Written by: Michael Den Boer on July 1st, 2017
Theatrical Release Dates: France, 1976 (Duelle / Noroît), France, 1981 (Merry-Go-Round)
Director: Jacques Rivette (All Films)
Cast: Juliet Berto, Bulle Ogier, Jean Babilée, Hermine Karagheuz, Nicole Garcia, Claire Nadeau, Elisabeth Wiener (Duelle), Geraldine Chaplin, Bernadette Lafont, Kika Markham, Humbert Balsan, Larrio Ekson, Anne-Marie Reynaud, Babette Lamy, Danièle Rosencranz (Noroît), Maria Schneider, Joe Dallesandro, Danièle Gégauff, Sylvie Matton, Françoise Prévost, Maurice Garrel, Michel Berto (Merry-Go-Round)
BluRay released: May 23rd, 2017
Approximate running times: 121 minutes (Duelle), 134 minutes (Noroît), 160 minutes (Merry-Go-Round)
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC (Duelle / Noroît), 1.33:1 Aspect Ratio / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC (Merry-Go-Round)
Rating: NR (All Films)
Sound: LPCM Mono French (All Films)
Subtitles: English (All Films)
BluRay Release: Arrow Academy USA
Region Coding: Region Free / Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $99.95
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.
Duelle: The Queen of the night and the Queen of the sun, battle over a magical diamond that gives the person who possesses the ability to remain on Earth.
Noroît: A woman avenges the death of her brother by infiltrating a pirate gang that lives on an island and positioning herself as an ally so she can get close enough to assassinate their leader.
Duelle and Noroît were part of a proposed four film cycle. With the common link between these four films being that they were all fantasy based stories. Health issues would cause Jacques Rivette too abandoned the other two films.
Out of these two films, Duelle has the more straightforward narrative. And when it comes to pacing both films do not have what one would identify as a more traditional narrative. And nowhere is more evident than how these film’s use improvisation, instead of a constrictive structure to forward to the story at hand. Also there is a hypnotic like rhythm to these two films narratives.
Another strength of these two films are there visuals which do a superb job setting and reinforcing the mood. With standout moments, visually in Duelle include, the scenes that take place at an aquarium and the film’s very satisfying climax. Standout moments visually in Noroît include, the film’s opening setup where the protagonist discovers the corpse of her recently murdered brother and a scene where the characters act out a Shakespeare like tragedy.
Where the other two films included as part of this collection are loosely linked by theme. Merry-Go-Round is a standalone film that takes the aforementioned lose narrative structure and use of improvising to the extreme.
And where the other two films were rooted in fantasy, Merry-Go-Round crime drama that has all the key ingredients one expects from this genre. Visually this is more subdued then the other two films included as part of this collection. And when it comes to pacing there is an inconsistency that makes this film’s 2 hour forty minutes run-time a grueling journey to digest.
The film’s that have been included as part of this collection are spread over three 50 GB dual layer BluRay’s. Duelle and Noroît are presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen and Merry-Go-Round has been flagged for progressive playback that presents the film in its intended 1.33:1 aspect ratio. The transfers for all three films have been sourced from 2K restorations. Grain remains intact, colors look accurate, details look crisp, there are no issues with compression and black levels remain strong throughout.
Each film comes with one audio option, a LPCM mono mix in French and each film comes with removable English subtitles. All three audio mixes sound, clean, clear and balanced throughout. It should be noted that some of the dialog in Noroît and Merry-Go-Round is in English.
Extras for this release are spread over two BluRay’s.
Extras included on the BluRay disc that contains Duelle include, an interview with actresses Bulle Ogier and Hermine Karagheuz titled Remembering Duelle (10 minutes 59 seconds, in French with English subtitles).
Topics discussed in the extra titled Remembering Duelle include, Jacques Rivette, their thoughts about the film, the cast and onset memories.
Extras included on the BluRay disc that contains Merry-Go-Round include, an interview with critic Jonathan Rosenbaum (22 minutes 25 seconds) and an archive interview with Jacques Rivette titled Scenes from a Parallel Life (51 minutes 43 seconds, in French with English subtitles).
Topics discussed in the interview with Jonathan Rosenbaum include, a proposed four film cycle and how Jacques Rivette’s nervous breakdown while making the 3rd film is why the last two films were never made, how he became acquainted with Jacques Rivette, background information about Duelle, Noroît and Merry-Go-Round, audience / cast reaction to these three films, his thoughts about Jacques Rivette as a filmmaker and his use of music in his films.
Topics discussed in the extra titled Scenes from a Parallel Life include, the ten year period that culminated with Merry-Go-Round, a proposed four film cycle and information about the four films, including information about the two films that were not made / completed, Duelle, Noroît and elements that link these two films and his cinema influences.
Rounding out the extras is a sixty-page booklet with cast & crew information for each film, an essay titled Moving Backstage written by Mary M. Miles, onset reports from Duelle and Noroit titled Rivette X 4 written by Jonathan Rosenbaum, Gilbert Adair and Michael Graham, an essay titled Vagabond Charm written by Nick Pinkerton and information about the transfers. Included with this release are DVD’s that contain the same content included on the Blu-Ray counterparts. Overall The Jacques Rivette Collection is another solid release from Arrow Academy USA.