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Children at Play: Jacques Rivette's Apprentice Films

Aux quatre coinsOrigins in art are forever in doubt. Popular culture seems to imagine that what we now call the French New Wave emerged from thin air with François Truffaut's The 400 Blows (1959) and Jean-Luc Godard's Breathless (1960), but that blinkered narrative ignores features ranging from Agnès Varda’s Le pointe courte (1955) and Claude Chabrol’s Le beau Serge (1958) to Alain Resnais and Marguerite Duras’s Hiroshima, mon amour (1959). Even before these, the filmmakers we associate—through later fame, scandal, obscurity, venerability, and legend—with the New Wave made short films, a medium encouraged by the theatrical practice, now long gone in France, of regularly exhibiting dramatic and documentary short films in cinemas. Early shorts by Jacques Demy, Chris Marker, Truffaut, Godard, and others reach back into the mid-50s, but only two of the New Wave’s anointed truly began their filmmaking at the halfway point of the 20th century: Eric Rohmer,

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