La rose dans le caniveau: Magic in the streets of Paris
Andreas Volkert

When Jacques Rivette shot Le Pont du Nord his limited budget forced him to shoot it entirely in the streets of Paris and with existing light. There are no interior shots, there is no artificial lighting, there are no studio shots, no built sets. As such the mysterious story of two women who take on the hidden powers that control society and life in the city is a story of the city itself. The streets, buildings, squares, parks and statues become characters in their own right. They provide shelter, watch over Marie and Baptiste but also seem to spy on them. The finale in which the relationship between the main characters unravels and Marie is killed takes place in front of huge buildings being demolished in the La Vilette area on the north eastern edge of the city of Paris.

The passing of time has added another dimension to the movie: It can now be seen as a portrait of Paris as it once was. In 2006 -- 25 years after the movie was made -- I started to try and identify all of the locations in which the movie was shot. In 2006 and 2007 I visited several of the locations and took photos of the spots as they appear today. Some scenes were shot in well-known places, some in backstreets that are almost impossible to identify today. Some locations remain virtually unchanged, some were in a process of major remodelling during the shooting of the film, some have disappeared completely. In addition to documenting urban renewal and change the new photos also reveal how Jacques Rivette and his cameraman created magic in the streets of Paris. From fields of rubble to the Arc de Triomphe and back they managed to present the city and their heroines Bulle and Pascale Ogier as never before and never again since.

Location 1

Location 2

Location 4

Location 5-1
Location 5-2
Location 5-3


Location 3

Screen captures from a VHS copy of Le Pont du Nord, taped off of German television c. 1985. Original photographs taken May, 2006 and September/October, 2007 by Andreas Volkert, copyright Andreas Volkert.