CC: Le Pont du Nord (1981)

2020/21 SEASON!

Thursday, November 05, 2020 - Thursday, November 05, 2020

Le Pont du Nord (1981)

Thursday, November 05, 2020 @ 7:00 PM
Globe Cinema
- 617 8 Avenue SW, Calgary, AB
$13.75 General | $11.62 Members/Seniors/Students | $43.45 5-Pack Punch Pass



A tantalizing bit of copy from the press release accompanying the initial appearance of Jacques Rivette’s 1981 urban fantasia: “Could we say that Le Pont du Nord is the meeting between a character out of fiction—Bulle Ogier—and a character out of science-fiction—Pascale Ogier? The space odyssey of an ex-militant and a mutant?” Bulle and Pascal Ogier are/were mother and daughter in real life, and here they share the stage that is Paris in a film conceived as a children’s game, something like snakes and ladders, played exclusively in the open air, though far afield of the tourist sites. Marie (Bulle) is an ex-radical who has just been released following a lengthy prison sentence. Freshly landed in Paris, Marie, over the course of a compressed period of time, repeatedly runs into Baptiste (Pascale), a young leather-jacketed woman ever zooming about on her scooter. Are these repeated encounters mere coincidence? Baptiste doesn’t think so. “One time, that’s an accident. Two times, that’s chance. Three times, that’s destiny.” Baptiste quickly draws the claustrophobic Marie into a labyrinth of paranoid conjecture, involving a briefcase, cryptic clues, statues imputed to possess diabolic agency, and a map that may lead to the lion’s very den. The city of Paris is now a game-board though this is free-form play steeped in mounting dread.

Inspired by a folk song itself based on a legend from the Middle Ages, Le Pont du Nord depicts its two heroines, mother and daughter, representatives of two distinct generations (with their respective paranoias), navigating a labyrinthine Paris informed by pervasive “panoptic” oversight and indications of conspiratorial malfeasance, a phantasmic/mythic map superimposed over the quotidian map of the city in question. The game that directs and continually redirects the film ultimately proves to be one of life and death, though the mystery is never dispelled, the case never cracked. It can only end one way: in a crowning theatrical ritual (or rite), a sacred deflection that nullifies, if only for as long as the performance lasts, the system of controls. As with Céline and Julie Go Boating, Le Pont du Nord could be said to harken back to the Surrealist concept of disponibilité (in the 1930s) and the Situationist concept of derivé (in the 1960s), each of which look forward to the more contemporary ideas pertaining to psychogeography. Each of the three is a terminology relating to practices that seek to unleash radical creative energies upon the navigation of urban space. At the time of Le Pont du Nord’s release, Rivette said of the capital-W Woman that is the subject of his films that she is a modern day Penthesilea (the name of an Amazonian queen in Greek mythology). Collaboration with actresses is a means to the liberation of forces that might themselves further liberate. The great actress Jeanne Balibar, star of his 2001 film Va savoir, had this to say about working with Rivette: “There are some people in a room, and we’ll see what happens. You let the unconscious of the actors do the work.” Such is the case with Le Pont du Nord, with the qualification that this happens to be a film that doesn’t feature any rooms.

-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.

Calgary Showtimes: Le Pont du Nord (1981)

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NOTE: The showtimes listed on come directly from the theatres' announced schedules, which are distributed to us on a weekly basis. All showtimes are subject to change without notice or recourse to