After having completed the final cut of L’amour par terre in late 1983, Jacques Rivette was at liberty to attend the retrospective exhibition devoted to the work of artist and theatre decorator Balthus (Balthasar Klossowski de Rola), which had just opened at the Musée National d’Art Moderne-Centre Georges Pompidou. Rivette had long been an ardent admirer of Balthus, and was already familiar with reproductions of the drawings that the artist had produced in the mid-1930s for an edition of Emily Brontë’s nineteenth-century novel, Wuthering Heights (1847), which was to have been published by Gallimard. He was delighted by the exhibition where he found himself entranced by the original tableaux, enclosed in what he describes in a 2003 interview as a “small, separate room – a kind of tablier, as one says in old French” where all of the final India ink drawings as well as the preliminary pencil sketches were on display.1 He was particularly struck by the clean sharp lines that defined Balthus’s figures and the sparseness of the rooms they occupied, a minimalist approach that was markedly different from that of William Wyler whose 1939 Hollywood adaptation, according to Rivette, reduced Brontë’s novel to a giddily orchestrated costume drama “that made no sense whatsoever with all those ball scenes sprinkled everywhere.”2 Rivette’s transformative encounter with Balthus’s willful, brooding illustrations of Brontë renewed his desire to return to the difficult terrain of literary adaptation for the first time since La Religieuse (The Nun, 1966), the banned adaptation of Denis Diderot’s eighteenth-century novel.

Indeed, the focus of Brontë’s novel recalls that of La Religieuse: both recount the tragic destiny of a woman whose passion is curtailed due to the exacting demands of rigid social codes and an oppressive moral regime. Brontë’s work recounts, from the retrospective narration of an inquisitive onlooker, the impact of the “gypsy brat” Heathcliff on Catherine Earnshaw and her family, who are landowners and farmers within late eighteenth-century England. Both Cathy and Heathcliff are passionate beings, who take profound pleasure in the natural mysteries of the moors, while remaining oblivious to the worldly concerns of material wealth and class status that predominate within both the Earnshaw and the nearby Linton households. As time passes, Cathy matures into a young woman whose desire to enter the world of genteel sociability impels her to marry the refined Edgar Linton, a product of the more prosperous, civilised culture of Thrushcross Grange. The first part of the novel unfolds around the turmoil in Cathy who must ultimately decide between the two men, Linton and Heathcliff, and the opposed worldviews that they embody. Her inability to commit fully to either finally destroys her. The opening chapter of Volume II in which Cathy dies in Heathcliff’s arms provides an equivocal resolution to the first volume of the novel and also, Rivette’s adaptation.

If Balthus’s tableaux provided Rivette with the impetus to film the novel, the surrealist milieu within which these tableaux were produced would lend his project an additional dimension. Although Balthus was never a surrealist, he allowed 8 of the 14 illustrations that he had completed for the planned French edition of Wuthering Heights to appear in the surrealist journal Minotaure in 1935. Like Balthus, Spanish filmmaker Luis Buñuel had been part of the spirit of the times. Rivette points out: “. . . Buñuel, Balthus and so on knew each other. They used to gravitate around the surrealists, while retaining their independence.”3 Buñuel had been part of the same circles in Paris as the younger eccentric painter, whose work had been exhibited in 1934 at the Galerie Pierre, a Mecca for surrealist artists, and whose Brontë illustrations had been framed within Minotaure as an expression of “nature’s nocturnal side.”4 Rivette observes: “So it [Wuthering Heights] was in the air for this little group, . . .” and explicitly points to “[Balthus’s] drawings, [which] by the way, were more or less contemporary with Buñuel’s first desire to film the novel.”5 Indeed, Buñuel had completed his screenplay at around this time for an adaptation of Brontë’s novel, Abismos de Pasión, a film project that was not realised until 1953 when Buñuel was working within the parameters of commercial Mexican cinema. Perhaps it was the unforgiving landscape of Buñuel’s Mexican film adaptation that had tempted Rivette “to make a film with a very stormy atmosphere, with the idea of “wilderness” which had been completely absent from all I [Rivette] had done before.6 The rumbling thunderclaps that break over the film’s opening titles portend the furor of Hurlevent; they could also be read as a dutiful homage to Buñuel whose death in the summer of 1983, just months prior to the Balthus exhibition, may have provided Rivette with yet another pressing reason to attempt the Brontë adaptation.

