Celine and Julie Go Boating DVD
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Directed by Jacques Rivette
Produced in 1974
Main Language - FRENCH with English subtitles
Coming up with a description of what David Thomson called ‘the most radical and delightful narrative film since Citizen Kane’ is a task fraught with potential peril. Is it a slapstick comedy? A female buddy movie? A simultaneous tribute to the very different worlds of Lewis Carroll and Henry James? A self-reflexive essay on the act of critically analysing a film? A rhapsodic love letter to Paris? It's all these and more, cramming its three-hour-plus running time with a veritable encyclopaedia of allusions, puns and unexpected diversions including conjuring acts and musical numbers (though no actual boating scenes: the slang term in the original French title - vont en bateau - actually means ‘to go crazy’).
Brunette magician Céline and red-headed librarian Julie meet one balmy (and barmy) summer's day in Montmartre and become firm friends, swapping stories, fantasies, clothes and even Julie's hapless suitor before joining forces (with the aid of magic sweets) to investigate the apparently haunted house at 7 bis, rue du Nadir aux Pommes, where a love triangle-cum-murder mystery is playing out in a seemingly infinite loop. Rivette somehow keeps everything hanging together while simultaneously creating the impression that Céline and Julie are making it all up as they go along: few films with such a heavyweight arthouse reputation are quite this breezily playful. Even some unintentional humour caused by the passage of time (not so much the hippie-chic fashions as Céline's seemingly genuine delight at the news that she may be touring Beirut and Baghdad) seems part of the overall game plan. A repertory staple for two decades, Rivette's most enduringly popular film has been hard to see in recent years, making this release doubly welcome. It comes in a sparkling new transfer, and is accompanied by a copiously illustrated video introduction and two imaginatively-chosen short films.
Michael Brooke on 14th September 2006
Author of 135 reviews
A brilliantly allusive meditation on the nature of fantasy and regarded as Rivette's most accomplished film. Two girls meet up and wind up sharing each others lives - same flat, same bed, same fiancé, same clothes, even the same imagination while the film spins a circular, torturous fantasy around their lives. Described by David Thomson as "the most radical and delightful narrative film since Citizen Kane...the experience of a lifetime".
Length: 192 mins
Aspect ratio: 1.33 Full Screen
Cat No: BFIVD657
Format: DVD B&W
- 2 discs. Filmed Introduction With Critic Jonathan Romney
- "Toute La Memoire Du Monde" - Alain Resnais' playful film on memory filmed in the National Library Of France
- "The Haunted Curiosity Shop" (R.W.Paul, 1901)
- Fully Illustrated Booklet.
by Graeme Hobbs on 30th July 2003
This is essentially a tale of the unplaced in a shifting society, with Celine and Julie’s interdependent imaginings informed by a questing sixties spirit. (The present... Read on
This is essentially a tale of the unplaced in a shifting society, with Celine and Julie’s interdependent imaginings informed by a questing sixties spirit. (The present equivalent I suppose would take place between new-agers but I can’t imagine it having the same sense of unbridled fun – even one’s relaxation must have a point these days.) It is a film based around the fantasy of discovery and of playacting of childhood in adult form. It is also a take on Alice in Wonderland with themes such as sweets that give visions of characters in a house replaying their Henry Jameson-esque scenes in perpetuity. Celine and Julie make it their goal to rescue the young girl trapped between the adults’ machinations in the house.
There are 2 rhythms in this three hour film - the languid exposition and the occasional flashes of visions. A fine sense of occasional slapstick also lightens the weight and prevents the film from being too ponderous or preoccupied with itself. There is an appealing rhythm of tenderness and reconciliation too between the two women, who are well characterised from a minimum of means. Celine is flighty, day-to-day, living on her wits, while Julie is pragmatic, solid, a little clumsy even. A liminal attraction between them aids our appreciation of their fantasy world.
It’s a film you can thoroughly enjoy without ever quite knowing why. The abiding memories are of laughter – Celine and Julie captivated by their own joint imaginings, watching them as if on a television and shrieking and spluttering with mirth. Watching it is rather like spending a meandering afternoon with two friends in a pub garden in the sun. Afterwards you wander home a liitle dazed and quite content.
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