From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Éric Rohmer (4 April 1920 – 11 January 2010) was a French film director and screenwriter. He is regarded as a key figure in the post-war New Wave cinema and is a former editor of influential French film journal Cahiers du cinéma.
Early life and career
Rohmer was born Maurice Henri Joseph Schérer (or Jean-Marie Maurice Schérer) in Tulle, France, the son of Mathilde (née Bucher) and Lucien Scherer. Rohmer fashioned his pseudonym from the names of two famous artists: actor and director Erich von Stroheim and writer Sax Rohmer, author of the Fu Manchu series. He completed his first feature, Le signe du lion in 1959 to little notice. Rohmer's career began to gain momentum with his cycle of films Six Moral Tales. The first, La boulangère de Monceau lasts 23 minutes, the second, La Carrière de Suzanne 55 minutes; the remainder are feature-length. Each tale follows the same basic story, inspired by F. W. Murnau's Sunrise (1927) — a man, married or otherwise committed to a woman, is tempted by a second woman, but resists the temptation. It was the third in the series (but the fourth to be shot), Ma nuit chez Maud (1969) that brought him international recognition. The following film, Le genou de Claire, secured that recognition.
Later professional life
Rohmer's films invariably concentrate on intelligent, articulate protagonists, who nevertheless frequently fail to own up to their real desires. The contrast between what they say and what they do fuels much of the drama in his films.
Following the Moral Tales, Rohmer made two period films — La Marquise d'O... (1976), from a novella by Heinrich von Kleist, and Perceval le Gallois (1978), based on a 12th century manuscript by Chrétien de Troyes. Rohmer was a highly literary man. His films frequently refer to ideas and themes in plays and novels, such as references to Jules Verne (in The Green Ray), Shakespeare (in A Winter's Tale) and Pascal's Wager (in Ma nuit chez Maud).
Rohmer embarked on a second series, the Comedies and Proverbs, each based on a different proverb. He followed these with a third series in the 1990s: Tales of the Four Seasons. Beginning in the 2000s, Rohmer, now in his eighties, returned to period drama with The Lady and the Duke and Triple Agent. The Lady and the Duke caused considerable controversy in France, where its negative portrayal of the French Revolution led some critics to label it pro-monarchist propaganda. Its innovative cinematic style and strong acting performances led it to be well-received elsewhere.
Rohmer saw the full-face closeup as an artificial cinematic device which does not reflect how we see each other in reality, and avoided its use. He avoids extradiegetic music (not coming from onscreen sound sources), seeing it as a violation of the fourth wall. He has on occasion, however, departed from this rule; for example, inserting soundtrack music in places in The Green Ray (1986) (released as Summer in the United States). Rohmer also tends to spend considerable time in his films showing his characters going from place to place, walking, driving, bicycling, or commuting on a train, engaging the viewer in the idea that part of the day of each individual involves quotidian travel. This was most evident in Le Beau mariage (1982), which had the female protagonist constantly traveling, particularly between Paris and Le Mans.
Rohmer typically populates his movies with people in their twenties, and the settings are often on beautiful seacoast beaches and resorts, notably in La Collectionneuse (1967), Pauline at the Beach (1983), The Green Ray (1986), and A Summer's Tale (1996). These films are immersed in an environment of bright sunlight, blue skies, green grass, sandy beaches, and clear waters.
The director's characters engage in long conversations—mostly talking about man-woman relationships, but also on mundane issues like trying to find a vacation spot. And there are also occasional digressions by the characters on literary and philosophical issues, as most of Rohmer's characters are middle class and university educated.
A Summer's Tale (1996) has most of the elements of a typical Rohmer film: no soundtrack music, no closeups, a seaside resort, long conversations between beautiful young people (who are middle class and educated) and discussions involving the characters' interests from songwriting to ethnology.
Contes moraux (Six Moral Tales):
- 1963 #1 La Boulangère de Monceau (The Bakery Girl of Monceau) — short, not released theatrically
- 1963 #2 La Carrière de Suzanne (Suzanne's Career) — short, not released theatrically
- 1967 #4 La Collectionneuse (The Collector)
- 1969 #3 Ma nuit chez Maud (My Night at Maud's) — although planned as the third moral tale, its production was delayed due to the unavailability of actor Jean-Louis Trintignant. It was released after the fourth tale.
