My Gleanings

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Jacques Rivette on "le conseil des dix" ------ Introduction

The November 1955 issue of “Cahiers du Cinema” saw the inauguration of a new heading “Le conseil des dix”. Ten contributors rating the films that had been released in the preceding month. A box on the facing page explained in part,

“...The feature that we introduce in this issue aims to conciliate the subjectivity of our critics (who will continue to be found meanwhile under their customary signatures) with the exhaustivity and objectivity legitimately expected by our readers.Our idea is to propose to ten carefully chosen personalities a list of the principal films released during the month. Each will indicate with a conventional sign whether the film does not merit being seen (bullet), merits being seen "only if one likes that" (1 star), merits being seen (2 stars), merits being seen "absolutely" (3 stars). If the box is left blank that shows an abstention. Either our correspondent has not seen the film or he waives expressing an opinion.”

One of the ten panelists on that first “conseil” was future Cahiers editor and film director Jacques Rivette. Serving also were François Truffaut and Alain Resnais. It would be the first of ninety-six conseils that Rivette would participate on, the being in the month of September 1966. In all Cahiers would convoke “le conseil des dix” one hundred and thirty-eight times before discontinuing it after the May-June 1968 issue.

In July 1963 Rivette would begin his tenure as the editor of Cahiers. A note at the end of the monthly Petit Journal du Cinema feature which is not credited but most probably written by him describes le conseil as,

“...not a "judgment", a final sentence, beyond appeal, not a flat out judgment but a bit of advice similar to the one that you give to a friend whom you meet in the street who asks you, "What is there that is “must see” right now? And is it really worth seeing?" To which you reply quickly between red lights, "Yes, it is really worth it". Or rather, "if you have nothing else to do and you like that kind of thing". Or even "You'd be better off stating home and watching TV or listening to Webern - that can't hurt you". Or "Go tonight. Cancel your dinner plans or your date with Albertine". The only exception to this rule is the citation 4 stars "masterpiece" - a personal bet on the future, an intimate little pleasure, an ontological, political or phenomenological certainty or all of these at the same time.”

The ninety-six conseils that JR made a part of considered one thousand six hundred and eighty films. What follows here is a record of how Jacques advised. I have tried to list all the films that he rated at three or four stars. Below that I have tried to list all films from directors whose films he was known to have a penchant for, (e.g. Robert Aldrich, Nicholas Ray, Robert Mulligan), directors who are usually spoken of as “qualité francaise” (e.g. Claude Autant-Lara, René Clément), and other situations that interested me.

The numbers below the month are:
number of films rated: 4 stars-3stars-2stars-1star-bullet-abstain

The “four stars” rating was not begun until late 1956.


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