Like Buñuel, Rivette wanted to set the novel within his homeland: he shifted its locale from the eighteen-century Yorkshire moors where Brontë’s story takes place to the Ardèche in southern France in the early 1930s. His choice of this remote rural region reflects his awareness of its historical associations with French Protestantism and thus, his desire to remain faithful to the Anglican tenor of Brontë’s novel. Unsurprisingly, he chose for the film’s story to unfold during the interwar era, which, of course, corresponds to the time frame within which Balthus and Buñuel had worked on Brontë. The dark sexuality that is expressed in both their works, and that defines the novel’s story, resonates with the ethos of the early 1930s when, as art historian Jean Clair reminds us, “a whole Sade-inspired current invaded literature and the arts.”7 Representations of erotic violence were not uncommon, and Clair points specifically to the work of surrealist artist André Masson, whose Massacres (1932-33), which depicted a woman being assaulted and stabbed to death, were published in full-page spreads of Minotaure. 8 Clair maintains that the voyeuristic desire for sexual violence was further stimulated by fait divers that detailed everyday crime events in France.9 The macabre murders perpetrated by the Papin sisters under the shadow of incest shook the provincial city of Le Mans to its core in 1933. As Rachel Edwards and Keith Reader point out in the introduction to their definitive study, The Papin Sisters, “Their killings inspired the Surrealists Éluard and Peret, were analysed in the article that first brought Jacques Lacan’s work to a wider public, [and] served as the basis for Genet’s Les Bonnes, . . ..”10 The zeitgeist of the early 1930s is resonant within Rivette’s adaptation that unfolds across the raw, windswept hills of the Cévennes where Catherine (played by Fabienne Babe) and Roch/Heathcliff (played by Lucas Belvaux) forge their tragic, inextricable bond.

Guillaume’s Dream: Poussin and an Ovidian Cyclops

Jacques Rivette Hurlevent

Fig.1 – Nicolas Poussin, “Polyphemus Spying on Acis and Galatea”. (Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2016)

The film’s opening scene intentionally foregrounds the world of dream. A man’s furtive gaze frames the lithe bodies of a young man and woman who are lying together out in the open on a rutted slab of granite rock not far from where their unobserved onlooker is hovering. As they fondle and caress each other, he watches their provocative gestures, overhearing their mutual declarations of love. Rivette’s co-scenarist Pascal Bonitzer confirms that this dramatic moment was based on seventeenth-century painter Nicolas Poussin’s mythological scene, “Polyphemus Spying on Acis and Galatea,” which had been part of a series of 15 pen-and-wash drawings inspired by the poet Ovid’s Metamorphoses.11 (Fig. 1) Rivette models his triangulated mise-en-scène of voyeuristic desire on Poussin’s tableau in which the Cyclops Polyphemus surprises a pair of young lovers, the Nereid Galatea and the beautiful Sicilian shepherd Avis. According to Ovid in Metamorphoses, Polyphemus hurls a rock that crushes his competitor Avis, whose blood Galatea then transforms into a stream. In Rivette’s film, the voyeur is prevented from gratifying his murderous intent, for just as he grabs a stone to throw at the lovers, he becomes suddenly aware of another observer, an older gentleman who is overseeing his actions from his elevated station on the rock face. (Fig. 2) At that point, an unexpected cut forces us to retrospectively frame the opening scene as the dream of Guillaume/Hindley Earnshaw (played by Olivier Cruveiller), who upon awakening at Hurlevent recognises that he has merely dreamt the erotic interlude between his sister Catherine and Roch, the foundling whom their father had taken in years earlier. This scenario that plays out within the space of dream, where Guillaume’s incestuous desire, jealous rage, and fear of paternal interdiction are openly expressed, mirrors the “real” events that transpire at Hurlevent. Rivette refrains from the use of cinematic devices, such as blurred focus, slow motion, or unusual sound effects, that would set the scene apart as a dream and thus, renders it indistinguishable from subsequent scenes in the film that purport to objectively portray the characters’ relationships. From the outset, Rivette intentionally effaces the boundaries between the worlds of reality and dream. In doing so, he remains attentive to the spirit of the novel, for as Brontë scholar Pauline Nestor observes, “the whole world of the novel is dreamlike. . . . Its transgressions of identity, sexuality and taboo are those of a dream state, which offers an uncensored realm, free from the strictures of logic, a space where boundaries do not hold.”12 In choosing to open the film with a dream modelled on a mythic scene, which is not found in the novel, Rivette accords the dream a special status, underscoring its role in Brontë as “a crucial source of knowledge and understanding.”13

