Monday 7 August 2017

On Blu-ray - A Journey through Jacques Rivette's OUT 1 - Episode 4 and a declaration about Hermine Karagheuz

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

Episode 4 is titled "From Sarah to Colin".

Thomas (Michel Lonsdale) & Sarah (Bernadette Lafont)
The episode opens with a long and romantic walk along the beach at the front of Sarah’s grand if oddly shaped house. Thomas spends a lot of time cajoling her back to Paris on the basis that it will be good for her and he’ll look after her and decides he will call her Madame La Treize.

Meanwhile the other acting troupe lead by Lili introduces a new member Renaud who seems rather more physically skilled than the others but whose presence causes arguments and dissension. One of the members embarks on an exercise to separate body and voice but Renaud ruins it.

Thomas’s group meanwhile has Sarah as an observer. The long exercise they participate in during this episode involves five of the members lying prone, eyes shut, with their arms crossing while the other male member gives them instructions seemingly about how to think about/through the play. (During some of the cutaway shots to Sarah impassively observing there is a hair in the gate.)

Did anyone ever sit down and discuss with Jacques Rivette his fascination for observing and filming the creation of modern theatre productions using classical texts as their departure point for physical, aural and verbal improvisations? If there are interviews with the great man on this subject I would love to be informed of them. It seems to me, beyond being something where the director is fascinated by the spectacle of rehearsing actors, Rivette may be trying to chronicle the process of (theatre) creation whereby otherwise ordinary people are impelled into situations of physical and mental duress to create an image, a moment, some ‘meaning’. In this episode while Sarah (Bernadette Lafont) observes rehearsals and preparations, when she mentions she doesn’t have a copy of the text, she’s told she doesn’t need it.

Once I posted that comment, serious cinephile Kiki Fung posted a note on my Facebook page thus: Jonathan Rosenbaum's Rivette site has a collection of interviews. Rivette did discuss his process and preferences at length. His obesession for theatre started in his very first film PARIS BELONGS TO US but it was in L'AMOUR FOU then OUT 1 that he took his experiments to extreme (and then things become much easier to digest in what was to follow: CELINE AND JULIE GO BOATING). The exploration on the correlation between theatre and cinema has become a recurring almost all of his films. A famous quote "“all films are about the theatre, there is no other subject….If you take a subject which deals with the theatre to any extent at all, you’re dealing with the truth of the cinema…because that is the subject of truth and lies”. I think he was fascinated by the magic of the creative process, the mysterious aspect of performing, of people working together, getting caught up in a collaborative work.

Bruce Hodsdon has also commented:  Isn't Rivette anticipating something of the role of Showteller in long form tv drama? Instead an evolving script he takes up classic theatre texts and the writers' room becomes the actors' room?

Colin (Jean-Pierre Leaud) & Emilie (Bulle Ogier)
Meanwhile…Colin (Leaud) is tossed off the premises of a newspaper. The event is shown three times from different angles. Chaplin or Keaton would have invented three different and probably very acrobatic pratfalls but nothing similar occurs. Colin fetches up back at L'Angle du Hasard where the group discussing the newspaper breaks up leaving Colin alone with the delectable Emilie (Bulle Ogier). You sense he’s going to try and hit on her but she parries any advance when he asks to ask questions by saying she’ll allow him three. He asks if he’s a member of the Treize. He asks if she’s a member of the Treize and reserves his right to ask the third question later. There is one funny moment. Ogier takes Colin’s hand and says “Et main tenant…’ Even I got it! Her answer to the second question is to say: “The Thirteen comes back. It’s still the first and always the only one.” Enigmatic. Then Lili from the first theatre troupe comes in and takes Emilie away. A look is exchanged between them as she departs.

Marie (Hermine Karagheuz, middle)
Now, having given away my view of Bulle Ogier as scrumptious beauty, I have to say that the face and person that captures me most is one of the members of Lili’s troupe, Marie played by Hermine Karagheuz. I don’t think I’ve noticed her before on film though I think she later appeared in one of the films made by Rivette in his “Scenes de la vie parallele” series which are part of the Arrow Blu-ray set of Rivette's work that I've been given. She has long hair which she wears in flaxen ringlets and is by all my standards drop dead gorgeous.

But I digress….

Meanwhile Frederique continues her perambulations around Paris and comes across a man (Jacques Doniol-Valcroze) playing chess by himself. She senses money. He senses sex and offers to teach her to play chess, one of the most sure-fire methods of seduction known to man. While he gets her a drink she rifles through his nearby desk after breaking a lock and purloins a set of letters.

Frederique (Juliet Berto)
Later back in her room Berto reads the letters, some signed Igor, and notices the name Pierre recurring.

Thomas pays a visit to Emilie and her children but from the way he moves he has some sort of secret affair going with the children’s nanny Iris. Questions are asked about Emilie's husband Igor.

In a way which we’ve come to accept as the pace of things, the series is starting to burrow more deeply into the Treize, starting first to identify members though they do include characters we have yet to, or may never, see.

We’ve passed a slippery 1h46mins.


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