He was never as famous as friends Jean-Luc Godard and François Truffaut, with whom he revolutionized cinema first as a critic for the legendary Cahiers du Cinéma and then as a filmmaker. But that may be because he was the most uncompromising of the bunch, a purist to the bone. Truffaut once admiringly called him “the most fanatic of all of our band of fanatics.”
In the two dozen films Rivette made over his long career, the most renowned of which are Céline and Julie Go Boating (1974), Le Pont du Nord (1981), and La Belle Noiseuse (1991), he experimented with abstraction and improvisation, exploring questions about artistic creation with a notorious nonchalance about running time. Most of his movies stretch over three hours, and one, the enigmatically titled Out 1: Nolo mi tangere (1971) clocks in at an epic 12 hours and 40 minutes. An avant-garde marathon, certainly, but in our age of binge-watching it feels increasingly less daunting. As the internet expands our expectations of how long it takes to tell a story, how long we’re willing to follow the same characters through their arcs, it feels as if the world has finally caught up to Jacques Rivette.