Of course it’s possible - actually very likely - that there were people in that same audience who were as creeped out by the ending as you were, while I read it as a genuinely happy one. That might come down to my own reading (not so much a systematic explication, but just an intuitive understanding, from that very first viewing) of how the “real” and the “fictional” worlds in the film relate and overlap. I think it would align more with what Shrew writes above, that the ghost house is like an intruding narrative within another narrative, and that the ghosts “can’t do anything outside that structure”. That sums up, very handily, what I always thought was going on. Thanks, Shrew.Noiretirc wrote: ↑Mon Apr 12, 2021 5:50 pmIt's fascinating to me that you find that "the Rivette ends with such a lift – quite possibly the happiest of happy endings I’ve ever enjoyed with an audience in a cinema (including that time with The Return of the King where people were standing in the aisles and happy-weeping during the final reel)". Something unsettling and ominous was brewing in the ending for me, even though I was cautiously laughing along with C+J. And when they finally go boating, I viewed what they saw there as terrifying. Perhaps I completely misunderstand this ending. Are they forever haunted? Is the child safe?
By that logic, then, I realize I would actually depart from a reading of the little girl in the boat-ride as being an actual child rescued from a bad situation in the previous century. It’s a reading that came to me while thinking over everyone’s posts today, but I think it might be plausible that the girl has actually figured into the lives of Céline and Julie all along, although never introduced to the audience as such. All the business in the house, and the girl’s presence there, might be read as a projection, then, of whatever challenges and quagmires the protagonists see as theIr mission to overcome and turn inside out as they see to the well-being and happy development of a child they have in their care, in whatever capacity, in “real” life.
It’s not my own politics necessarily (some would ask why not), but the image of the two women sharing a de facto guardianship of the girl is, if not radical, even for 1973, then certainly forward-thinking? The figures in the other boat, then, to reiterate Shrew’s point, are discomfiting but still basically powerless relics of the past, unhappy ghouls of the patriarchy, say, or baked clay mannequins from heteronormative hell. Again, not my major, but I can think of plenty of non-film-watching friends and acquaintances who would make hay out of the sexual politics here, make like it’s catnip, really.
Okay, Céline and Julie Do Co-Parenting then? All this might read like to a more doggedly realist reading of the film’s narrative world than its unexplained fantastical elements would invite, making something mundane, even maudlin, of its magic. But, to me, the surprise and wonder of
And what then of all the business with the candies and potions and incantations, the bumps and bruises incurred? Maybe that’s just Rivette people being Rivette people, playacting and ritualizing, to an all-subsuming degree, in order to exact some effect in what is called the real world.
All that’s an extemporized reading growing out of the interesting things everyone’s posted here. I might look at it later and not be happy at all with it, but who’d be silly enough to say that any reading of a film like this is a definitive one? Just my two cents and a bit.