Monday, January 11, 2010

Eric Rohmer (1920-2010)

As a repeatedly self-confessed french cinema enthusiast it embarrasses me to admit this but I'm relatively unfamiliar with Eric Rohmer's filmography. I wanted to note his passing here anyway because he's such an icon of the French New Wave. Rohmer was just a few months shy of his 90th birthday when he died earlier today in Paris.

Though I couldn't quite get in synch with Rohmer's recent work (The Lady and the Duke and his last feature Les Amours d'Astrée et de Céladon were the most recent I had seen and both escaped me ...though I adored the finale of the latter), I was quite fond of Pauline à la Plage (Pauline at the Beach) back in the day. It was one of the first handful of French films I sought on on VHS in the late 80s when I decided that French cinema was for me. Merci.

Rohmer's most famous movie is arguably Ma Nuit Chez Maud (My Night With Maud). It was nominated not just once for an Oscar, but twice consecutively: Best Foreign Language Film for 1969 (it lost to Algeria's "Z") and Best Original Screenplay for 1970 (Patton took the prize). [note: They've since changed the rules to insure that Best Foreign Film Nominees from one year are ineligible for Oscar consideration in any category the following year should they get theatrical distribution. The most recent famous example of this situation is the Chinese film Hero... which many felt would have received technical Oscar nominations had it not been a Foreign Film nominee the year before it was actually released Stateside.]

If you're more familiar with Rohmer's career than I, pay tribute. What's your favorite from his filmography? I'd also suggest reading The Auteur's Notebook for a lot more on Rohmer and his films.


David Coley said...

His "Six Moral Tales" are definitely worth a look, particularly "Claire's Knee."

gabrieloak said...

I've seen a lot of Rohmer films but I missed his most recent ones. I'm particularly fond of My Night at Maud's, Claire's Knee (these two were beautifully shot by Nestor Almendros), and Boyfriends and Girlfriends.

One of my favorite Rohmer films stars Bruno Ganz: The Marquise of O. It's impossible to see now. Maybe Criterion will put it out on a new DVD.

I have to admit that after seeing about a dozen of his films, I got tired of all the talking, talking, talking in his work. But I admired what he tried to do in his films and he certainly wrote a lot of good parts for women.

And considering all the garbage on screen these days, I'm sure even some of his lesser films would be refreshing to watch right now.


wasn't the Marquis of O a Cannes winner, too? It's so crazy how hard it is to find so many films even today with so many home viewing options.

Daryn said...

I love Ma nuit chez Maud, not just because of the quietly beautiful camerawork and performances (including a great lead performance by Jean-Louis Trintigant), but also because of the literary feel to the storytelling (in a good way). Eric Rohmer is probably the least ostentatiously virtuosic of the French New Wave filmmakers, but he doesn't have a "classical" style either. His films from the 60s (I'm not familiar with his more recent work) are just as intensely written as they are performed and shot. It's not true that cinema is an essentially visual medium--it's a delicate balance between the visual, the technical, the performative, and the written word (I think I'm paraphrasing Andre Bazin here). And it seems most directors with a great visual style--Scorsese, Lynch, Spielberg, Michael Mann--have been far less attentive than Rohmer to the quality of their scripts.

Stefano said...

I've seen almost every film by Eric Rohmer, and I really love his work. His masterpiece is probably "My Night at Maud's", the most beautiful of the six Moral Tales (but I also recommend "Claire's Knee" and "Love in the Afternoon"). "The Marquise Von O" is an excellent adaptation of Heinrich Von Kleist short novel.
I particurally love Rohmer's comedies from the 1980s: "Pauline at the Beach", the amazing "Full Moon in Paris" (his best title of the decade), "The Green Ray" and the little gem "L'Ami de Mon Ami" (I think the English title is "Boyfriends and Girlfriends" or something similar).
From the 1990s, my favorite Rohmer films are "A Summer's Tale" and "A Fall's Tale" (the first one especially, a melancholy romantic comedy). Surely, one of the greatest directors of all-time... he'll be greatly missed!

TALKING MOVIEzzz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.