Written by: Michael Den Boer on January 3rd, 2018
Theatrical Release Date: France, 1974
Director: Jacques Rivette
Writers: Juliet Berto, Dominique Labourier, Bulle Ogier, Marie-France Pisier, Jacques Rivette, Eduardo de Gregorio
Cast: Juliet Berto, Dominique Labourier, Bulle Ogier, Marie-France Pisier, Barbet Schroeder
BluRay released: November 20th, 2017
Approximate running times: 194 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1 Aspect Ratio / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: 12 (UK)
Sound: LPCM Mono French
BluRay Release: BFI
Region Coding: Region B
Retail Price: £19.99 (UK)
Though, Jacques Rivette was key contributor to the of French New Wave (nouvelle vague) that rose to prominence in the late 1950’s. Other notable filmmakers who were also part of the French New Wave include, Jean-Luc Godard, François Truffaut, Éric Rohmer and Claude Chabrol. His cinematic output is not as well-known as his contemporaries’.
Throughout his career, he created a body of work, that was in direct contrast with traditional cinema. Most notably, during the 1970’s, his most experimental phase of his career. And it was during this part of his career, that he would direct what is widely considered his masterpiece Celine and Julie Go Boating.
Content wise, the premise for Celine and Julie Go Boating, has more than passing resemblance to themes that are explored in Lewis Carrol’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. And nowhere is this more evident, then this film’s opening setup, where Celine first encounters Julie.
Besides the more fantastical elements the plot. The narrative also revolves around a murder mystery in which the two characters initially watch and later, reenact the events leading up to the murder. Because of this, there is a repetitiveness to the narrative. That will have you feeling déjà vu. Fortunately, this narrative structure perfectly complements this film’s extremely satisfying conclusion.
Without a doubt, this film’s greatest assets are the performances of its two leads, Juliet Berto (La chinoise, Le Gai Savoir) in the role of Celine and Dominique Labourier (City of Women) in the role of Julie. There performances perfectly capture their characters sense of childlike wonder. Ultimately, Celine and Julie Go Boating is an extraordinary film, that is in a class all of its own.
Celine and Julie Go Boating comes on a 50 GB dual layer (42.5 GB) BluRay. This release has been flagged for progressive playback and the film is presented in its intended 1.37:1 aspect ratio. Black and contrast levels look solid throughout, colors and flesh tones look accurate, details look crisp, grain looks natural and there are no issues with DNR or compression. And when compared to BFI’s DVD release, this new transfer is a massive upgrade that is superior in every way.
The release comes with one audio option, a LPCM mono mix in French and included with this release are removable English subtitles. There are no issues with distortion or background noise, dialog come through clearly and the more ambient aspects of the soundtrack are well represented.
Extras for this release include, a silent short film titled The Haunted Curiosity Shop (1 minute 55 seconds), a documentary directed by Alan Resnais titled Toute la memoire du monde (21 minutes 54 seconds, in French with English subtitles), an interview with film critic Jonathan Romney who discusses Rivette and Celine and Julie Go Boating (19 minutes 17 seconds) and an audio commentary with film scholar Adrian Martin.
Topics discussed in the audio commentary include, background information about Jacques Rivette, Juliet Berto and Dominique Labourier. Other topics include, the origins of the film, other films that have inspired and been inspired by this film, Barbet Schroeder / his role as this film’s producer, the score / Jean-Marie Sénia and critical reaction to the film. He also reads comments that Jacques Rivette made about the film.
Rounding out the extras is a forty-two-page booklet with an interview with actresses Dominique Labourier and Juliet Berto, an essay titled Work and Play in the House of Fiction written by Jonathan Rosenbaum, interview with director Jacques Rivette, a review by Tom Milne, an essay titled Desperately Seeking Celine and Julie written by Susan Seidelman, cast & crew information and information about the transfer. Overall Celine and Julie Go Boating gets a definitive release from BFI, highly recommended.