by Jack Wareham
It’s been said that people reach middle age once they realize that they’ll never read Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past, which spans seven volumes and an impressive 4,200 pages.
Well, I’ve already given up on that novel. My version of Proust is Out 1 – the 1971 magnum opus of French New Wave director Jacques Rivette. It clocks in at almost thirteen hours, making it the third longest film ever to receive theatrical release.
I bought the 7-disc DVD box set last April on a whim and it’s been taunting me from my bookshelf ever since, enticing me with its sleek, modernist spine and whispering at me in my weakest moments: “I know you’ll never watch me.” Even Out 1’s subtitle, Noli Me Tangere, is a cruel joke; translated from Latin, it means Touch Me Not.
Sometimes I can even hear Rivette’s thickly-accented voice, coarsened by tens of thousands of cigarettes, posthumously trash-talking me as I consider watching his masterpiece of the avant-garde: “Jack, just sell me on e-bay already. You don’t have the endurance. Go and re-watch Breathless like the basic film student I know you are.”
It’s not like I haven’t tried to watch it, okay? In fact, I’ve watched the first three hours over two normal-movie-length sessions. I would be lying if I said it wasn’t somewhat challenging (especially the extra-long, single-take sequences of an experimental theatre troupe screaming together). But overall, I thought Out 1’s fuzzy orange color palette and moody paranoia were genuinely mind-altering – even borderline psychedelic.
I would start from the beginning and watch the whole thing in a heartbeat… but I’d like a buddy or two to help motivate me. So, please watch Out 1 with me. We can split it up over a few days or something.
For comparison, season five of The Office is a full hour longer than Rivette’s chef-d’œuvre, and I’ll wager you’ve watched that at least twice.
Plus, it would be pretty cool to say you’ve done it. Prove those Gen Xers wrong when they complain about our weak attention spans and over-stimulated minds.
My email is firstname.lastname@example.org; serious inquiries only.