(aka 'Paris is Ours')
Though more amateurish in appearance than any of the other celebrated first features of the French New Wave (rivaled only by Eric Rohmer's Le signe du lion in low-rent production values), Jacques Rivette's troubled and troubling account of Parisians in the late 50s remains in some ways the most intellectually and philosophically mature of them as well as one of the most beautiful (1960). The specter of a world-wide conspiracy and impending apocalypse haunts the characters--an inquiring student, a group of actors staging a low-budget production of Pericles, various artists, an expatriate American in flight from McCarthyism--as the student goes on a quest to recover a tape of guitar music by a Spanish émigré who may or may not have committed suicide; echoes of everything from Kiss Me Deadly to the Tower of Babel sequence from Metropolis (quoted directly) inform her mysterious journey. Few films have been more effective in capturing a period and milieu than this one, which evokes the poetry and the potential dread of bohemian paranoia and sleepless nights in tiny one-room flats, along with the fragrant, youthful idealism and utopian dreams conveyed by the film's title (which is countered by the opening epigraph from Charles Peguy: "Paris belongs to no one"). Rivette himself--and friends and colleagues such as Jean-Luc Godard, Claude Chabrol, and Jacques Demy--make memorable cameo appearances...
Anne, a student in Paris,
becomes involved with a group of her brother's arty friends and gets sucked
into a mystery involving Philip, an expatriate American escaping
McCarthyism; Terry, a self-destructive femme fatale; theatre director Gérard;
and Juan, a Spanish activist who apparently committed suicide, but was he
murdered? Philip warns Anne that the forces that killed Juan will soon do
the same to Gérard, who is struggling to rehearse Shakespeare's Pericles.
Anne takes a part in the play in an attempt to help him and also discover
why Juan died.
Jacques Rivette started making his first feature in 1957 and completed it slowly over a period of two years, as money allowed. Finally released in 1961, Paris nous appartient brilliantly captured the mood of paranoia and uncertainty of that Cold War period. Rivette's rarely seen debut is one of the most important and far-reaching of the early New Wave films.
Rivette's disquieting film, suffused with sexual and political tension, is as much about its setting – a long-vanished Paris full of fleabag hotels and corduroy-clad intellectuals – as about its story. It features guest appearances from fellow New Waver directors Claude Chabrol, Jean-Luc Godard and Jacques Demy, a striking musique concrète score, and stunning cinematography in black and white, which manages to be luminous and ominous at the same time.
Theatrical Release: November 1960
DVD Review: BFI Video - Region 2 - PAL
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|Distribution||BFI Video - Region 2 - PAL|
Average Bitrate: 5.81 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s
NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.
|Audio||French (Dolby Digital 2.0)|
filmed introduction by Jonathan Romney on Rivette and Paris nous
Following the release of a new print by BFI Distribution in April, during the NFT's major Rivette retrospective, BFI Video released Paris nous appartient on DVD - the remarkable first feature from the great cinematic visionary and probably least known of the major French New Wave directors - Jacques Rivette.
The image looks very good. Progressive, great contrast and quite sharp. Damage is almost non-existent. I did see some strange cue-blip markers (see last capture) but they are only for a frame or two. I think it looks superior to Celine and Julie Go Boating - released in tandem with this DVD.
Extras include another introduction by Jonathan Romney discussing Rivette and Paris nous appartient, a 1957 Rivette 27 minute short called Le Coup du berger and a wonderful illustrated booklet with a review by Tom Milne; feature by Louis Marcorelles, originally published in Sight & Sound and a director biography.
I really enjoyed this film and have a much better grasp on Rivette than I ever have had in the past, but still he remains quite elusive. I hope BFI offers more of his work on DVD soon.