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The Jacques Rivette Collection
SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.85:1 Widescreen
  • 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • 1.37:1 Standard
  • French Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono
  • French PCM Mono
  • English subtitles
  • 6 Discs
FEATURES
  • Scenes from a Parallel Life: Jacques Rivette Remembers - archive interview with the director, in which he discusses Duelle (une quarantaine), Noroît (une vengeance) and Merry-Go-Round
  • Remembering Duelle - Bulle Ogier and Hermine Karagheuz recollect their work on the 1976 feature
  • Interview with critic Jonathan Rosenbaum, who reported from the sets of both Duelle (une quarantaine) and Noroît (une vengeance)
  • Exclusive perfect-bound book containing writing on the films by Mary M. Wiles, Brad Stevens and Nick Pinkerton plus a reprint of four on-set reports from Duelle (une quarantaine) and Noroît (une vengeance)

The Jacques Rivette Collection

Dual-Format Edition
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Jacques Rivette
1981 | 160 Minutes

Release Information
Blu-ray | MSRP: $99.95 | Series: Arrow Academy
MVD Visual

Release Date: May 23, 2017
Review Date: June 6, 2017

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SYNOPSIS

In 1975, Jacques Rivette reunited with Out 1 producer Stéphane Tchal Gadjieff with the idea of a four-film cycle. He would create a quartet of interconnected films, each in a different genre. One was to be a love story, another a Western, and there was to be a fantastical thriller and a musical comedy starring Anna Karina and Jean Marais too. Ill health intervened, and only two of the films were completed. Duelle (une quarantine) sees Rivette in fantasy territory, cross-pollinating Val Lewton, Jean Cocteau and film noir as the Queen of the Sun (Bulle Ogier) and the Queen of the Night (Juliet Berto) search for a magical diamond in present day. Its parallel film, Noroît (une vengeance), is a pirate tale - and a loose adaptation of The Revenger's Tragedy - starring Geraldine Chaplin (Nashville, Cría cuervos). A third film began production - Marie et Julien starring Albert Finney and Leslie Caron - but Rivette succumbed to nervous exhaustion and shooting was abandoned. When he did return to filmmaking, Rivette borrowed some of the elements of Duelle and Noroît and came up with Merry-Go-Round. Joe Dallesandro (Trash, Flesh for Frankenstein) and Maria Schneider (Last Tango in Paris, The Passenger) are summoned to Paris, which leads to one of the most surreal and mysterious tales in a career that was dominated by surrealism and mystery.


PICTURE

Arrow Academy ports over to North America a scaled down version of their UK dual-format set The Jacques Rivette Collection, presenting three of the director’s works: Duelle, Noroît, and Merry-Go-Round. Missing from the set is Out 1 and the shorter version of that film, Out 1: Spectre. The lack of Out 1 in the set is of course a bit of a letdown but rights issues unfortunately prevented that: Out 1 has been released on Blu-ray by Carlotta Films. Still, the films in this set are, more or less, all related to a four-film project that director Jacques Rivette never actually got to complete, with Duelle and Noroît being the first two films made and Merry-Go-Round being born from that project, though (according to Rivette) it’s not directly part of those series of films.

All three films have been restored and come from 2K scans of the original 35mm negatives. Each film is delivered in 1080p/24hz high-definition on a dual-layer Blu-ray disc, while a standard definition version of each film is presented on their own respective dual-layer DVDs. Both Duelle and Noroît are presented in the aspect ratio of 1.85:1 while Merry-Go-Round comes to is in 1.37:1.

As a whole it’s an impressive batch of restorations and encodes, though there is one aspect I’m admittedly unsure of. But first the good: Both Noroît and Merry-Go-Round look spectacularly good. The more scenic photography of Noroît probably pushes me to say that it is the better looking of the two but that’s probably debatable. Still, both have incredible, natural looking colours, with incredible reds, blues, and purples, the blue skies in Noroît (when there isn’t overcast) looking breathtaking at times. Black levels are also strong to have more murky blacks that could crush out detail. Exterior shots are exceptional, though, and I otherwise had very little to complain about.

All three films (Duelle, Noroît, and Merry-Go-Round) have wonderful encodes as well. Details are super crisp, delivering those fine patterns and textures like nothing all. Film grain in all three (which can vary from super fine, like in Merry-Go-Round to a bit heavier in the other films) is also rendered well throughout, though some darker shots can maybe look a little heavier or clunkier in some of the darker shots. Still, all three look film-like and the restoration work has cleaned up all three films quite beautifully. There aren’t many signs of damage and what remains are really just faint, little marks.

As to that one aspect I’m unsure of it is the colours in Duelle. The other two films in the set, as I mentioned, look rather natural in their colour tones but Duelle has a very different look: it has a very heavy yellow balance on it, causing some of the characters to look a bit jaundiced at times. Merry-Go-Round itself may have a bit of a warmer tone itself but nothing to the extent of this film. Because of the disparity between Duelle and the other films, as well as a black-and-white scene in the film that has the yellow toned down as well, I would almost have to guess that maybe this is how the film is supposed to look. But even then, this colour space seems to have had some impact on other areas of the presentation, particularly the black levels. They appear a bit milkier here, crushing out details in darker areas of the screen. This aspect proved most frustrating since every other aspect of the presentation (from restoration work to encode) looks marvelous. This may be how it’s supposed to look but those black levels still seem off.

Though I’m not sure on Duelle’s colours I’m still very pleased with the end results here. The films have all been given vigorous restorations and the encodes still remain quite film-like.

