Out 1: Noli me tangere (pt.1)
dir. Jacques Rivette, France, 1971, DCP, 380 mins. b/w, French w/English subtitltes
Paris, April 1970. Two theatre groups each rehearse avant-garde adaptations of plays by Aeschylus. A young deaf-mute begs for change in cafés while playing the harmonica. A young woman seduces men in order to rob them. As a conspiracy begins to be uncovered, the protagonists' stories start to intertwine… Crowned with success after L'Amour Fou, Jacques Rivette throws himself into a film project "without any time limitation" and films a group of actors in an almost constant state of improvisation as they interact with and move through the cafés, the streets, and the apartments of Paris. Equally inspired by Honoré de Balzac's History of the Thirteen and Lewis Carroll's The Hunting of the Snark, as he was by the serials of Louis Feuillade, Out 1 is a unique snapshot of post-May 1968 society, when the utopian dreams of a new era give way to a general malaise.
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Out 1: Noli me tangere
The restoration and reappearance of Jacques Rivette’s legendary magnum opus, Out 1: Noli me tangere brings this lengthy nearly impossible-to-see, 13-hour masterpiece to the big screen. Over eight episodes shot on 16mm, a cast of French New Wave icons improvise a spellbinding tale based on Honoré de Balzac’s History of the Thirteen, involving two theater troupes rehearsing Aeschylus, a female con artist (Juliet Berto) who seduces her victims, and a deaf-mute (until he speaks) busker (Jean-Pierre Léaud) on a quest to uncover a mysterious secret society. As the characters’ paths intersect and the film’s puzzle-box structure—including one 45-minute take—grows ever more elaborate, a portrait of post-May 1968 Paris and its dashed dreams emerges. The result is a cinematic experience unlike any other, in which, as Rivette himself put it: “the fiction swallows everything up and then self-destructs.”
“A mind-blowing experience, but one which, instead of taking one ‘out of this world’ as the expression has it, took one right smack into the world. Or into a world which one only dimly realised was there—always right there beneath the everyday world...the cinema will never be the same again, and nor will I.”—Richard Roud, The Guardian