newspaper stand proprietors at the seven end of the line stations if he has been noticed.

Leaud and curious passer by, Out 1
Here we might usefully digress to contemplate the way Rivette films at least some of these scenes in the streets clearly without any supervision of passers by. The camera, in the same manner as that of Feuillade some fifty plus years before, is oblivious to the stares. When I mentioned this in a Facebook post it prompted some comment that I should share.

First David Hare wrote in response to Episode 4: Further to this are tv series and miniseries from film artists like Lynch and even Bruno Dumont now, harking back all the way to the beginning and Feuillade? Rivette surely references him (although I cannot think where.)

I answered: I am mulling this over myself. One common factor is the way Rivette films Berto and Leaud in the Paris streets. Clearly there were no Assistant Directors shepherding extras through the scene in the background. People stop and stare at the camera in the same way as they did in Feuillade's serials. They of course, or at least the four most famous ones, were all about conspiracies, disguises, letters that go astray etc. Feuillade captured the look of Paris at a very specific time just as Rivette does.

Kiki Fung added suspense: Without giving a spoiler, the characterisation of Berto in the last episode draws references from Feuillade's. There is a more specific reference but let's talk about it when you finish.

Lucie de Graff (Francoise Fabian), Frédérique (Juliet Berto)
on the roof of the Moulin Rouge, Out 1
OK…. Picking up the thread. Frederique (Juliet Berto) now has the letters and is trying to make a profit from them. She visits Emilie (Bulle Ogier) at her home and has changed her appearance. She is now sporting a short black wig/haircut and her face looks even more sallow by contrast. Emilie pays her off. She still has more letters and we discover that some are from Lucie de Graff (Francoise Fabian), the lawyer who spoke to Lili in her car at the end of Episode 2. In a meeting on the roof of the Moulin Rouge (Rivette seems to love doing scenes on the top of buildings.
Paris Nous Appartient
You can go all the way back to Paris Nous Appartient (1961) and find a similar predilection. No doubt nightmares for the camera crews.) Lucie calls Frederique’s bluff over money and walks off with the letters.

Colin (Jean-Pierre Leaud), Pauline/Emilie (Bulle Ogier)
Out 1
Meanwhile Colin (Jean-Pierre Leaud) is continuing his efforts to hit on Pauline/Emilie at her shop. She finds him resistible and who wouldn’t. Colin’s technique is manifestly ordinary, utterly insincere. Maybe its me. I’ve had a problem accepting Leaud as a very convincing actor for quite a long time. I make an exception for Jean Eustache’s La Maman et la Putain (1973) but not for much else after Les 400 Coups (Francois Truffaut, 1959). The embarrassment Pauline is feeling is relieved when up pops Sarah (Bernadette Lafont) who has a secret conversation with Pauline. Sarah leaves and Colin follows her.

End… so far. We are at the point of identifying quite a few of the members of the Treize. We are at a loss to know what they are conspiring about. I’m wondering if we ever will for it seems Rivette’s interest may be merely in the mechanics of membership rather than its purpose.


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