\ 9/10

All Blu-ray screen captures come from the source disc and have been shrunk from 1920x1080 to 900x506 and slightly compressed to conserve space. While they are not exact representations they should offer a general idea of overall video quality.

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Duelle

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Duelle

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Duelle

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Duelle

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Duelle

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Noroît

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Noroît

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Noroît

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Noroît

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Noroît

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Merry-Go-Round

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Merry-Go-Round

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Merry-Go-Round

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Merry-Go-Round

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Merry-Go-Round

AUDIO

All three films present lossless PCM 1.0 mono tracks. The set’s included booklet features notes on the restoration and they make mention of the fact that the original magnetic reels for all three films were so far gone they had to instead use optical negatives and Betacam tapes created in the 90s instead. The Betacam aspect had me prepared for some rough sound in places but I honestly didn’t notice any severe problems.

Fidelity is fine in all three, if nothing spectacular, but I was still surprised by the range, though not terribly wide it was still better than I was expecting. If I had to choose I would probably say Merry-Go-Round sounded best, but not by a whole lot. Still, each film presents some music and it doesn’t sound too shabby, and dialogue sounds clean. Merry-Go-Round is more of an English/French track and the English dialogue is clear and easy to understand. I also didn’t notice any severe damage in any of the presentations and background noise wasn’t a real concern. Despite whatever difficulties Arrow ran into I thought all three sounded very pleasing.

6/10

SUPPLEMENTS

With the lack of Out 1 and its features this set feels considerably lighter in comparison to its UK version but Arrow still includes some nice features across the discs.

Disc one, which presents Duelle, has one 11-minute feature, an interview with actors Bulle Ogier and Hermine Karagheuz. Ogier seems to have a clearer recollection on the making of the film and what it was like working with Rivette, while Karagheuz humourously has a hard time recalling a lot about it. She talks about how Rivette never really explained the film or her role, only just giving her the bare minimum to get through a scene. It’s short but does offer some insight into how Rivette worked with his actors.

Noroît, found on disc 2, doesn’t have any special features, despite the listing for that title promising Scenes from a Parallel Life: Jacques Rivette Remembers. Instead, that feature is found on the third disc, with Merry-Go-Round. Here you will find two archival interviews with Rivette, one from 1990 (running about 22-minutes) and the other from 2004 (running around 30-minutes). Impressively, though both cover some of the same ground, there is a minimal amount of information repeated between the two. They’re both fantastic interviews, focusing a lot on the 4-film project this box set centers around (this series included Duelle and Noroît, and to a far lesser extent Merry-Go-Round), and the 2004 interview was conducted around the release of his film Story of Marie and Julien, which is somewhat based on one of the films in the series he had to abandon.

The 1990 portion probably proves the most invaluable as Rivette talks very in-depth about this series of four films, clarifying that Merry-Go-Round shouldn’t really be considered one of those films (his original intention was an all-out musical but illness and financing stopped that). He is especially hard on Merry-Go-Round, calling it a failure, and not even an interesting one. But he talks in-depth about the other films and the mythology that influenced them and talks about why he never got to finish them.

The 2004 interview covers some of the same details about the four films, but here he ends up talking more about Marie and Julien and how this film relates to one of his abandoned films. But here he also talks about possible film influences (which he admits are there but they are unconscious) and then goes into more details about the story elements found in Noroît and Duelle. He also explains his original intentions with the music in the films, which he wanted to progress and come more to forefront until his fourth film, which would be a musical.

The films can be a bit bewildering (though Merry-Go-Round is its own thing) and listening to Rivette clarify them a bit helped substantially. He does dismiss Merry-Go-Round (which had a very troubled production according to him) and doesn’t get into much detail about that one unfortunately. At any rate these are both invaluable interviews.

Also included on the Merry-Go-Round disc is a 22-minute interview with Jonathan Rosenbaum discussing Rivette’s work, particularly the films in this set. He goes over the original intent of creating four films interconnected in some way and why the director ultimately abandoned the project. But as an accompaniment to the Rivette interviews Rosenbaum’s piece helps to add some clarity to Duelle and Noroît, but he admits to being lost with Merry-Go-Round (which made me feel better). It’s a really good primer, ultimately, though filmed in an odd setting (it seems to be in some sort of public space, maybe a restaurant or some sort of eatery).

Arrow also includes a booklet with the set, though again, a scaled down one compared to the UK version. In it there as an essay by Mary M. Wiles who offers a lengthy essay on Rivette’s career, which is then followed by a reprinting of an article covering on-set visits of the films Noroît and Duelle conducted by Jonathan Rosenbaum, Gilbert Adair, and Michael Graham. The booklet then closes with an essay focused on Merry-Go-Round and its production troubles, written by Nick Pinkerton. As is usual with Arrow’s booklets it’s a very valuable asset to this edition.

Taking this set on its own, forgetting the UK set that features Out 1, the supplements are rather good altogether. They feel slim admittedly, not even reaching 90-minutes in total run time, but they’re all of good quality, the Rivette interviews being the jewels here.

7/10

CLOSING

I like this set, but similar to Arrow’s recent House box set, knowing that there is a more lavish collection across the pond makes this North American release of The Jacques Rivette Collection feel, admittedly, less “essential.” The inclusion of Out 1 and its shorter version made that set feel more like an event, so to say. Still, taken on its own terms, it’s a sharp looking release, delivering excellent restorations and encodes (though questionable colours in Duelle) and some strong supplementary material that all actually help one gain, at the very least, some appreciation for the films in this set. For those wanting to dig more into Rivette’s filmography this set comes with an easy recommendation (though if you are region free I would direct you to the UK set).




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