Prisma #54

Out 1 (Jacques Rivette, 1971)

In the middle of an apartment, two toddlers, two women, a man, and a dog are sitting on a carpet. The adults are professional actors playing the characters Pauline, Thomas and Iris in Out 1 (1971), Jacques Rivette’s nearly thirteen-hour-long film. The children are unaware that they’re being filmed; they’re busy with their toys. In the meantime, the adults chat and fool around with the children. Pauline and one of the kids are playing with a teddy bear that supposedly has a cold. Then, suddenly, Thomas conjures up a turtle that he christens Zéphirine. Pauline, however, is worried about her missing husband. Thomas tries to reassure her and picks up a toy plane. He moves it through the air and makes shooting sounds. “See, that’s death,” he says. “Can’t you play a different game?” Pauline asks. “I play with what I find,” Thomas replies, seemingly enunciating his own strategy as an actor. Like the children, the actors in Out 1 play with “what they find.” Rivette made a film with a large group of actors without a screenplay; he only set some rules. Much like the turtle, the plane and the bear nurture the children’s playing, he mobilised disparate references, quotes and a vague plot set in a mysterious society to support the actors’ improvisation. His long, elusive Out 1 is nothing more than the documentation of this playacting. Like the children with whom they share the playmat, the actors indulge in a type of fiction that claims to represent nothing. They invent their characters and narrative lines as they go. Yet as for a child, the fact of play is not optional; through stories and fabrication, they attempt to get a grip on the world. Fiction offers them an access to reality precisely by creating something new. With their play, Rivette and his actors also create a fictional universe with its own logic that, despite its strictly imaginary nature, also changes the world itself. Out 1 is the ultimate proof that those in cinema who take form seriously can create something real.

Image from Out 1 (Jacques Rivette, 1971)

The Prisma section is a series of short reflections on cinema. A Prisma always has the same length – exactly 2000 characters – and is accompanied by one image. It is a short-distance exercise, a miniature text in which one detail or element is refracted into the spectrum of a larger idea or observation.
La rubrique Prisma est une série de courtes réflexions sur le cinéma. Tous les Prisma ont la même longueur – exactement 2000 caractères – et sont accompagnés d'une seule image. Exercices à courte distance, les Prisma consistent en un texte miniature dans lequel un détail ou élément se détache du spectre d'une penséée ou observation plus large.
De Prisma-rubriek is een reeks korte reflecties over cinema. Een Prisma heeft altijd dezelfde lengte – precies 2000 tekens – en wordt begeleid door één beeld. Een Prisma is een oefening op de korte afstand, een miniatuurtekst waarin één detail of element in het spectrum van een grotere gedachte of observatie breekt.