“If ever anyone has the courage and the time to write a great chronicle of the French New Wave, I suspect that Jacques Rivette’s L’amour fou will emerge as the climax and the crisis, the moment when it becomes clear that the load carried by Truffaut and Godard had passed to the least likely of them all.”
For whatever reason, certain great directors, and Jacques Rivette is surely one, attract few books around their œuvre. And then, out of what seemed a wasteland, a few will emerge in relatively short measure. And so, we have now Douglas Morrey and Alison Smith’s esteemed volume in the French Film Directors series published by Manchester University Press in 2009 (reviewed in Issue 60 of Senses).
When, quite some time back now, we got wind that University of Illinois Press also had a volume forthcoming in their Contemporary Film Directors series, we contacted the author, Mary Wiles, about the possibly of publishing a chapter from her text in advance of its print run. The author was happy to accommodate, and kindly offered any number of chapters to choose from. At first, it seemed best to go with a chapter that focused on one of the better known titles from Rivette’s filmography, one that had gained broad international distribution and critical acclaim, for example, a Céline and Julie Go Boating (1974) or a Belle Noiseuse (1991), in other words, a title that could accommodate the interests of both the specialist and general readers of our journal.
But really, there was never any doubt what the choice would be. Why L’amour fou? First, and foremost, it is a personal favourite. Once seen, it is never forgotten. And it is indeed a very rare film to see; print screenings are near impossible (at least in our part of the world), nor is it available on DVD. Which is actually the second point: the film needs drawing attending to in the hope that someone, the BFI or Criterion or anyone, will finally make a DVD release happen. Thirdly, and it is tied to David Thomson’s point about the “climax and the crisis” that L’amour fou represents: the film seems the point of historical conjunction between the end of one wave and the coming of a second wave of filmmakers that washed up in its undertow. At a stretch, one can see the shadow of this film on the cinema of Jean Eustache, Maurice Pialat, Philippe Garrel and others. L’amour fou is a great and wondrous film.
Our thanks to Mary Wiles and Illinois University Press for permission to publish the text.
And our heartfelt thanks to the many individuals and institutions that made our Pozible campaign a success.
We hope you enjoy the issue.