Monday, January 11, 2010

Eric Rohmer

Eric Rohmer passed away today, and I miss him already.  I started making movies because of the French New Wave.  And I continue, to this day, to derive inspiration from the passion and intelligence of this group of filmmakers.

Each filmmaker had their own particular style.  Rohmer was the oldest and acted as the most responsible of all.  He had a very controlled system of working.  He kept his budgets in line with the size of his audiences.  And, as a result, he was able to make movies, so it seemed, whenever he wanted.

Never seen one of his films?  I'd probably start you with Summer (1986) or My Night at Maud's (1969).  Rohmer's films are dialogue-heavy, sophisticated, sensual (in a restrained kinda way), and powerfully observant about the way we act and the way we are.

The history of cinema has lost one of its truly great practitioners today. But he also lived until he was 89 and made films until he was 87. Monsieur Rohmer, really, we should celebrate.   The cinema has been lucky to have you.


  1. My personal favorite of his is CLAIRE'S KNEE, but I am pretty much a huge fan of his entire canon. He did have a long run, but his nonetheless lamentable passing leaves us with only Godard, Rivette and Chabrol from the French New Wave movement.


  2. Hey, Sam! I love CLAIRE'S KNEE, too, and am also a huge fan of almost all Rohmer's work. I would say my three favorites are MY NIGHT AT MAUD'S, FULL MOON IN PARIS, and SUMMER.

    Really sad that Truffaut and now Rohmer are gone. Hopefully, we'll continue to get some great work from the others. The only guy I'd add to the list is Alain Resnais.

  3. I'm glad you specified "sensual" — that too often gets overlooked in the emphasis on Rohmer as a master of dialogue. But his films are very attuned to visual and sensual pleasures, one of the things that makes them so much more than the talkfests they're often described as. I don't think I've ever seen a bad film from Rohmer; some are better than others, sure, but all of them are smart, sensitive and above all sublimely humanist. He was one of the greats.

  4. Ed, so great to have you on here! Just before you sent your comments, I had just gotten through reading your fantastic piece on The Lady and the Duke ( I particularly loved this sentence, "The interesting thing about Rohmer's period films — like the theatrical, literary Perceval le Gallois or The Marquise of O... — is that they are generally far more overtly stylized and deconstructive than the modern romantic comedies for which he is known." This sentence perfectly positions these films, I think, in a way that I've never seen articulated.

    I completely agree with you on Rohmer's humanity. I also marvel at how in his seventies and eighties he could capture youth as well as anyone.

    Thanks so much for commenting here!

  5. Thanks, Jeffrey. Definitely agreed about Rohmer's ability to depict youth, even well into his old age. His "Four Seasons" saga is concerned almost exclusively with the loves and follies of the young, though with the final film in the cycle he does belatedly address the romances and dreams of slightly older characters, appropriately enough using a few actresses who have aged on camera in his films over the years.

  6. Ed, I couldn't agree more! That's exactly the series of films I had in mind when I made that comment. I remember particularly feeling impressed by Rohmer's handling of youth after first seeing A Summer's Tale.