Jacques Rivette Hurlevent

Fig. 2 – Guillaume, a Cyclops

A Balthusian Vision

The two additional dream scenes that appear in the middle and at the end of the film are the most important modifications Rivette makes to Brontë’s story. The reoccurrence of dreams recalls their importance in the post-surrealist films of David Lynch and Buñuel.14 Buñuel affirms that in Belle de Jour (1967), “. . . the real and imaginary dissolve into each other. I myself couldn’t say what is real and what is imaginary in the film”15 The perverse violence inalterably allied with sexuality, which underlies Belle de Jour and to some degree the entire Buñuelian oeuvre, inflects all of Balthus’s work. His ink illustrations, in particular, reflect his enduring preoccupation with the febrile sexuality of adolescents, isolated in rooms that remain closed off from the outside world. It was Balthus’s approach to the representation of juvenility that may have prompted Rivette to imagine, “a movie in which Catherine and Heathcliff were the age they actually are in the novel. Because in the Wyler movie they are 30 and in the Buñuel movie 30 or 40. . . . So I felt like making a movie with some very young actors.”16 Rivette was enthralled by Balthus’s depictions of adolescence, which visionary dramatist Antonin Artaud characterised in 1936 as “angular and choked with rage.”17 Rivette models the mise-en-scène of his film on Balthus’s tableaux, enabling him to capture the violence and feverish intensity of adolescence within the cryptic atmosphere of Wuthering Heights.

Beyond a predilection for exteriorised violence, it was Balthus’s predisposition toward the esoteric and the magical in his paintings that attracted the interest of Artaud. In “La Jeune Peinture française et la tradition”, Artaud located the place of Balthus’s work: “Beyond the surrealist revolution, beyond the forms of classic academicism, the revolutionary painting of Balthus rejoins a tradition of mystery.”18 Artaud had demonstrated his respect for the painter the previous year, calling upon his skills as a theatre decorator for his 1935 production of Les Cenci, the only full-length play that Artaud had written and produced. This highly unique performance that dealt with incest, patricide and revenge is viewed by many scholars as the only authentic manifestation of Artaud’s ideal theatre, the Theatre of Cruelty (Le Théâtre de la cruauté).19 In articulating his revolutionary conception of an ideal theatre, Artaud demanded that the physical components of mise-en-scène, including sets, costumes, lighting, gesture, and movement, take precedence over the articulated word, thus “giving to words approximately the importance they have in dreams.”20 Artaud considered Balthus, whose sensibility had been steeped in authentic surrealist thought and its soundings of the domain of the unconscious, well suited to stage the Theatre of Cruelty. At one point, he describes the artist’s style in terms of atmospheric and physiological tumult, intimating its compatibility with the subject of Les Cenci and also that of Wuthering Heights: “I don’t know why Balthus’s painting smells as it does of the plague, storms, and epidemics.”21 In the mid-1930s, Artaud discovered in Balthus a contemporary who could “illustrate” the Theatre of Cruelty, and five decades later, Rivette returns to this iconoclastic illustrator whose ink drawings would provide the basis for his film adaptation. “I want,” Balthus proclaimed, “to put in them [illustrations] many things, tenderness, childish longing, dreams, love, death, cruelty, crime, violence, cries of hatred, howls, and tears!”22

Transposing the Balthus Tableau

Jacques Rivette Hurlevent

Fig. 3 – Balthus, “Because Cathy taught him what she learnt” 1932-1935, Private Collection

