1069 Céline and Julie Go Boating

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barbarella satyricon
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Re: 1069 Céline and Julie Go Boating

#76 Post by barbarella satyricon » Tue Apr 13, 2021 10:55 am

Noiretirc wrote:
Mon Apr 12, 2021 5:50 pm
It'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?
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.

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
SpoilerShow
the child’s presence in Céline and Julie’s flat at film’s end
read coherently as the played-up cheer and felicitations one would afford any favored young guest, one whose happiness and wholeness are somehow linked to one’s own, and whose situation in, again,“the real world” might very well have lurking elements of those fictionalized dangers and treacheries seen in the other narrative.

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.

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Michael Kerpan
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Re: 1069 Céline and Julie Go Boating

#77 Post by Michael Kerpan » Wed Apr 14, 2021 8:40 am

barbarella -- I don't think there is any hint that the girl remains with Celine and Julie after they (literally, at last) go boating. In fact, as I recall, the very end of the film shows them re-starting their own "interpersonal" narrative (albeit in altered form). I've never known exactly what to make of that concluding "reboot".

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furbicide
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Re: 1069 Céline and Julie Go Boating

#78 Post by furbicide » Wed Apr 14, 2021 9:25 am

I guess, in a way, they are in their own time loop, just like the characters in the house. But this time Celine and Julie are switched, so that sense of anarchy/indeterminism that carries through the film presumably persists – perhaps with wildly different outcomes, not even including the haunted house at all, this time – in contrast to the robotic characters going through their predetermined motions in the James story. That universe is over and a new one has begun, but at all levels everything is circular...

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feihong
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Re: 1069 Céline and Julie Go Boating

#79 Post by feihong » Wed Apr 14, 2021 4:07 pm

I subscribe pretty much wholecloth to the David Thompson interpretation of the film. He suggests that Celine and Julie are real characters "only to the extent that they conspire to make the world around themselves fictional" (may be interpreting slightly), and that at the end of the film they retreat to the real world, which is then revealed to be "merely another closet of the imagination." The recasting of the leads in the final moments I think does give some credence to this interpretation; the suggestion being that the same story might have played out or might yet play out, even with the roles reversed, and with even less grip on reality (as I recall, Celine yells to Julie at the end she's forgotten...what was it? She identifies what Julie drops deliberately by the wrong word.).

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therewillbeblus
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Re: 1069 Céline and Julie Go Boating

#80 Post by therewillbeblus » Wed Apr 14, 2021 5:00 pm

The final shot of the cat is so peculiar that I sometimes like to read it as the cat being the observer/viewer, and - not literally musing on if this is the kind of narrative logic that a cat could conceive of but- using the cat as a foreign vessel to insinuate the many valid sources of perception that influence our 'reality'

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feihong
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Re: 1069 Céline and Julie Go Boating

