Based on the name, you might have been expecting an action, sci-fi, or horror film, but you’d be wrong. It’s an arty experimental film about a conspiracy that was created from a 12 hour film–by the same director–released three years earlier. This one was only 4 hours long and is not simply an abridgment of the longer film, but is a separate work. A work that is usually lauded more than the much longer film.

They played this film at UC Berkeley during my second semester, but unfortunately I didn’t know this was something I needed to see at the time. That’s why after several years of searching, I wound up with this lousy version, as shown by the image above. Surprisingly, I was able to get a hold of a crystal clear version of the longer film, but the shorter one is all but unavailable.

Believe It Or Not, That’s Jean-Pierre Léaud

The film starts with a young man (Jean-Pierre Léaud), a young woman (Juliet Berto), and a theater group supposedly preparing for a production of Prometheus. The young man pretends to be a deaf mute on the street in order to illicit sympathy and thus larger amounts of money until he comes across some information that he finds intriguing. The young woman steals some letters from an importer and then tries to extort money from the authors of the letters. Things take awhile to emerge, but it eventually becomes clear that there is some sort of powerful group known as the “13”.

The Young Woman

Part Of The Theater Group

It’s difficult to comment on other aspects of this film because of the quality of the version I watched. However, there was one part that was very distinct. The normal parts of the film appeared as above, but every once in a while it would switch to stills like those below. As far as I can tell, they aren’t scenes from further in the film or earlier in the film, but from the 12 hour film. I’m not sure why director Jacques Rivette shows them.

I have seen two other Rivette films with a running time that exceeds two hours, but Rivette has always managed to keep me entranced whether I get it or not. I will have to watch the 12 hour film and re-watch this one. For now, I’d say it’s a worth a look.

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