Jacques Rivette (French: [ʒak ʁivɛt]; 1 March 1928 – 29 January 2016) was a French film director and film critic most commonly associated with the French New Wave and Cahiers du Cinéma. He has made twenty-eight films, including Le Coup de Berger, Paris Belongs to Us, L’amour fou, Out 1, Celine and Julie Go Boating, Le Pont du Nord, La Belle Noiseuse and Va savoir. Rivette, inspired by Jean Cocteau to become a filmmaker, shot his first short film at age twenty. He moved to Paris to pursue his career, frequenting Henri Langlois’ Cinémathèque Française and other ciné-clubs; there, he met François Truffaut, Jean-Luc Godard, Éric Rohmer, Claude Chabrol and other future members of the New Wave. Rivette began writing film criticism, and was hired by André Bazin for Cahiers du Cinéma in 1953. He expressed a critical admiration for American films, especially for those by genre directors such as John Ford, Alfred Hitchcock and Nicholas Ray, and was deeply critical of mainstream French cinema. Rivette’s articles, admired by his peers, were considered the magazine’s most aggressive and best-written. He continued making short films, including Le Coup de Berger (often cited as the first New Wave film), and Truffaut credited Rivette with developing the movement.
Although he was the first New Wave director to begin work on a feature film, Paris Belongs to Us was not released until 1961 (after Chabrol, Truffaut, Rohmer and Godard released their own first features and popularized the movement worldwide). Jacques Rivette became editor of Cahiers du Cinéma during the early 1960s and publicly fought French censorship of his second feature film, The Nun. He reevaluated his career, developing a unique cinematic style with L’amour fou. Influenced by the political turmoil of May 68, improvisational theater and an in-depth interview with filmmaker Jean Renoir, Rivette began working with large groups of actors on character development and allowing events to unfold on camera. This technique led to the thirteen-hour Out 1 which, although it has rarely been screened, is considered a cinephile’s Holy Grail. During the 1970s his films, such as Celine and Julie Go Boating, often incorporated fantasy and were better regarded. After attempting to make four consecutive films, Jacques Rivette had a nervous breakdown and his career slowed for several years.
During the early 1980s he began a business partnership with producer Martine Marignac, who has produced all his subsequent films. Rivette’s output increased, and his 1991 film La Belle Noiseuse received international praise. He retired after completing Around a Small Mountain in 2009, and three years later it was learned that he has Alzheimer’s disease. Very private about his personal life, Rivette was briefly married to photographer and screenwriter Marilù Parolini during the early 1960s and later married Véronique Rivette. His films, often improvised, have brief outlines instead of scripts, long running times and loose narratives. They explore themes such as conspiracy theories, fantasy and theatricality in daily life, frequently combining the paranoid, conspiratorial crime stories of films by Louis Feuillade and Fritz Lang with Renoir and Howard Hawks’ carefree characters. Rivette, known for his complex female characters, is considered an influence on the female buddy film. Jacques Rivette died on 29 January 2016 from complications of Alzheimer’s disease at the age of 87, in his home in Paris. He was memorialized by Francois Hollande as “one of the greatest filmmakers” and praised by Fleur Pellerin, Gilles Jacob and Anna Karina.
- March, 01, 1928
- Rouen, France
- January, 29, 2016
- Paris, France
Cause of Death
- Alzheimer's disease