Rohmer at the Cinémathèque Française in 2004
|Born||Maurice Henri Joseph Schérer or Jean Marie Maurice Schérer
20 March 1920
Tulle, Corrèze, France
|Died||11 January 2010 (aged 89)
Éric Rohmer (20 March 1920 – 11 January 2010) was a French film director, film critic, journalist, novelist, screenwriter and teacher. A figure in the post-war New Wave cinema, he was a former editor of Cahiers du cinéma.
Rohmer was the last of the French New Wave directors to become established. He worked as the editor of the Cahiers du cinéma periodical from 1957 to 1963, while most of his Cahiers colleagues like Jean-Luc Godard and François Truffaut, were beginning their careers and gaining international attention. René Schérer a philosopher is his brother and René Monzat a journalist is his son.
Rohmer came to international attention around 1969 when one of his films was recognised at the Academy Awards. He won the San Sebastián International Film Festival with Claire's Knee in 1970. In 2001, Rohmer received the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival. His works were viewed by audiences around the world. He died of unspecified causes on 11 January 2010. In his obituary in The Daily Telegraph he was described as "the most durable film-maker of the French New Wave", outlasting his peers and "still making movies the public wanted to see" late in his career.
Rohmer was born Maurice Henri Joseph Schérer (or Jean-Marie Maurice Schérer) in Nancy, France, the son of Mathilde (née Bucher) and Lucien Scherer. Rohmer was a Roman Catholic. He 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.
Rohmer initially worked as a teacher. He also worked a newspaper journalist. Under the pseudonym Gilbert Cordier, Elisabeth a novel, was published in 1946. In 1950, he co-founded La Gazette du Cinéma with three French directors and was editor of Cahiers du Cinéma.
He co-wrote a study of Alfred Hitchcock with Claude Chabrol, focusing on Hitchcock's Catholic background and described as "one of the most influential film books since the Second World War, casting new light on a film-maker hitherto considered a mere entertainer". In 1957, Rohmer was married to Thérèse Barbet. The couple had two sons.
Claude Chabrol produced Rohmer's directorial debut, Le signe du lion in 1959 to little notice. In 1963 Barbet Schroeder founded the production company Les Films du Losange which produced all of Rohmer's work (except his last three features produced by La Compagnie Eric Rohmer). 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 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. It was the third in the series (the fourth to be shot), Ma nuit chez Maud (1969) that brought him international recognition. The following film, Le genou de Claire, secured it.
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), William 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 proverb. He followed these with a third series in the 1990s: Tales of the Four Seasons. Conte d’Automne or Autumn Tale was a critically acclaimed release in 1999 when Rohmer was 79.
Beginning in the 2000s, Rohmer, 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 monarchist propaganda. Its innovative cinematic style and strong acting performances led it to be well-received elsewhere.
The Grave of Eric Rohmer (Maurice Scherer) is located at the 13 district of Montparnasse Cemetery in Paris.
I’m gonna read a remarkable text written by Jacques Fieschi: "Writer, director; creator of “the cinematographe”, challenger of "Les cahiers du cinema", which recently published a special edition on Eric Rohmer. Truffaut once said he was one of the greatest directors of the 20th century, Godard was his broher, Chabrol admired him, Wenders couldn’t stop taking photos of him. Rohmer is a tremendous international star. The one and only French director who was in coherence with the money spent on his films and the money that his films made. I remember a phrase by Daniel Toscan Du Plantier the day “Les Visiteurs” opened, which eventually sold 15 million tickets: “Yes but there is this incredible film called "L'arbre, le maire et la médiathèque" that sold 100,000 tickets, which may sound ridiculous in comparison, but no, because but it was only playing in one theater for an entire year." A happy time for cinema when this kind of thing could happen. Rohmer." Here is a tribute from Jacques Fieschi: "We are all connected with the cinema, at least for a short time. The cinema has its economical laws, its artistic laws, a craft that once in a while rewards us or forgets us. Eric Rohmer seems to have escaped from this reality by inventing his own laws, his own rules of the game. One could say his own economy of the cinema that served his own purpose, which could skip the others, or to be more accurate that couldn’t skip the audience with its originality. He had a very unique point of view on the different levels of language and on desire that is at work in the heart of each and every human being, on youth, on seasons, on literature, of course, and one could say on history. Eric Rohmer, this sensual intellectual, with his silhouette of a teacher and a walker. As an outsider he made luminous and candid films in which he deliberately forgot his perfect knowledge of the cinema in a very direct link with the beauty of the world." The text was by Jacques Fieschi and it was a tribute to Eric Rohmer, Thank You.
Rohmer's films concentrate on intelligent, articulate protagonists who frequently fail to own up to their desires. The contrast between what they say and what they do fuels much of the drama in his films.
Rohmer saw the full-face closeup as a device which does not reflect how we see each other 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 departed from this rule, 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 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. There are also occasional digressions by the characters on literature and philosophy 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.
He described his work as follows:
|“||You can say that my work is closer to the novel - to a certain classic style of novel which the cinema is now taking over - than to other forms of entertainment, like the theatre.||”|
Rohmer said he wanted to look at "thoughts rather than actions", dealing "less with what people do than what is going on in their minds while they are doing it."
The Venice Film Festival awarded Éric Rohmer the Career Golden Lion in 2001.
Episodes for En profil dans le texte
Episodes for Cinéastes de notre temps
Episodes for Aller au cinéma
Ville nouvelle (1975, four-part miniseries)
Episode for Histoire de la vie privée