4 items from 2010
If you read the newspaper articles that appeared following the death of Eric Rohmer early this year, you will have come across the cliché that his work is ‘talky’: the implicit criticism is that Rohmer’s films feature too much dialogue and not enough action. Personally, I see nothing wrong with characters engaging in thought-provoking debate. Dialogue can do a lot to advance the film’s narrative, so a film with a lot of talking is not necessarily a film in which nothing happens. It seems to me that those who criticize a film for being ‘talky’ believe that cinema’s natural vocation is to convey movement per se, and this seems an awfully restrictive vision of the medium.
I recently watched one of Rohmer’s earliest films, Le Signe du lion (The Sign of Leo, 1959). This film is certainly not considered one of his best, but it’s »
- Alison Frank
The two disc set from Artificial Eye called "The Early Works of Eric Rohmer" features two of his Six Moral Tales, the shorts La boulangère de Monceau and La carriere de Suzanne. (In addition it contains Rohmer’s shorts Nadia á Paris and Charlotte et son steak, and his documentary on the Lumière brothers.) The Moral Tales, and much of the other miscellany, are handled quite well in the renowned domestic Criterion box set, so the picture I’d like to concentrate on from this set is Rohmer’s first feature (and his last for almost a decade) Le signe du lion, or The Sign of Leo. Rohmer’s known for his Four Seasons, his Comedies and Proverbs, and of course his Moral Tales. Le signe du lion, its title notwithstanding, would appear to be Rohmer’s sole Shaggy Dog Tale. »
Idiosyncratic French film-maker who was a leading figure in the cinema of the postwar new wave
In Arthur Penn's intelligently unconventional private eye thriller Night Moves (1975), Gene Hackman's hero – who finds the mystery he faces as unfathomable as his personal relationships – is asked by his wife whether he wants to go to an Eric Rohmer movie. "I don't think so," he says. "I saw a Rohmer film once. It was kind of like watching paint dry."
Behind that exchange lies a jab at Hollywood's mistrust of any film-maker, especially a French one, who neglects plot and action in favour of cerebral exploration, metaphysical conceit and moral nuance. The Dream Factory, after all, had proved through trial and error that cinema is cinema, literature is literature, and the twain shall meet only provided the images rule, not the words.
Of the major American film-makers, perhaps only Joseph Mankiewicz allowed his scripts, »
- Ronald Bergan
The French New Wave director Eric Rohmer has died aged 89. We look back over his film career in clips
Le Signe du Lion (1959)
Rohmer's first feature was a pure-blood product of the burgeoning French New Wave; a loose-limbed, low-budget tale of poverty-row Paris, evocatively played out in the Latin Quarter as its hero rattles between the houses in search of loot. The film was destined to be eclipsed by the likes of Breathless and The 400 Blows – but Rohmer had yet to find his perfect rhythm.
La Collectionneuse (1968)
The fourth of Rohmer's six "moral tales" offers a wry and playful battle of the sexes, as the nymphet of the title makes a point of bedding a different man each night – and dances constantly away from the two male friends who try to tame her. Its St Tropez setting showed how Rohmer was as comfortable in France's wide open spaces as in the bustling metropolis. »
- Xan Brooks
4 items from 2010
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