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Eric Rohmer


Fiona Handyside

Publication Year: 2012

The 1969 film Ma Nuit chez Maud catapulted its shy academic film director Eric Rohmer (1920-2010) into the limelight, selling over a million tickets in France and earning a nomination for an Academy Award. Ma Nuit chez Maud remains his most famous film, the highlight of an impressive range of films examining the sexual, romantic, and artistic mores of contemporary France, the temptations of desire, the small joys of everyday life, and sometimes, the vicissitudes of history and politics. Yet Rohmer was already forty years old when Maud was released and had already had a career as the editor of Cahiers du Cinéma, a position he lost in a political takeover in 1963. The interviews in this book offer a range of insights into the theoretical, critical, and practical circumstances of Rohmer's remarkably coherent body of films, but also allow Rohmer to act as his own critic, providing us with an array of readings concerning his interest in setting, season, color, and narrative.

Alongside the application of a theoretical rigor to his own films, Rohmer's interviews also discuss directors as varied as Godard, Carné, Renoir, and Hitchcock, and the relations of film to painting, architecture, and music. This book reproduces little-known interviews, such as a debate Rohmer undertakes with Women and Film concerning feminism, alongside detailed discussions from Cahiers and Positif, many produced in English here for the first time.

Published by: University Press of Mississippi


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pp. 1-5


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pp. v-7


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pp. vii-xiv


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pp. xv-xviii

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pp. xix-45

This filmography separates feature films and shorts (including an episode from a multi-director film). This has led for example to the splitting of the Moral Tales, of which the first two are shorts. Television programs Rohmer worked on are not included. The Green Ray is legally classified as a telefilm as it was released on a paying television channel three days before its cinematic release, but...

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Eric Rohmer: An Interview

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pp. 3-14

What I say most often—and I don’t want to stake my life that it’s true—is that I was born at Nancy on April 4, 1923. Sometimes I give other dates, but if you use that one you’ll be in agreement with other biographers. It was...

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Eric Rohmer: Choice and Chance

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pp. 15-27

Unlike my colleagues on Cahiers du Cinema, I came rather late to films. Until I was sixteen I hadn’t seen a thing. It was only after the war that I really became interested, when I started going to the Cinémathèque, which in those days was called “Le Cercle du Cinéma,” and then it was the silent films that attracted me most. Murnau was the great revelation. In those days he...

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Moral Tales: Eric Rohmer Reviewed and Interviewed

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pp. 28-40

When My Night at Maud’s hit the film scene four years ago, I breathed a sigh of relief that someone had, at last, created a character with whom I could readily identify. The fascinating Maud was perfect: she was educated and self-supporting (a doctor by profession). She enjoyed being a mother to her daughter but made no apologies for her divorcee status. Her beauty and sex appeal were...

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Rohmer’s Perceval

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pp. 41-49

Eric Rohmer has always cut a somewhat solitary figure. At a time when most of his New Wave contemporaries were freely subverting minor American thrillers, he was serenely plotting the course of his Comes Moraux, six cool, epigrammatic variations on a theme whose place in cinema might be compared to that, in literature, of eighteenth-century epistolary novels. At a time when...

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Comedies and Proverbs: An Interview with Eric Rohmer

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pp. 50-57

Eric Rohmer’s career has been an extremely varied one: teacher, critic, editor, producer, director. François Truffaut and Jacques Doniol-Valcroze called on him in the late fifties to take over the editorship of Cahiers du Cinéma which had just felt the blow of André Bazin’s death. Rohmer, who signed his first articles..

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Eric Rohmer on Film Scripts and Film Plans

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pp. 58-66

Let me give you a bit of information: now that I’ve written a cycle of films based on original scenarios—what they call in France “author films”—Moral Tales—and now that I’ve stopped for a few years to film The Marquise of O and Perceval, I’m going back to a new cycle, called Comedies and Proverbs. So you see, my...

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Interview: Pauline at the Beach

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pp. 67-71

Yes. I won’t have any debate on this point now. I’ve asked for professional actors. In the Moral Tale, with La Collectionneuse for example, there were people with whom I indulged in a cinema-verité kind of documentary style filmmaking. It’s really not the case here. The text was written in advance, and there was...

