Sunday 20 August 2017

On Blu-ray - A Journey through Jacques Rivette's OUT 1 - Episode 6 ...members of the Treize become known

For some Jacques Rivette occupies a near mystical place in the Pantheon, a director who can do no wrong, whose experiments in narrative warrant analysis that flies into the ether on wings of hyperbole rarely equaled:
“…..As performance and imitation of life spill out onto the Parisian streets, we are invited to consider the symmetrical resonances generated by a process of indefinitely expanding initially confined spaces. The inverted pose of the plough can thus be seen as the mechanical dispositive which sets in motion the narrative structure of a film which has no real beginning or ending……

“……It is through their preparatory steps into performance that Myth and Happenings make a historical and meta-historical connection, marking out the figures of contingency and fate.”

What can I say? I guess you can say if you say so. These words appear in a note published on Out 1 in Senses of Cinema No. 79 in July 2016. I do however note that there is much writing about Rivette which tackles his films in ways that don’t leap out at me during the course of watching Out 1. You can find the note, in a piece entitled “Jacques Rivette’s Out 1: From First to Last” by Donatella Valente, and more here.

Meanwhile back in the world of the Sixième Episode, those ‘preparatory steps into performance’ are still being undertaken by the group lead by Thomas (Michel Lonsdale) while the other group is off searching for the thief Renaud. The search takes some bizarre forms most notably when the racetrack winner Quentin starts marking out territories as if he has some secret map in his mind.

Thomas (Michel Lonsdale), Etienne (Jacques Doniol-Valcroze)
There is far more time in this episode devoted to several conversations with members of the Treize, the secret society whose meetings or activity have been abandoned. We know now that Thomas (Michel Lonsdale) is a member. In what may be the central conversation of the Episode, Thomas  and the very dapper Etienne (Jacques Doniol-Valcroze) have a long chat on the riverbank about the group. Thomas has been spooked by an interview he gives to Colin (Jean-Pierre Leaud) who is posing as a journalist in order to penetrate into the Treize. Colin’s only information however is Balzac’s rather ancient tome.

Thomas and Etienne’s discussion concerns the old and dormant group’s mechanics. Mention is made of other members, seen and unseen, notably Pierre and Igor, the absent husband of Pauline/Emilie. Thomas wants to get the group together again “pour la nostalgie d’une activité”. He sees such a gathering as (the subtitles say) “a way for us to commit without knowing the ultimate goal.” Yeah, well. Mention is also made of ‘the fact of being a suspect creates the crime”.

Episode Six is rather action-packed compared to its predecessors. There are three telling conversations and some action. Lili takes Pauline aside and mentions that someone is coming to pick something up. If she thinks she is being fooled she will give a sign. A young man appears saying he has been sent by ‘Lorenzo’, not a character we are familiar with. He is then unceremoniously mugged by Pauline and Lili and his body hidden in the cellar of L’Angle du Hasard. The envoy is played by the film’s producer Stephane Tchalgadjieff and one wonders whether there’s one of those little New Wave jokes in here about the need to kill film producers.

Pauline (Bulle Ogier), Colin (Jean-Pierre Leaud)
We lose sight of Colin (Jean-Pierre Leaud) at some point when he attempts to follow Pauline after she has rebuffed his amourous advances. He literally comes up against a wall but of the kind made fashionable loing ago by Marcel Marceau where its mimed and his hands strike flat at thin air.

Frédèrique on the other hand has become quite intoxicated by her discoveries about the secret society. She has a long conversation with Warok (Jean Bouise), seen once before saying hello to Pauline when they meet by chance and promise to catch up. Warok is a mine of information about cults and secret societies and treats her with bemusement. She suggests they forma secret society and he logically asks. “To do what?” The answer is all about power and money which is the closest we have got so far as to why the Treize might exist or might reconvene after being in abeyance for a couple of years.

Marie (Hermine Karagheuz)
There are other distractions. Thomas and two of the actresses Sarah and Beatrice have what seems to be discreetly represented as a threesome. The other group breaks up though there is a long sequence when Marie (played as I mentioned earlier by the gorgeous Hermine Karagheuz) randomly accosts drivers in traffic asking if they have seen the thief Renaud. They haven’t but we have. He’s alone in a café with a big basket of croissants and is disturbed by Frédèrique whose gay friend has confessed his infatuation for him.

Meanwhile Lili has gone to the beach…

Things are getting quite action-packed but I’m not in the camp that finds all this activity mesmerisingly poetic or mesmerisingly reflective of a moment in French history and culture forever captured.  I’m starting to get on the side of the bureaucrats at the French TV station who decided that this was all too esoteric for national TV. They of course began the process of creating the film’s legend.

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