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cinema and Eric Rohmer and the meaning of life

I had been floundering... needing very much to a find a voice that at least went or goes some way to reflecting my own personal concerns and feelings- about myself and about the world.......

Eric Rohmer is the saviour- at least partly- and he is showing me the way and has unblocked my block- thank you Eric Rohmer....

In his films his characters talk intelligently to each other about matters which concern them- love, work, loneliness, death- things we all think about a lot. But Rohmer manages to make not what you may think a boring essay on these subjects but pulsating, plot driven narratives full of that essential ingredient called character... real character.. and comedy (Pauline on the Beach for example)

I had once thought Bergman my master for a lesson in how to merge character and plot in film- he is replaced- perhaps temporarily - with Rohmer- Bergman always a little too staged for my taste (though his sense of timing, like a Benedict Andrews production; is impeccable and glorious- everything on the right note, the right beat..)

What is it about him that is so simple? He is not concerned with class (like Renoir and Truffaut although I love these guys.. Lang and Renoir head to head? Renoir every time for me) -he knows he only wants to talk about those vaguest of defined people, the middle classes. And this frees him up to talk about the big issues which translate and stand the test of time .. like Bergman he can be classed the Chekhov of cinema... although the Shakespeare has yet to be found...

How is it that his films are so brilliant, so concentrated - so simple?

For one, it is the basic nature of his camera set ups and his mis en scene.

The camera is planned more around the actors rather than the other way round...not concerned with style and look first he allows the look and style to come out of the film. As George Eliot always said, form comes from the content, like a river moulding its course to the sea...(I think she said this). Refreshing considering today's British efforts which either strive for no form whatsoever or allow the form to become more important than the content because they don't trust the content... and so the culture of art films is born.

And unless you are Stan Brakhage there is no such thing as pure cinema by the way.. can't be.. it is the bastard of all other art forms...it's a thief and a murderer as well as a liar...

Second he allows for no indulgent,

In The Green Ray for example, we see moments of a lonely young woman sitting in a tram car, or wandering empty lanes... in today's culture where film makers think the only way to show someone's loneliness is to have them staring out of windows (think of Shame here, the worst possible offender- although I offend this too) these moments would be allowed to take up minutes of screen time... not so with Rohmer.. Literally seconds, just to give the audience the idea and thirst for more... today directors and DOPs usually abuse these moments to show off their cinematic skills- as if the look and light of the picture are the only elements making up cinema... again Shame being the worst most recent offender I can think of (a film that really could be downsized to about 5 mins, Casper David Friedrich or no)

And then he allows his characters just to sit there and talk about their problems-discuss what's eating them up and argue- philosophise I suppose. You won't catch a UK film doing that, although Joanna Hogg comes close and now after seeing Rohmer's films, I understand her even more... but with no detriment to the narrative.  That's skill, real skill. Not just to tell the story but to give you fully rounded characters as well.

So I have to say I am relieved I have found someone and someone who can help show me the way. I have a dearth of modern film makers I admire at the moment- the only living ones are probably Mike Leigh and Joanna Hogg ( I hear so many groans but it is true, Leigh is another Chekhov)- simply because they don't have a drum to beat- except those of their own characters...

So happy me as I will be indulging myself watching as many Rohmer films as I can. I wish I could have liked them at 17, but I was too young...

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