The first illustration that Balthus produces of the novel, captioned “Because Cathy taught him what she learnt”, shows Catherine and Heathcliff as integrally connected, despite the torment that Heathcliff had suffered at the hands of the Earnshaw family. Cathy is kneeling on the floor writing in her notebook, while Heathcliff leans over a table, his knee bent in a triangular shape that is aligned with the horizontal line of her pose. (Fig. 3) The composition of bodies and decor is pyramidal, formed by the interrelation of triangles and rectangles, which is constructed to show the growing rapport between the two.23 Balthus worked directly from Brontë’s text, as does Rivette: “He [Heathcliff] bore his degradation pretty well at first, because Cathy taught him what she learnt, . . ..”24 Rivette takes certain liberties with the sequencing of events, however. Rivette transposes Balthus’s illustration that shows Cathy and Heathcliff’s attachment to each other so that in the film, the scene reflects her increasing disenchantment with Roch (Heathcliff). When Catherine returns to Hurlevent following her convalescence at the Lindons (Lintons), the conspicuous transformation in her dress and behaviour due to the Lindons’ influence angers Roch. After a heated exchange with him, Catherine retreats to a remote room where she stands before a full-length mirror and gazes admiringly at her new image. (Fig. 4) She is surprised to discover Roch quietly watching her from the corner of the room. The bare film set preserves the austerity of Balthus’s tableau, yet is curiously updated so that the crude wooden table in Balthus’s composition is transformed into a pool table, and Catherine’s final pose, a seductive rather than a scholastic gesture. As though to taunt Roch, she suggestively sprawls across the pool table, with her knee bent upwards triangularly. (Fig. 5) The provocation of her seductive pose, which recalls that of the lovers’ embrace in Guillaume’s opening dream, is alluringly accessible to the profilmic spectator who is permitted to peek beneath her skirt yet remains unavailable to Roch. The dialogue is also subtly indicative, as Catherine states: “We don’t need chairs anymore to reach the table. I always won, anyway.” Roch replies, “You always made up the rules.” While Rivette preserves the geometrical composition of Balthus’s tableau, the rectangular shapes of the window, doorframe, and pool table work to segregate rather than integrate the triangular, oblique shapes of the characters’ bodies. Balthus’s tableau shows the couple as compositionally integrated – one dependent on the other – whereas Rivette’s scenic composition shows them irrevocably separated. Rivette models his scene on Balthus’s illustration, analysing and transforming it to form his own portrait of the twosome.

Jacques Rivette Hurlevent

Fig. 4 – Catherine observes her new image

Jacques Rivette Hurlevent

Fig 5. – Catherine taunts Roch

Catherine’s Dream: The Myth of Narcissus

Rivette invents a second dream scene that is inspired by Balthus’s illustration of Brontë’s text in which Cathy asks her servant “Nelly, do you sometimes dream queer dreams?” and then discloses her true feelings for Heathcliff. In the novel as in the film, this scene unfolds as Catherine, unaware of Heathcliff’s presence, insists on telling Nelly of a dream that worries her. In the dream, she awakens, weeping with joy, to find that she has been chased from heaven and that she is back in “the middle of the heath on the top of Wuthering Heights.”25 She ruminates that she loves Heathcliff because “He’s more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same, . . ..”26 In Brontë’s novel as in the film, Heathcliff overhears only the part of the conversation where Catherine confides to Nelly: “It would degrade me to marry Heathcliff now; . . .”27 Whereas Rivette faithfully adapts this scene from the novel, Balthus’s illustration of it, as curator Virginie Monnier observes, significantly modifies Brontë’s text that describes Cathy kneeling by Nelly to instead show her lying on the floor at Nelly’s feet.28 (Fig. 6) Monnier furthermore maintains that Catherine’s unusual position, particularly that of her legs, in the illustration of this scene is authorised not by Brontë’s text, but by Nicolas Poussin’s painting, Echo and Narcissus (1627) that Balthus had copied at the Louvre in 1925.29 (Fig. 7) Poussin had been inspired by Ovid’s legend of Echo and Narcissus, Monnier advises, particularly its intricate imagery “of the double, of love and death.”30 In Metamorphoses, Ovid recounts that Narcissus was distinguished from birth for his beauty and was promised a long life provided he never look at his own features. His rejection of the love of the mountain nymph Echo, however, drew upon him the vengeance of the gods. He falls in love with his own reflection in the waters of a spring and pines away, intoning: “And when I stretch my arms to you/ You stretch your arms to me, and when I smile/ You smile, and when I weep, I’ve often seen/ Your tears, and to my nod your nod replies, / And your sweet lips appear to move in speech, / Though to my ears your answer cannot reach.” 31 The symbolism that Balthus finds in Poussin’s rendering of Ovid Rivette elaborates on in his film.

