The recurrent close scrutiny of maps in Rivette’s eight-episode serial Out 1 (1971) is an invitation to emulation that no cine-cartographer can refuse. When, at a bus stop on the Boulevard Masséna (episode 6), Quentin (Pierre Baillot) starts obsessively measuring distances between places on a map of Paris, he anticipates the kind of activity that has informed this piece, in which are raised thirteen points relating to the topography of Out 1.
1/ the Map in the Film
The members of the theatrical troupe to which Quentin belongs are trying to find Renaud (Alain Libolt), who has made off with their money. They remember that he would come to rehearsals via one of the gates of Paris, so they segment the map into seven, and each looks for Renaud at the gates in that section.
Later they remember that when in Paris he would change twice on the métro, from which they conclude that he can only have come via a gate in the south of Paris. We then see affixed to the wall only the bottom half of the map, and later still see in close up the southern segments, scribbled over with pen to indicate that they have been investigated.
The division into seven makes a connection with Aeschylus’s Seven Against Thebes, the play that the troupe is preparing. Thebes has seven gates, Paris has fifty-nine, eight of which are visited in Out 1: Porte d’Orléans, Porte d’Italie, Porte de Choisy, Porte de la Gare, Porte Dorée, Porte des Lilas, Porte de la Chapelle and Porte de Champerret. (Quentin mentions that his daughter Max has gone to the Porte de Vanves.) The places at which we see different troupe members do not, for the most part, correspond to the areas allocated to them on the map.
2/ The Map of the Film
Three of Out 1‘s thirty or so locations remain to be identified. All the known Paris locations are marked on this map. Despite its lacunae the map still shows the broad topographical tendencies of Out 1. We can see, for example, that it shares with Paris nous appartient (1961) an aversion for the 19th and 20th arrondissements, and that like Le Pont du Nord (1981) it stays strictly within the bounds of the city.
Two of the unidentified locations are cafés and one is a house.
In the first two episodes Colin (Jean-Pierre Léaud) solicits money from customers at various cafés on the Champs Elysées. The first of these is Le Deauville, a café to which he returns in the last episode.
It is tempting to see a connection between the name of this café and the film’s Normandy coast location, especially when the film’s cinematographer Pierre-William Glenn (interviewed for Robert Fischer and Wilfried Reichart’s 2015 documentary Les Mystères de Paris), says that the villa was ‘near Deauville, towards Villers’. But in fact the now-demolished villa was at Hermanville, forty kilometres from Deauville. Glenn’s false memory may be a transfer from the last shot of Léaud in Le Deauville on the Champs Elysées to the following sequence on the beach in front of the villa. The setting of this sequence, the climax of Out 1, echoes the last scene of Truffaut’s Les 400 coups, with Léaud and another vast expanse of beach. That beach was also in Normandy, at Villers to be precise.
4/ The Suburbs
From café customers on the Champs Elysées Colin solicits money in return for sealed envelopes promising the “Message of Destiny.” The envelopes contain pages randomly torn from La Banlieue, a 1961 novel by Jacques Sternberg.
There doesn’t appear to be anything in the content of the novel to connect with the preoccupations of Out 1, so it is just its (barely legible) title that signifies. Many of Rivette’s later films explore the suburbs of Paris but, save for excursions to the Normandy coast, Out 1 remains within the city limits. From those limits, at various gates of Paris, Out 1 briefly looks towards the suburbs, but it never goes there.
5/ Colin in Paris
Once he has discovered that the key to the enigma may be Balzac’s Histoire des treize, Colin uses the book to orient himself around Paris (episode 4). Walking down a narrow street he reads aloud this passage from La Duchesse de Langeais:
But these four personages shone conspicuous in that lofty sphere, of which the revolutions and hereditary pretentions are solemnly recorded year by year in the Almanach de Gotha, wherefore without some slight sketch of each of them this picture of society were incomplete.
“Left,” he declares, and turns left. A short while later he reads the end of this passage from the same text:
Armand de Montriveau, at that moment all unwittingly the object of general curiosity, better deserved attention than any of the idols that Paris needs must set up to worship for a brief space, for the city is vexed by periodical fits of craving, a passion for engouement and sham enthusiasm, which must be satisfied.
“Right,” he declares, but again turns left.
These orientations are enigmatic but not topographically coherent, since in each case Colin is on the same street, the Rue d’Argout (2nd arrondissement). The first time he is at the junction with the Rue Montmartre, facing north-east, the second time he is facing the other way, at the junction with the Rue du Louvre.
6/ Balzac’s Paris
In episode 3 Colin had sought advice about the Histoire des treize from an expert on Balzac, played by Eric Rohmer in a false beard.
Rohmer’s last words to Colin are “Read Balzac, that’s the best thing you can do,” but after the sequence is over we still hear Rohmer’s disembodied voice over the beginning of the following sequence: “There’s a wonderful passage in Ferragus, the story of some people standing under a porch in the Rue Coquillière… really marvellous… I’m going to go there…”. It isn’t at all clear whether Rohmer is still talking to Colin or whether he is speaking to someone else, to Rivette perhaps. As Rohmer speaks we see the Place de la Bastille, which is not near the street described by Balzac. Rohmer says he’s going to the Rue Coquillière but the film never does. It comes close when Colin is on the Rue du Louvre, and when he is on the Rue Montmartre he is on a street mentioned by Balzac in La Duchesse de Langeais. In episode 6 we see Colin on the Rue Tiquetonne, which is close to the Rue Marie Stuart, another street mentioned by Balzac, but overall there is no correspondence between the Parisian topography of the Histoire des treize and that of Out 1.
