R.I.P. Eric Rohmer
- January 11, 2010 3:56 PM |
- By Arts Online
Filmmaker Eric Rohmer was a key figure in the French "New Wave" movement. (Marie Riviere/AFP/Getty Images)
In several of the obituary pieces that are starting to crop up online, Rohmer is quoted as saying, “Life was the screen, life was the cinema.” The words feel particularly apt coming from a filmmaker who spent the better part of his 89 years engaged with the medium he adored, even experimenting with digital video at the ripe old age of 80 when he made The Lady and the Duke in 2001.
Rohmer got his start as a critic and editor at the revolutionary film journal Cahiers du Cinéma, working alongside fellow cinephiles Jean-Luc Godard and Francois Truffaut. Together, the three men went on to jumpstart French national cinema, making stylistic techniques and narrative leaps in movies that were promptly coined a “new wave” in filmmaking.
While Godard and Truffaut made names for themselves with bold, often cheeky stylistic flourishes (jump cuts and freeze frames), Rohmer’s films were radical in a different way. He was committed to digging deep into the inner workings of his characters, letting them reveal themselves through lots of smart talk, and recording both their triumphs and foibles in observant, long takes.
This highly personal, gentle style is best displayed in Rohmer’s run of back-to-back art-house triumphs from the ’60s and early ’70s, a cycle of six films that charted the personal disappointments and fraught romantic relationships of the characters he so loved. Known as the “Six Moral Tales,” the films were smart, fun and most of all, sexy, and they’re worth rediscovering on DVD. Here are a few samples of the late master’s work to whet your appetite for all things Rohmer:
La Collectioneuse (1967)
My Night at Maud’s (1969)
I’m curious to hear from audience members on this one. Do you have a personal favourite among Eric Rohmer’s films? (Claire’s Knee gets my vote!)
-- Lee Ferguson
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