Jacques Rivette Hurlevent

Fig. 6 – Balthus, “Nelly, do you sometimes dream queer dreams?” 1932-1935, Private Collection

Jacques Rivette Hurlevent

Fig. 7 – Nicolas Poussin, Echo and Narcissus (1627)
Musée du Louvre, Paris. Photographe, Querrec Tony, Réunion des musées nationaux, 2012.

In all likelihood, Rivette initially encountered the pairing of Balthus and Poussin in Artaud’s 1947 piece, “Balthus, faits remontant à 1934: La misère peintre”, in which the dramaturge proposes this upended connection between the two painters: “I have to finally say what has been burning my lips for more than twenty years because what all the world will say will be exactly the contrary of what I am going to say . . . It is that Balthus will have been the precursor, in our era, of Holbein, of Ingres, of Corot, of Courbet and of Poussin. . .. It is Balthus who created Poussin and not Poussin who created Balthus.”32 Artaud’s paean to the artist was reprinted in the October, 1983 issue of Art Press, along with short pieces by Philippe Sollers and Olivier Poivre d’Arvor, to coincide with the opening of the Balthus exposition at Beaubourg. Rivette may have interpreted Artaud’s closing words as a provocation: “. . . it would require a hundred billion eternities and successive layers to achieve what Balthus achieved better than Poussin, Corot or Courbet: a human hand calloused with life, with a well-lit exterior, that is not cinematographic but painted.33 Rivette returns to the Balthusian tableau in Hurlevent, in order to reimagine the “cinematographic” from a post-New Wave perspective.

Rivette’s second dream scene draws on the stillness and statuesque poses of the artists’ tableaux, presenting an unsettling vision that bisects the film. Following her desperate and unsuccessful search over the moors for Roch, Catherine is beset by another “queer dream” in which Roch silently comes to her bedside, blindfolds her with his hands, and leads her to a private chamber, which is bare except for a standing mirror. (Fig. 8) There is no dialogue, only the dissonant strains of The Mystery of the Bulgarian Voices (Le mystère des voix bulgares), whose unearthly chant laments their unrequited love. Catherine and Roch stand face to face and watch only each other; Roch exposes his arms to Catherine that are covered in blood, which he sees has been smeared onto her. Each seems to imitate the other’s motions, miming each other’s hands, gestures, and facial expressions. Then, Roch abruptly collapses onto the ground, assuming an unusual position, not unlike that of Poussin’s Narcissus. (Fig. 9) The scene’s final composition stands apart, not only because it corresponds closely to those of Poussin and Balthus, but because it is unauthorised by the literary text.

Jacques Rivette Hurlevent

Fig. 8 – Catherine’s Dream – Roch blindfolds Catherine

Jacques Rivette Hurlevent

Fig. 9 – Catherine’s Dream – Roch collapses

The film draws on the myth of Narcissus and, through the invocation of Poussin’s Echo and Narcissus, underscores it in this scene. From the commencement of Catherine’s dream, the mythic resonance of Narcissus is evident – even in the characters’ comportment. Roch blindfolds Catherine, forbidding her to gaze at her own features in either the mirror that they pass exiting her bedroom or in the standing mirror in the uninhabited room they then enter. Similar to Narcissus’s rejection of Echo, Catherine has rejected Roch. Indeed, she prefers her own image to him, brushing him aside to continue preening before the mirror to prepare for her rendezvous with Olivier Lindon. (Fig. 10) Roch’s symbolic death in her dream presages her own at the film’s close, for, like Narcissus, she will pine away and bring about her own demise. The scenic composition of Catherine’s dream purposefully recalls that of Poussin’s Narcissus and Echo in which the mythic figures of Narcissus, Echo and Amor are separated from each other, for, as art historian Oskar Bätschmann observes, “no emotion bridges the distance, and the social i.e., the physical and spiritual, connection is broken34 Catherine’s transgressive rejection of Roch- – like Narcissus’s rejection of Echo – ultimately condemns her to death. Roch admonishes Catherine as she dies, “You deserved your fate. You killed yourself.”

