R.I.P. Éric Rohmer

Posted by · 10:50 am · January 11th, 2010

Eric RohmerIt is with great sadness that I read of the passing of Éric Rohmer, a titan of French cinema who remained creatively active almost to the end of his 89-year life.

Boasting arguably the mellowest, most droll filmography of his New Wave brethren, the esteemed writer-director (and former editor of Cahiers du Cinéma) delighted in the literary and sociological possibilities of dialogue — he’s largely responsible for the “talky” tag that clings to French art film today, but that’s a virtue rather than a debit.

Few writers in film could define a character through the patterns and concerns of their speech as precisely as Rohmer, his sphere of influence extending from Woody Allen to any number of figures in current American indie cinema.

If you’re as keen on his work as I am, of course, you don’t need to be told this. If you haven’t yet made his acquaintance, begin with any of his Six Moral Tales (the most well-known of which, “My Night at Maud’s,” garnered him his lone Oscar nomination for writing), which mine rich humor and psychological insight from a series of anecdotal narratives.

More recently, his quartet Tales of the Four Seasons is a wry delight: “Autumn Tale,” a gentle meditation on wine and middle-aged romance that preceded “Sideways” by seven years, was particularly favored — an awarded — by U.S. critics.

From there, it’s an easier leap to the bolder formal strokes of “The Marquise of O,” “The Lady and the Duke” and his obliquely lovely 2007 farewell “The Romance of Astrea and Celadon.” For my part, I think I’ll be diving into the appropriately melancholy “The Green Ray” later in tribute. The movies, at least, aren’t going anywhere.




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5 responses so far

  • 1 1-11-2010 at 11:19 am

    Noah Forrest said...

    I’ll be watching La Collectiounneuse tonight in tribute. I can’t believe he’s gone. I was hoping he had another series of films on the way about young people in love. It’s amazing that even at his advanced age, he understood young people and their romantic problems better than most other young folks.

    For me, picking out a favorite of his films is difficult. They are all essentially about the same thing: who am I and who do I love and why do I love? His films might seem to be the least complicated of all the New Wavers, but the intricacies of his dialogue and the way in which each of his characters feels real and flawed is much more difficult than it seems. He’s one of cinema’s greatest humanists in that way.

    I don’t know, I’m really bummed out about this.

  • 2 1-11-2010 at 11:49 am

    david said...

    I’m sorry to hear of his passing, because I do respect him as a filmmaker, even though I never really personally connected with his work.

    The slow pace, and talky nature of his work, along with his extended use of long shots made it difficult for me to not doze off, without a good cup of high intensity coffee in hand.

    I just wish he had used his tremendous ability in a more engaging way. Still, he carved out his own little niche in the film world, and made films that you can tell really meant a great deal to him on a personal level.

  • 3 1-11-2010 at 12:07 pm

    Chad Hartigan said...

    Chloe in the Afternoon- A++++++++

  • 4 1-11-2010 at 12:14 pm

    aspect ratio said...

    I have to admit, I’ve never seen any of his films. I couldn’t even name one (or rather, had you asked me yesterday I couldn’t, now I’ve looked him up and noticed I’d seen none of his films).

    I’m no cineaste by any means, and I’ve never been a huge fan of the French New Wave either so it’s not really a “category” of films I’ve seen that much out of.. But at the same time, I know who he was, so I’m a bit surprised I’ve never actually gotten to see a film of his.. One reason could certainly be that these sort of films never were easily attainable.

    Anyway, R.I.P.

  • 5 1-11-2010 at 1:03 pm

    Patrick said...

    R.I.P.

    What WEIRD timing though, I only just posted a review for his film The Lady and The Duke:

    http://mrbettydraper.wordpress.com/2010/01/11/lady-and-duke/

    I posted that about 5 hours ago! Bizarre that this news should hit straight after. And don’t worry, I’ve been duly reprimanded for writing the words “some French auteur I’d never heard of called Eric Rohmer”. I really hadn’t heard of him before seeing the film, but I’m glad I’ve now made the discovery. Very eery timing though.