- 1970 #5 Le Genou de Claire (Claire's Knee)
- 1972 #6 L'Amour l'après-midi (Love in the Afternoon/Chloe in the Afternoon)
Comédies et Proverbes (Comedies and Proverbs):
- 1980 La Femme de l'aviateur (The Aviator's Wife) — "It is impossible to think about nothing."
- 1982 Le Beau mariage (A Good Marriage) — "Can anyone refrain from building castles in Spain?"
- 1983 Pauline à la plage (Pauline At The Beach) — "He who talks too much will hurt himself."
- 1984 Les Nuits de la pleine lune (Full Moon In Paris) — "He who has two women loses his soul, he who has two houses loses his mind."
- 1986 Le Rayon vert (The Green Ray/Summer) — "Ah, for the days/that set our hearts ablaze,"
- 1987 L'Ami de mon amie (My Girlfriend's Boyfriend/Boyfriends And Girlfriends) — "My friends' friends are my friends."
Contes des quatre saisons (Tales of the Four Seasons):
- 1990 Conte de printemps (A Tale Of Springtime)
- 1992 Conte d'hiver (A Winter's Tale/A Tale of Winter)
- 1996 Conte d'été (A Summer's Tale)
- 1998 Conte d'automne (Autumn Tale)
- 1959 Le Signe du lion
- 1976 La Marquise d'O... (The Marquise of O...)
- 1978 Perceval le Gallois
- 1987 Quatre Aventures de Reinette et Mirabelle (Four Adventures of Reinette and Mirabelle)
- 1993 L'Arbre, le maire et la médiathèque (The Tree, The Mayor, and the Mediatheque)
- 1995 Les Rendez-vous de Paris (Rendezvous in Paris)
- 2000 L'Anglaise et le duc (The Lady And The Duke)
- 2004 Triple Agent
- 2007 Les Amours d'Astrée et de Céladon
- 1950 Journal d'un scélérat
- 1951 Présentation ou Charlotte et son steak
- 1952 Les Petites filles modèles (unfinished)
- 1954 Bérénice
- 1956 La Sonate à Kreutzer
- 1958 Véronique et son cancre
- 1964 Nadja à Paris
- 1965 "Place de l'étoile" from Paris vu Par... (Six in Paris)
- 1966 Une Étudiante d'aujourd'hui
- 1983 Loup y es-tu? (Wolf, Are You There?)
- 1986 Bois ton café (Drink your coffee it's getting cold!) (music video])
- 1997 Fermière à Montfaucon
- 1997 Un dentiste exemplaire
- 1999 Une histoire qui se dessine
- 2004 Le canapé rouge
Works for theatre
Works for television
Episodes for En profil dans le texte
- 1963 Paysages urbains
- 1964 Les cabinets de physique, la vie de société au XVIIIe siècle
- 1964 Les métamorphoses du paysage, l'ère industrielle
- 1964 Les salons de Diderot
- 1964 Perceval ou le conte du Graal
- 1965 Don Quichotte de Cervantes
- 1965 Les histoires extraordinaires d'Edgar Poe
- 1965 Les caractères de La Bruyère
- 1965 Entretien sur Pascal
- 1966 Victor Hugo, les contemplations
- 1968 Entretien avec Mallarmé
- 1968 Nancy au XVIIIe siècle
- 1969 Victor Hugo architecte
- 1969 La sorcière de Michelet
- 1969 Le béton dans la ville
- 1970 Le français langue vivante?
Episodes for Cinéastes de notre temps
Episodes for Aller au cinéma
Ville nouvelle (1975, four-part miniseries)
- Épisode 1: L'enfance d'une ville
- Épisode 2: La diversité du paysage urbain
- Épisode 3: La forme de la ville
- Épisode 4: Le logement à la demande
Episode for Histoire de la vie privée
- 1989 Les Jeux de société
- 1967 L'homme et la machine
- 1967 L'homme et les images
- 1968 L'homme et les frontières
- 1968 L'homme et les gouvernements