Jacques Rivette Hurlevent

Fig. 10 – Catherine rejects Roch

Roch’s Dream: An Echo

The final elliptical dream scene of the film is based upon the opening of Brontë’s novel in which the new tenant Mr Lockwood, who has bedded down in the chamber of the deceased Catherine at Wuthering Heights, awakens from a mysterious, horrifying nightmare. In the film, it is Roch who, desolate after Catherine’s death, returns to her room at Hurlevent and experiences the same “queer dream” recounted by Lockwood in the novel. Lying on Catherine’s bed, he is troubled by the howling wind from the moors and the sound of tree branches thrashing the windowpane. Catherine and Roch exchange roles in the scene: here, it is Roch who encounters his own cadaverous reflection in the mirror, while it is Catherine who assumes the persona of the nymph Echo, whose love for Narcissus made her fade away until all that was left of her was her voice. (Fig. 11) Ovid in Metamorphoses describes her plight: “Only her voice and bones are left; at last/ Only her voice, her bones are turned to stone. / So in the woods she hides and hills around/ For all to hear, alive, but just a sound.”35 Rivette closes his film with Catherine’s bodily disappearance, focusing instead on the melancholy endurance of her voice, supplicating: “Roch, Roch, let me come in, let me come in.” Wandering the savage moors alone, her soul is destined to remain perpetually in search of its corporal “double” Roch, as he is condemned to be haunted by her plaintive refrain. The final image shows him attempting to reach through the broken windowpane to grasp her hand, but inevitably failing. (Fig. 12) The chilling incantation of the Bulgarian choir provides a counterpoint to her refrain, returning us, once more, to Ovid’s text: “His [Narcissus’s] Naiad sisters wailed and sheared their locks/ In mourning for their brother; the Dryads too/Wailed and sad Echo wailed in answering woe.36 

Jacques Rivette Hurlevent

Fig. 11 – Roch observes his mirror image

Jacques Rivette Hurlevent

Fig. 12 – Roch attempts to grab Catherine’s hand


Rivette’s reflection that, “There are two kinds of filmmakers, those for whom painting serves as a departure point, and those who arrive there following their journey,” reveals his own relation to the tableau, which throughout his career served him both as a departure point and as a point of return.37 In Hurlevent, pictorial tableaux provide crucial points of mediation between the dream and the everyday, between nature and culture, self and other, life and death. Rivette returns to the tableau almost a decade later in his adaptation of Honoré de Balzac’s nineteenth-century novella, La belle noiseuse (1991), not unlike the Balzacian painter Frenhofer, after having abandoned it for certain period of time to explore alternative modes of theatricality and their relation to the process of artistic production.38 In his final adaptation, Ne touchez pas la hache (Don’t Touch the Axe; 2007), he conceptualizes the structure of Balzac’s novella as a series of brilliantly choreographed tableaux, revisiting the themes of frustrated desire and possession that, to a greater or lesser degree, inspire all his adaptations.

The dynamics of possession and surrender, desire and loss that drive the film, and Brontë’s novel, also engage Rivette as metteur-en-scène, who asserts that the notion of “possession” is at the core of cinematic, pictorial, and literary representations: “‘Possession, possession . . . La possession est impossible.’ Of course, a painter, a writer, a metteur-en-scène fantasizes about the idea of possession, all the while knowing that it doesn’t exist . . ..”39 The notion of possession characterizes Rivette’s approach to the adaptation of the novel. As a metteur-en-scène, Rivette realizes from the outset that it will be impossible to fully possess and thereby, reproduce the literary text, yet he is nonetheless fascinated by the possibility. It is more than mere coincidence that the tableau figures centrally in each film adaptation, for it emblematically embodies the seductive possibility of possession, of delimiting the spatial infinity that might be the provenance of cinema. The conjoining of tableau and filmic scene within each of Rivette’s film adaptations subtends the filmmaker’s fantasy of possession of the literary text; however, Rivette also recognizes that his illusion of possession, which propels the adaptation, must remain unattainable, as it is premised on a denial of cinema’s domain that ultimately extends to that “diffuse space without shape or frontiers that surrounds the screen.”40 Rivette finally confesses that, “Painting is among the greatest temptations of the cinema, yet at the same time, it is only a temptation, since everyone already knows that cinema is also the contrary of painting.”41

Note: all translations are my own, and with the assistance of Dr Peter Low, Senior Lecturer in French, University of Canterbury, unless otherwise indicated.



