Exilic/idyllic Shakespeare: Reiterating Pericles in Jacques Rivette's Paris nous appartient


  • Maurizio Calbi


Jacques Rivette’s Paris nous appartient (1961) is about a literature student, Anne Goupil, who becomes involved with a group of bohemians centering around the absent figure of Spanish musician, Juan. The film incorporates the attempt by theatre director Gérard Lenz – in many ways a simulacrum of Rivette himself – to stage Pericles, even though this is a play that he himself defines as “incoherent” and “unplayable.” This essay explores the significance of this incorporation, and shows how the reiterated, fragmentary rehearsals of this “unplayable” play are essential to an understanding of the (disjointed) logic of the film as well as the atmosphere of conspiracy it continually evokes. It also argues that the “Shakespeare” included in the film is an “exilic Shakespeare” that does not properly belong, a kind of spectre haunting the film characters. This construct uneasily coexists with a version of “Shakespeare” that the film simultaneously emphasizes – a “Shakespeare” that takes place “on another level” (in Anne’s words), an idyllic and idealistic entity.


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