#81 Post by feihong » Wed Apr 14, 2021 5:53 pm

Right, and I think the cat suggests play and enchantment, as well; even though Celine and Julie and Madeleine have passed from one world to another and another, we've never left that state of enchantment, because we're still wrapped in this larger parcel of fiction. Part of what makes this the ultimate Rivette movie for me is the playful way it suggests that fiction need hew only so close to reality––that the two states are made of similar stuff, but put together entirely differently. At the beginning of the film, Julie observed one of the cats, lost its' own intrigue, its own fiction––or maybe we observed the cat? I'm not sure Julie ever looks at it. And then in the end of the movie, the cat is observing us, lost in the fiction we're seeing. So we've gone from observer to the observed, as we become more engrossed in what's going on. But I think the film never loses that level of critical distance that makes you aware that what you're watching is entirely constructed––and in some cases seemingly constructed on the fly. This is what makes it to me the Rivette film that encompasses and surpasses all others––it's a work so self-aware and presented with such confidence that it can afford to be funny, and, more importantly, it can afford to seem light. Rivette's films before this––and even films afterwards, like La Belle Noiseuse––seemed to demand more stakes to work, and most of them exist in a world that attempts to be more "real" (barring his immediate attempts to follow Celine and Julie, from Noirot to Merry-go-round, which try and go in the other direction, towards pure, liberating fantasy). Celine and Julie doesn't need to do this, because its' intellectual address of imagination is more thorough. Celine and Julie the characters are ensorcelled by fiction, trying to tell it, then to experience it almost like spectators of a movie screen (through the middle portion of the film they seem to "watch"––and comment upon––the drama that plays in their minds. They are so immersed and involved in this fiction they are inspired to pass through it, moving from spectators to actors within it––and I think if we've been engrossed in the film when that ending with the cat arrives, we might realize we've been inspired to follow that same movement, in the same way. The feeling of the film is that of constantly moving deeper into level upon level of story, but with each level revealed as insubstantial when we encounter it. But no one in the film is at all bothered by that lack of substantiality. Play is where the characters find themselves, find what meaning they can, and I think that play is analogized with that of the cats, one of whom stares at us in this ending as a challenge to our sense of center, to our sense of perception. The cat may bolt, or it may find a game to play with us, the audience. What do depth and stakes matter? What immerses us is the sense of play. The ideas in this drama have no deeper meaning than that which inspires the characters, and the spectators, to play.

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therewillbeblus
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Re: 1069 Céline and Julie Go Boating

#82 Post by therewillbeblus » Wed Apr 14, 2021 7:58 pm

Great post, feihong. I do think Up, Down, Fragile retains this same ethos in its musical skeleton that refuses to overwhelm its characters (well, at least two of them) with traditionally grave plot points. The ruse of the nefarious group and the father's duplicitous evidence, the criminal ties and potentially devastating romantic triangle, become trivialized and carelessly discarded through play (not always in musical numbers, but Ninon and Louise's separate and linked experiences convey this spirit that renders all attempts at melodrama- like in the repetitive, constricting house narrative in C+J- impotent). I agree that C+J is more analytically transparent about this in its formalism, perhaps making it the ultimate Rivette to study, but I find the later film to be better for many reasons, but to offer up one: because in contrasting the two aforementioned girls with the corporeal character of Ida, who is not self-actualized enough to access this third-eye perception to brush with fiction, we can observe and experience the breakdown of our potential as well as our self-imposed limitations to engage with films, and life, on this ethereal level.

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feihong
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Re: 1069 Céline and Julie Go Boating

#83 Post by feihong » Wed Apr 14, 2021 9:01 pm

Heh. I'll have to watch Up, Down, Fragile and see what I think. Of the later films I've seen, the one I like most is Secret Defense, but I do really want to see Up, Down, Fragile, and your recommendation makes it sound like I should try to see it as soon as I can.

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therewillbeblus
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Re: 1069 Céline and Julie Go Boating

#84 Post by therewillbeblus » Wed Apr 14, 2021 9:47 pm

If it helps further, my 'other' favorite later Rivette is hands-down Secret Defense as well

_shadow_
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Re: 1069 Céline and Julie Go Boating

#85 Post by _shadow_ » Wed Apr 14, 2021 11:13 pm

The reboot at the end is anticipated from the jump with "Usually, it began like this..."

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zedz
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Re: 1069 Céline and Julie Go Boating

#86 Post by zedz » Thu Apr 15, 2021 3:26 pm

_shadow_ wrote:
Wed Apr 14, 2021 11:13 pm
The reboot at the end is anticipated from the jump with "Usually, it began like this..."
I think the idea of this is that the whole film is the kind of looping narrative that outsiders get to experience / play with. The film is to us as the house is to Celine and Julie.

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Michael Kerpan
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Re: 1069 Céline and Julie Go Boating

#87 Post by Michael Kerpan » Thu Apr 15, 2021 4:18 pm

zedz wrote:
Thu Apr 15, 2021 3:26 pm
The film is to us as the house is to Celine and Julie.
Good theory.

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