Antonin Artaud, “Balthus” (1947), Art Press no. 39 (July 1980), p. 4.

Antonin Artaud, “Balthus faits remontant à 1934 : La misère peintre.” 1947. Art Press 74 (October 1983), pp. 5-6.

Antonin Artaud, “La Jeune Peinture française et la tradition” (1936), Oeuvres complètes vol. VIII (Paris: Editions Gallimard, 1971), p. 248-253.

Jacques Aumont, “Renoir le Patron, Rivette le Passeur” in Le théâtre dans le cinéma No. 3 of the Conférences du collège d’histoire de l’art cinématographique. Ed. Jacques Aumont with the assistance of Alain Philippon. Paris: Cinémathèque française, Musée du Cinéma, Winter 1992-93, pp. 217-36.

Georges Bataille, Les larmes d’éros (Paris: Éditions Pauvert, 1961).

Oskar Bätschmann, Nicolas Poussin: Dialectics of Painting (London: Reaktion Books, 1990).

André Bazin, What Is Cinema? vol. I. Comp. and trans. Hugh Gray (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1967), p. 107.

Pascal Bonitzer, Interview. “Histoires de Scénarios: par Pascal Bonitzer” in Jacques Rivette: Six films, versions intégrales. Arte-Vidéo France, 2002. DVD box edition.

Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights (London: Penguin Books, Ltd., 2000).

Jean Clair, “From the Rue to the Chambre, A Mythology of the Passage” in Jean Clair (ed.), Balthus (London: Thames & Hudson, Ltd., 2001), pp. 17-34.

“Conférence de presse (extraits): Jacques Rivette, Cannes 1991”, Cahiers du cinéma no. 445 (July 1991): p. 34.

Rachel Edwards and Keith Reader, The Papin Sisters (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001).

Virginie Monnier, “Catalog of Works: Before the War (1932-39)” in Jean Clair (ed.), Balthus (London: Thames & Hudson, Ltd., 2001), pp. 199-272.

“Narcissus.” Encyclopedia Britannica. Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica Inc., 2016. Web. 3 May 2016.

Pauline Nestor, “Introduction” in Emily Bronte, Wuthering Heights (London: Penguin Books, Ltd., 2000).

Justus Nieland, David Lynch (Springfield: University of Illinois, 2012).

Ovid, Metamorphoses, trans. A.D. Melville (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998).

Jacques Rivette, Interview by Valérie Hazette. “Hurlevent: Jacques Rivette’s Adaptation of Wuthering Heights.” Senses of Cinema no. 29 (December 2003): n. pag. Web. 10 May 2016.

Eric Sellin, The Dramatic Concepts of Antonin Artaud (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1968)

Michael Wood, Belle de Jour, BFI Film Classics (London: British Film Institute, 2000).



