CC: Céline and Julie Go Boating (1974)

2020/21 SEASON!

Thursday, October 22, 2020 - Thursday, October 22, 2020

Céline and Julie Go Boating (1974)

Thursday, October 22, 2020 @ 6:30 PM
Globe Cinema
- 617 8 Avenue SW, Calgary, AB
$13.75 General | $11.62 Members/Seniors/Students | $43.45 5-Pack Punch Pass



Julie (Dominique Labourier) sits on a park bench reading a book about the casting of spells. Along comes Céline (the legendary Juliet Berto), by all appearances flustered, leaving in her wake a trail of personal belongings perhaps in a conscious homage to Lewis Carroll. Julie, curious, perhaps a little enamoured, pursues Céline through the streets and byways of Paris (in one of the great opening sequences in all of cinema). Céline and Julie, phantom chameleons, become fast friends, roommates, incandescent tricksters, swappers of identity, ingenious fabricators of strategies of comeuppance designed to put ineffectual men in their rightful place. Something has to happen, or it wouldn’t be a movie. A fly in the ointment? Céline and Julie discover a walled-off mansion on the rue du Nadir-aux-Pommes. A magical bonbon, randomly and serially materializing, allows the friends to enter the house as though through a breach in space-time. A drama plays out in the house, a story or stories from Henry James, performed by apparent automatons, among them the actresses Bulle Ogier and Marie-France Pisier, the sad souls trapped in this house evidently stuck eternally in an infernal loop. Céline and Julie determine to save a young girl from the house. Then they go boating. A right has been established; we end with the formation revered. Céline sits on a park bench reading a book about the casting of spells. Along comes Julie. Céline sets off in pursuit of Julie.

Rivette once said that he found in the films of Jean Renoir “a cinema which does not impose anything, where one tries to suggest things, to let them happen, where it is mainly a dialogue at every level, with the actors, with the situation, with the people you meet, where the act of filming is part of the film itself.” Though the actresses Juliet Berto, Dominique Labourier, Bulls Ogier, and Marie-France Pisier are credited as co-writers on Céline and Julie, one should not imagine this to be either a matter of a group of people sitting around a table hashing out a script or of a purely improvisational approach, but rather as a collaborative group effort produced through the process of its production. By some measure his most successful and widely beloved achievement, the resultant film had an especially major impact on second wave feminists, serving also as the main influence for Susan Seidelman’s smash hit Desperately Seeking Susan (1985). Among the most joyfully “impure” of all Rivette’s films, Céline and Julie incorporates the influence of—for starters—African occultism, Jean Rouch’s ethnofictions, Peter Brook’s African “carpet shows,” 1920s “primitivism” (from Picasso to Dadaism and ultimately Surrealism), commedia dell’arte (itself influenced by African traditions), music hall, slapstick comedy, cartoons, musicals, and detective stories. And of course Henry James. What it boils down to: pagan performance goes to war against sombre tableau and the inertia of modernity.

-Written by Jason Wierzba 

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Masters Series: Jacques Rivette

Most cinema lovers are aware of the cohort of young film critics—among them Jean-Luc Godard, François Truffaut, Éric Rohmer, and Claude Chabrol—who would go on to notoriety as the preeminent figureheads of the French New Wave. Of the young Cahiers du cinéma critics operating under the informal tutelage of André Bazin, it was Jacques Rivette who would, as a filmmaker, take most directly to heart Bazin’s insistence that the cinema might be able to distinguish itself from the theatre most distinctively by repurposing its texts and templates. Rivette’s early criticism excelled at assessing the interrelation between the arts, and he continued as an active filmmaker to believe in cinema as an “impure” form assimilating elements from all those to have preceded it. From the outset presenting a radical break from tradition nevertheless in a constant, exceedingly dynamic dialogue with traditions (on any number of fronts at any given time), the films included in Calgary Cinematheque's Masters: Jacques Rivette series are first and foremost emancipatory collaborations with actresses, seeking to establish methods by way of which theatrical ritual might serve to indulge a return to archaic matriarchal myths, provoking a radical break with the thrust of industrial modernity and its image culture. 

About Calgary Cinematheque

We are a non-profit film society dedicated to presenting significant, challenging, and essential works of cinema art in Calgary. During our season, which runs from October to April, we screen films weekly, in curated programs which situate each film in a thematic and historical context. We do this because we believe cinema is an essential form of artistic, social, and political expression. Audiences should be able to engage with a wide range of cinematic expression, not only with what is commercially viable. We believe in the power of sharing these experiences with other people in a theatrical setting and we strive to cultivate a community around that experience.


In the spirit of respect, reciprocity and truth, we honour and acknowledge that this screening takes place on Moh’kinsstis and the traditional Treaty 7 territory, as well as the oral practices of the Blackfoot confederacy: Siksika, Kainai, Piikani as well as the Îyâxe Nakoda and Tsuut’ina nations. We acknowledge that this territory is home to the Métis Nation of Alberta, Region 3 within the historical Northwest Métis homeland. Finally, we acknowledge all Nations, Indigenous and non, who live, work and play, as well as help steward this land, honour and celebrate this territory.

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