7/ Frédérique in Paris
Frédérique (Juliet Berto) is Out 1‘s other itinerant, seen in Montmartre, Montparnasse and the Parc Montsouris. She lives in the 5th arrondissement, but the place she frequents most, for the first four episodes at least, is the Place de la Bastille. Though often the camera is too close to her for the locale to be easily recognisable, she is shown walking there on thirteen different occasions. We see the base of the monument as she passes it, but at no moment does the camera look up to show the centre piece of the Place de la Bastille, the July Column and its statue of the Spirit of Liberty.
Frédérique also frequents two cafés and a restaurant on the Place de la Bastille.
8/ L’Angle du Hasard
Anagrammatically concealed among enigmatic octosyllabics is an address: “… deux … place … sainte … au port … une …”. Once this is discovered by Colin (episode 3), Out 1 shows the street name, “Place Sainte Opportune,” and the building number, “2.” Such toponymic exactitude is very rare in Out 1. It is remarkable, then, that the shop called “L’Angle du Hasard” which is supposed to be at number 2 Place Sainte Opportune, in the 1st arrondissement, is not there at all but at number 7 Rue du Maine, across the city in the 14th. (A poster has been carefully placed over the “Rue du Maine” sign to conceal the subterfuge.)
A title in the shortened version of Out 1 reads “Paris, et son double.” The use of two locations to represent one place is one way in which the Paris of Out 1 can be said to be double.
9/ Le Moulin Rouge
Another kind of doubling is the use of one location to represent two places. One of the two companies rehearses at a space called the Théâtre Ouvert, just off the Boulevard de Clichy in the Cité Véron behind the Moulin Rouge. The roof of the Théâtre Ouvert, with the windmill as backdrop, is used as the location for a meeting between Frédérique and the lawyer Lucie (Françoise Fabian). I don’t think we are supposed to register that this is the same place.
This is also the location for the final shoot-out between Frédérique and Renaud, but the Moulin Rouge’s windmill is not shown and there is no association with the theatre troupe, so I think this is supposed to be yet a third place represented by the one location.
10/ La Rue Caulaincourt
At the end of episode 5, Colin follows Sarah (Bernadette Lafont) to where the other theatrical troupe is rehearsing, which is somewhere off the Rue Caulaincourt, only metres from the Théâtre Ouvert and the Moulin Rouge. This other rehearsal space looks like it might be a part of the now demolished Gaumont Palace, the cinema where, in Les 400 coups, Antoine Doinel and family go to see Paris nous appartient. The Rue Caulaincourt is itself a cine-memory of Doinel, since in Les 400 coups we see Antoine and friend on this same street:
Rivette doesn’t go so far as to place Jean-Pierre Léaud, as Colin, exactly where Truffaut had placed him, though in following Sarah on the street that crosses the Montmartre cemetery Léaud can be supposed to have walked exactly where he had walked twelve years before, as Antoine.
11/ Le Théâtre de la Ville
Lucie and Elaine (Karen Puig) have a conversation near the Seine, on the Ile de la Cité, with in the background the Théâtre de la Ville on the Place du Châtelet.
This is the countershot to a shot in Paris nous appartient, the famous panorama over Paris, which begins with the camera looking down from the roof of that theatre towards the place where, twelve years later, we see these two women.
12/ Le Palais de Chaillot
The famous panorama over the Seine in Paris nous appartient has a further counterpart in Out 1, further down the Seine, in the sequences on the roof of the Palais de Chaillot. Béatrice (Edwine Moatti) meets there an ethnographer, played by former Cahiers du cinéma critic Michel Delahaye. In Jean Rouch’s Petit à Petit Delahaye is interviewed about his teeth and clothes by a reverse ethnographer.
Wearing practically the same clothes, he has stepped into Rivette’s film straight from Rouch’s film, as sign of the influence of the latter on the former.
Eight characters—Colin, Frédérique, Thomas, Quentin, Emilie, Etienne, Warok and the Balzacian—are shown in their homes. For only two is there any indication as to where in Paris they live. In six instances, then, home is not something that we can hope to localise or map. The two exceptions are the homes of Frédérique and that of the Etienne Loinod (Jacques Doniol-Valcroze), from whom Frédérique steals letters. The latter is a house behind a small park near an as yet unidentified street. Etienne’s telephone number has the area code “Mirabeau,” which means it is near Auteuil, in the 16th arrondissement. (I’ve been looking but haven’t yet found the house.)
Renaud calls Frédérique’s home “the square tower of the red queen,” a place that is “difficult to get to.” Her tower is in fact in a curious coop-like space atop a five-storey building on the Rue Blainville, in the 5th arrondissement. Her room has three windows facing north, east and south, from each of which we are shown panoramic views over Paris. To the north are the nearby towers of the Lycée Henri IV and the church of Saint Etienne du Mont, with Notre Dame beyond; to the east is the tower of the university at Jussieu; there is nothing distinctive in the view from the third window, looking south.
For more on the locations of Out 1, and to access an interactive map, go to:
Roland-François Lack teaches French and film at University College London. He is the creator of The Cine-Tourist website, devoted to places and maps in films, and is currently writing a book on “How To Map a Film.”