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Closing Credits: Eric Rohmer

EricRohmer.jpgEric Rohmer, a former film critic who became one of France's most respected film-makers died on the 11th of January in Paris. Rohmer was internationally known for movies such as Ma Nuit Chez Maud (1969), and Le Genou de Claire (1970), he was eighty-nine when he died.

I'm handing this Closing Credits piece over to a friend who has been joining the Filmstalker Film Club. He's a huge fan of Eric Rohmer and knows quite a bit about his work, and so he can do the man much more justice than I could. Steven Orrell gives us Eric Rohmer's closing credits.

Speaking about Eric Rohmer, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said in a statement:

"Classic and romantic, wise and iconoclast, light and serious, sentimental and moralist, he created the 'Rohmer' style, which will outlive him."

A former editor of the French film journal Cahiers du Cinema, Rohmer was a member of the French New Wave of film-makers who began emerging in the late 1950's and included Jean-Luc Godard, Francois Truffaut, Jacques Rivette and Claude Chabrol.

Rohmer was still editor of Cahiers du Cinema when his first feature film, Le Signe du lion was released in 1959 to little notice.

It was not until Ma Nuit Chez Maud was released that Rohmer was established as a major force in cinema. The film earned Academy Award nominations for best foreign language film and for Rohmer's screenplay.

Ma Nuit Chez Maud was the third instalment in Rohmer's Six Moral Tales; a series of two shorts and four features that included Le Genou de Claire and L'Amour l'après-midi (Chris Rock remade the film in 2007 as I Think I Love My Wife)

Rohmer released two other series during his career. Comedies and Proverbs; six films released between 1981 and 1987 and Tales of the Four Seasons; a quartet of romantic comedies released between 1992 and 1998

Between his series work, Rohmer made two historical dramas, Die Marquise von O... (1976) and Perceval le Gallois (1978)

Rohmer's final three films showed a surprising diversity in technique, although each is fundamentally concerned with the recurring Rohmer-esque themes of love and fidelity. L'Anglaise et le duc (2001) a moving historical drama, set at the time of the French revolution, which used the latest digital technology, with actors embedded into painted backdrops. Triple Agent (2004) provides a poignant account of how external events can erode the trust between a husband and wife. Les Amours d'Astrée et de Céladon (2007), Rohmer's last film, is a lyrical, highly stylised work set in 5th Century Gaul.

His films were known for their long conversations between characters, although Rohmer often said that many of his films consisted of a "story that deals less with what people do than with what is going on in their heads while they are doing it."

Not everyone was a Rohmer fan. In Night Moves, Gene Hackman's private detective character says: "I saw a Rohmer film once. It was kind of like watching paint dry."

Despite the focus on talking in his films, Rohmer told The Times in 1999 that words aren't everything in his work.

"I've often said that I became a director because of watching silent films," he said. "They talked a lot in silent films, even if we didn't hear it. But it's not only the words. I think that my characters must have a grand presence, a physical presence."

As a film-maker known for using a tiny crew and minimal lighting, Rohmer has been described as being "fast and cheap."

The Guardian in 1996 said of Rohmer:

"It's not a question of money...It's also because my films are better that way. I can get closer to real life if they have a lightness of touch. I must admit that the fact that my films are cheap means I don't have to rely too much on box-office success, but it also allows me to film in places where you just couldn't take a huge film crew."

In 2001, Rohmer received a Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival for his body of work.

Writer, Director
Eric Rohmer



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