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Le Pont du Nord(1981)
Marie is a claustrophobic ex-con who, shortly after wandering into Paris, encounters the wild and potentially troubled young woman Baptiste. Baptiste accompanies Marie on her quest to solve the mystery behind the contents of her former lover's suitcase.
For more about Le Pont du Nord and the Le Pont du Nord Blu-ray release, see Le Pont du Nord Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on August 2, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Bulle Ogier, Pascale Ogier, Pierre Clémenti, Jean-François Stévenin
Director: Jacques Rivette
» See full cast & crew
Le Pont du Nord Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, August 2, 2013
Jacques Rivette's "Le Pont du Nord" (1981) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of British distributors Eureka Entertainment. There are no supplemental features on this release. Included is a 54-page illustrated booklet featuring: "Letters from the North" by Francisco Valente & Sabrina Marques; Director's Statement by Jacques Rivette; "Six Questions for Jacques Rivette" by Jean Narboni; Sur le Pont du Nord traditional children's song; "On Le Pont du Nord" by Serge Daney; "Interview with Rivette" by Serge Daney & Jean Narboni; and "Homage to Jacques Rivette by Kate Lyn Sheil." In French, with optional English subtitles for the main feature. Region-B "locked".
Somewhere on the busy streets of Paris, Marie (Bulle Ogier, The Valley, Maitresse), a claustrophobic ex-con, meets Baptiste (Pascale Ogier, Full Moon in Paris), a slightly insane young girl who loves to stare at statues but feels intimidated by large posters with eyes. The two talk and quickly conclude that fate must have brought them together for a reason.
Soon after, the two women meet Julien (Pierre Clementi, Belle de jour, The Year of the Cannibals), Marie's former lover, who may or may not be involved with some secret organization. Julien promises Marie that he will be ready to join her in three days, after he delivers a black case full of clippings from old newspapers and maps of Paris with notes on them to a mysterious man he met during a game of poker. While waiting for Julien, Marie and Baptiste begin wandering the streets of Paris. Eventually, one of the friends notices that a strange looking man (Jean-François Stevenin, Barocco, 36 fillette) is following them.
While watching Jaques Rivette's Le Pont du Nord, I could not stop thinking about Leos Carax's Les amants du Pont-Neuf. In Carax's film, which was completed exactly ten years after Rivette's film, two vagrants, played by Juliette Binoche and Denis Lavant, meet on the oldest bridge in Paris and fall madly in love. Carax follows closely the vagrants while they perform all sorts of crazy gigs for money, but his film is just as determined to show a side of the city most people that live there are completely unaware of.
Rivette's film has a similar goal. In it Rivette also unites two complete strangers and then sends them on a journey through the back alleys of Paris. The romance from Carax's film, however, is replaced with a vague conspiracy which essentially opens up the plot of the film for endless improvisations.
During the second half of the film, Baptiste also becomes something of a female version of Jean-Paul Belmondo's character in Jean-Luc Godard's Pierrot le fou -- there is a lot that happens in her head that makes some sense only to Marie, who does not seem to mind her rapid mood swings. There are episodes where the long conversations between the two friends often seem meaningless, but while they take breaks to recharge their batteries Rivette manages to sneak in a number of very clever jokes just like Jean-Luc Godard does in his legendary film. (One of the best has something to do with a famous film directed by Henri-Georges Clouzot).
It is possible that the narrative's free form could frustrate viewers who feel the need to attach some logic to all of the events in the film, but I don't think that Rivette intended them to be closely linked and analyzed. Capturing the atmosphere and rhythm of life in late '70s Paris is what this film is all about.
Prior to directing Le Pont du Nord Rivette completed the short film Paris s'en va (Paris is Fading Away). This short film uses outtakes and other unused footage with the characters of Le Pont du Nord.
Le Pont du Nord was lensed by cinematographers William Lubtchansky and Caroline Champetier (Carax's Holy Motors). Lubtchansky also collaborated with Rivette on a number of his best films, including La belle noiseuse, Va savoir, and Histoire de Marie et Julien.
Le Pont du Nord is complimented by original music composed and performed by the great Argentine musician and bandoneon virtuoso Astor Piazzolla.
Le Pont du Nord Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.37:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Jacques Rivette's Le Pont du Nord arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of British distributors Eureka Entertainment.
Excluding a couple of uneven frame transitions immediately after the opening credits, the high-definition transfer is quite impressive. Detail and clarity are consistently pleasing. Virtually all of the close-ups boast excellent depth. The ones with prominent natural light look particularly good (see screencaptures #3 and 4). The panoramic shots also convey outstanding fluidity (see screencapture #5). Color reproduction is enormously satisfying - there is a wide range of warm and very natural colors that remain stable throughout the entire film. There are absolutely no traces of problematic denoising corrections. Sharpening adjustments have not been applied either. Predictably, the film has the intended by director Rivette raw look. Finally, when blown through a digital projector the film remains tight around the edges from start to finish. (Note: This is a Region-B "locked" Blu-ray release. Therefore, you must have a native Region-B or Region-Free PS3 or SA in order to access its content).
Le Pont du Nord Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There is only one standard audio track on this Blu-ray disc: French LPCM 1.0. For the record, Eureka Entertainment have provided optional English subtitles for the main feature.
Excluding a few short sequences where themes from two beautiful tracks composed and performed by the great Astor Piazzolla are used, Le Pont du Nord is primarily a dialog-driven feature (parts of the film do not have any dialog at all). Unsurprisingly, dynamic intensity is rather limited. However, the dialog is exceptionally crisp, clean, and easy to follow. For the record, there are no pops, cracks, problematic background hiss, or distortions to report in this review. The English translation is excellent.
Le Pont du Nord Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Le Pont du Nord Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
As a big admirer of Bulle Ogier and her work, I couldn't be happier with Eureka Entertainment's decision to bring Jacques Rivette's Le Pont du Nord to Blu-ray. The film has been virtually impossible to track down on DVD in English-friendly territories, so to have it on Blu-ray is a very, very special treat. This beautiful release gives me hope that eventually we could also see an English-friendly release of another elusive film with Ogier, Alain Tanner's terrific The Salamander. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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Le Pont du Nord Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Le Pont du Nord Blu-ray - June 13, 2013
British distributors Eureka Entertainment have officially announced and detailed their upcoming Blu-ray release of acclaimed French director Jacques Rivette's Le Pont du Nord (1981), starring Bulle Ogier, Pascale Ogier, Pierre Clémenti. The release will be available ...
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