Rivette brings dark Balzac drama to Berlin festival

16th February 2007, Comments 0 comments

BERLIN, Feb 15, 2007 (AFP) - One of the leading directors of French New Wave cinema, Jacques Rivette, on Wednesday brought a dark 19th century romance based on a Balzac novel to the 57th Berlin Film Festival.

BERLIN, Feb 15, 2007 (AFP) - One of the leading directors of French New Wave cinema, Jacques Rivette, on Wednesday brought a dark 19th century romance based on a Balzac novel to the 57th Berlin Film Festival.

"Ne Touchez Pas La Hache" (Don't Touch The Axe), starring Jeanne Balibar and Guillaume Depardieu, is one of four French films challenging for the festival's top prize.

Rivette, whose 1991 hit "La Belle Noiseuse" (The Beautiful Troublemaker) was inspired by a Balzac novella, said he fell back on one of France's foremost writers after trying out texts by US author Henry James in vain.

"At first I was going to make a contemporary tale with Jeanne and Guillaume. As it turned out, absolutely nobody was interested in this project," he told reporters after a press screening.

"But I wanted to make a film with these two actors and so we tried to find another story. I thought of Henry James and we tried long and hard but he wanted nothing to do with our project either.

"So Balzac came through and wrote something wonderful in just three nights," the 78-year-old director joked.

The film is based on "The Duchess of Langeais" in which the title character drives an officer to distraction because she refuses to risk her privileged position in society for him.

Rivette, whose other films include "L'Amour Fou" et "La Bande des Quatre" (Gang of Four), surprised critics here by sticking to the letter of the text to make an uncompromising period drama heaving with old language and empire-style costumes.

"It is a duel of love," he said of the lovers' thwarted passion.

The film also features evergreen French actor Michel Piccoli in a supporting role.

Twenty-two films, including a few big Hollywood productions, are competing for the Berlinale's Golden Bear prize which will be awarded on Saturday.

The other French entries are Andre Techine's latest film "Les Temoins" (The Witnesses), an English-language production by Francois Ozon called "Angel" and "La Vie En Rose", which tells the story of Edith Piaf's life and opened the festival last Thursday.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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