Around a Small Mountain, the newest effort from Jacques Rivette (La Belle Noiseuse, Oeline and Julie Go Boating), is one of those films that benefit from repeat viewings. The film starts with Vittorio (Sergio Castellito) assisting motorist Kate (Jane Birkin) with Kate’s broken-down trunk. From there, the two gradually get to know each other – Kate is a circus performer that will be leaving the city soon. Vittorio has to find a way to make eir love known to Kate, and to showcase that the life that the two could spend together would be substantially better than eking out a living at the circus. There is a fluidity present in the film that does not lend itself to any particular time frame or even any area – what is told in Around A Small Mountain is something that anyone that has fallen in love will be able to understand perfectly, just like the pantomime here is understood without a question.
The video transfer that is present is absolutely stunning, allowing for a realistic set of colors that accurately capture what is being filmed, while the original French audio track is rendered perfectly. Subtitles flow naturally from the original source, without seeming obtrusive or otherwise annoying. The featurettes present on this Cinema Guild release are exhaustive, beginning with a commentary laid down by Chris Fujiwara. This narration allows viewers to properly contextualize the film while having it moored to the specific mores and beliefs of the original consumer base. The theatrical trailer also represents a way for viewers to understand the specific context in which the film should be enjoyed, while the interview present with Jane Birkin (Kate) showcases a little more of the human side of the creation of Around a Small Mountain. To provide a slightly different way to enjoy the film, an essay is also present, written by Rob White (the editor of Film Quarterly).
Around a Small Mountain (DVD) / 2011 Cinema Guild / 84 Minutes / http://www.cinemaguild.com