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Celluloid and Stone

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pp. 72-81

Eric Rohmer’s corpus has been frequently commented upon, mainly in terms of its elegant simplicity and the subtle psychology of his characters. We preferred to take a different path in our interview, concentrating on the spatio-temporal environment in which his films take place, and the urban perimeter that they..

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Interview with Eric Rohmer

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pp. 82-100

I did think of the title of Wilder’s film. I like Wilder, he has a corrosive edge, joined with a certain vulgarity which means I don’t always have a lot in common with him. In the comedy genre, I prefer Lubitsch. But I don’t name comic directors when I’m asked to name my favorites. Having said that, amongst...

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Interview with Eric Rohmer

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pp. 101-110

I’m going to start by saying it’s not necessarily finished. I might well have another idea for a film that seems “proverbial” to me, that I’ll decorate with a proverb and add to the series. It was more difficult with the Moral Tales because I announced six of them from the start, but with Comedies and Proverbs...

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Eric Rohmer: Coincidences

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pp. 111-123

Well, you know that some of my Comedies and Proverbs were in gestation when I was making the Moral Tales, even if I wasn’t really thinking about them: in the same way, certain Tales of the Four Seasons were conceived of when I was making the Comedies and Proverbs. I like to proceed, in a purely formal fashion...

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The Amateur: An Interview with Eric Rohmer

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pp. 124-139

Watching The Tree, the Mayor and the Mediatheque, one understands that Rohmer is continuing his journey towards simplicity. To get there, he needs a method, which is that of a filmmaker who has definitively broken away from the cult of professionalism. This interview is a defence and an illustration of a light economy, 16mm...

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Interview with Eric Rohmer

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pp. 140-145

While on holiday about ten years ago, I came across a digest of the memoirs of Grace Elliott in a history magazine. This English lady had been the mistress of the Duke of Orleans, King Louis XVI’s cousin, and had written an account of her life during the French Revolution. The article mentioned that her town house was still standing at such-and-such a number on Rue Miromesnil...

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Interview with Eric Rohmer: Does Cinematography Have an Artistic Function?

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pp. 146-164

In this interview, Eric Rohmer discusses his ideas concerning the collaboration between the director and his cinematographer. Considering the question of who authors the image and his long collaboration with Nestor Almendros, his work with Renato Berta and Diane Baratier, the filmmaker reveals some of the key principles of his aesthetic of light (how to render color, the relationship...

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Interview with Eric Rohmer: Video Is Becoming Increasingly Significant

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pp. 165-169

I haven’t really been to the cinema for a few years; I’ve gotten used to video cassettes and now to DVDs. . . . I don’t admit this very often, because I think it could shock people who love the cinema. . . . You couldn’t really say I’m reactionary about this, I’d say I was rather avantgarde! Video is now becoming increasingly significant. The video format is more faithful to my original...

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I’m a Filmmaker, Not a Historian

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pp. 170-181

In general, I find things by myself: I had the idea to film Perceval when I was teaching thirteen-year-old school children; I discovered La Marquise d’O when teaching Kleist’s novella, which wasn’t even translated into French. When I taught French in secondary schools, L’Astrée was two pages from a school text book written by Chevalier and Audiat (the precursor of Lagarde..

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Eric Rohmer: Father of the New Wave

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pp. 182-184

Eric Rohmer has always been the most discreet of film directors. While his contemporaries saunter from film festival to film festival and spend hours in interviews spouting their views on film and life, Rohmer has, by and large, chosen to stay at home. The first indication of his cloaked nature came in 1946 when he...

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Interview with Eric Rohmer: The Memory of the Figurative

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pp. 185-190

Well, really, it was the great art of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Because then, renewal was absolute, without comparison in any other artistic domain. Poetry became—not decadent, but a bit thin! It lost its sparkle at the start of the nineteenth century, it feels as if it’s searching for a sense of itself and turned on itself a bit. It increasingly lacks inspiration. It’s...

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Major Interviews Given

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pp. 191-196

Eric Rohmer was a prolific interviewer and upon the release of his films was often interviewed in major newspapers in France—included in this book is an interview with Libération upon the release of Pauline at the Beach. The list below is an account of his interviews in French with major journals devoted to cinema, and...


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pp. 197-200

E-ISBN-13: 9781621039211
E-ISBN-10: 1621039218
Print-ISBN-13: 9781617036880

Page Count: 224
Publication Year: 2012