Noroit (1976)

21 06 2008

The second part of Rivette’s proposed four-part series (Les Filles du Feu) is even more of a straight-forward fantasy film than its predecessor, Duelle. All the problems of that film remain, but they are somewhat downplayed by a much more carefree and playful spirit. On the other hand, this is a bit more theatrical though not in the usual meaning of the word. In fact, all the performances here are quite excellent and again, Lubtchansky’s camera work is absolutely breath-taking. It feels a bit repetitive to continue to praise the visual aspects of Rivette’s work regardless of the other factors, but he (and Lubtchansky) always seem to capture something so beautiful that it simply must be noted.

Unlike its companion piece, Noroit establishes its very muddled narrative rather quickly. Morag’s brother has been killed by a group of female pirates. She makes it her personal mission to see that this group is put to justice. She decides to do so by going undercover and begins to gain the trust of many of the pirates. This ultimately leads her to a showdown (supposedly) with the Daughter of the Sun.

In other words, this is pretty much all of Rivette’s narrative silliness brought to an exaggerated level. In an almost fashion methodical fashion, he transcends the story or even the idea of a story to begin with. It is much more rewarding to approach the film as a series of completely odd sequences, all beautifully rendered. Even though it has its place in Duelle, it was during my viewing of this film, that I realized how Rivette is essentially the father of the whole “color-saturated” look. Such a look is now far more general, which should indicate a great level of importance in Lubtchansky’s work.

There is a very elusive feeling of “epicness” throughout almost all of Noroit. In a manner not unlike the films of Miklos Jancso, the camera captures many (quite literal) layers. Perhaps its just an inherent result of shooting long tracking shots in deep focus, but there seems to be plenty going on in nearly every frame. This is complimented by the much more “minimalistic” vibe, which contrasts to the kinetic/shaky camera work in Duelle. If anything, these two films show just how much range Rivette has as a director, and just how brilliant he is at establishing a mood under different circumstances. Still, the overall fantasy-ness of his two 1976 features present somewhat a cinematic roadblock. There’s simply some events in both of these films that are too silly to not be bothered by. Once again, though, the positive greatly outweigh the negatives.

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