  1. Jacques Rivette, interview with Valérie Hazette in “Hurlevent: Jacques Rivette’s Adaptation of Wuthering Heights,” Senses of Cinema no. 29 (December 2003). Accessed 10 May, 2016. See also Hélène Frappat’s comparative illustrations, which show the relationship between Balthus and Rivette in Jacques Rivette, secret compris (Paris: Cahiers du cinéma, 2001).
  2. Ibid.
  3. Ibid.
  4. Quoted in Jean Clair, “From the Rue to the Chambre, A Mythology of the Passage” in Jean Clair (ed.), Balthus (London: Thames & Hudson, Ltd., 2001), p. 21.
  5. Rivette, interview with Hazette
  6. Ibid.
  7. Clair, p. 21.
  8. Ibid., pp. 21-22.
  9. Ibid., 21.
  10. Rachel Edwards and Keith Reader, The Papin Sisters (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001), p. 2.
  11. Pascal Bonitzer, “Histoires de Scénarios : par Pascal Bonitzer” in Jacques Rivette : Six films, versions intégrales Arte-Vidéo France, 2002. DVD box edition. Bonitzer mentions that Poussin’s tableau appears in surrealist philosopher Georges Bataille’s late work, Les larmes d’éros (Paris: Éditions Pauvert, 1961), p. 141. It is accompanied by this legend: “Poussin’s erotic obsession, which in theory runs counter to his classicism, apparently came to nothing. . . If he betrayed himself, it was above all in an unused sketch.” (trans. Peter Connor in The Tears of Eros, San Francisco: City Lights Books, 1989). Bataille’s text clearly served Bonitzer and Rivette as a point of reference; Balthus’s masterful work, La Chambre (1952-54) and Masson’s Massacre also appear in it.
  12. Pauline Nestor, Introduction in Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë (London: Penguin Books, Ltd., 2000), xxx; emphasis added.
  13. Ibid., xxix-xxx.
  14. For a smart recent attempt to address Lynch’s status as a surrealist in the context of contemporary media culture, see Justus Nieland’s David Lynch (Springfield: University of Illinois, 2012).
  15. Luis Buñuel, quoted in Michael Wood, Belle de Jour BFI Film Classics (London: British Film Institute, 2000), p. 45.
  16. Rivette, interview with Hazette.
  17. Antonin Artaud, “La Jeune Peinture française et la tradition” (1936), in Oeuvres Complètes vol. 8 (Paris: Éditions Gallimard, 1971), p. 253.
  18. Ibid., p. 249.
  19. Eric Sellin, The Dramatic Concepts of Antonin Artaud (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1968), p. 112.
  20. Artaud, quoted in Sellin, p. 84.
  21. Antonin Artaud, “Balthus” (February 1947), Art Press no. 39 (July 1980): p. 4.
  22. Balthus quoted in Virginie Monnier, “Catalog of Works: Before the War (1932-39)” in Jean Clair (ed.), Balthus (London: Thames & Hudson, Ltd., 2001), p. 204.
  23. Monnier, p. 206.
  24. Emily Brontë. Wuthering Heights (London: Penguin Books, Ltd., 2000), p. 46.
  25. Ibid., p. 81.
  26. Ibid.
  27. Ibid.
  28. Monnier, 216.
  29. Ibid.
  30. Ibid.
  31. Ovid, Metamorphoses, trans. A.D. Melville (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998), p. 64.
  32. Antonin Artaud, “Balthus, faits remontant à 1934 : La misère peintre” (1947), Art Press no. 74 (October 1983): p. 6.
  33. Ibid.
  34. Oskar Bätschmann. Nicolas Poussin: Dialectics of Painting (London: Reaktion Books, 1990), p. 66.
  35. Ovid, p. 63.
  36. Ovid, p. 66.
  37. Jacques Aumont, “Renoir le Patron, Rivette le Passeur” in Le théâtre dans le cinéma, no. 3 of the Conférences du collège d’histoire de l’art cinématographique, ed. Jacques Aumont with the assistance of Alain Philippon (Paris : Cinémathèque française, Musée du Cinéma, Winter 1992-93), p. 217. Of course, Rivette’s first adaptation Suzanne Simonin, la religieuse de Denis Diderot (The Nun; released 1966) must be considered his “point of departure” where he returns to Diderot’s notion of the tableau to discover a source of fascination dependent upon a theatrical and pictorial aesthetic.
  38. Awarded the Grand Prix at the 1991 Cannes Film Festival, La belle noiseuse is an adaptation of Balzac’s novella, Le chef d’oeuvre inconnu (The Unknown Masterpiece, 1837). It is an intriguing coincidence that the story of Le chef d’oeuvre inconnu features an aspiring artist named “Nicolas Poussin.”.
  39. Jacques Rivette, quoted in “Conférence de presse (extraits): Jacques Rivette, Cannes 1991,” Cahiers du cinéma 445 (July 1991), p. 34.
  40. André Bazin, What Is Cinema? vol. 1, comp. and trans. Hugh Gray (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1967), p. 107.
  41. Rivette, quoted in “Conférence de presse” p. 34.