Eric Rohmer: Film as Theology
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Since the 1950s Eric Rohmer has been one of the major presences in French cinema as critic and director. This book is a sophisticated engagement with his work in which Keith Tester argues that Rohmer is not the naïve realist he is often claimed to be. Instead, his films are revealed as a sustained exercise in Catholic theology.
wife Arsinoe is an artist who paints flat and vaguely sentimental empirical street scenes. She looks but is quite unable to see because she is too distracted by surfaces. Her art never glimpses the real or the ultimate. In the final instance, perhaps this is the decisive political meaning of Rohmer’s films. They are neither for nor against the detail of an event like the French Revolution, and neither are they for or against specific political strategies. They are neither for nor against because,
Galatea and crushed to death with a rock by his rival Cyclops. The mythological story told by a fountain that is probably scarcely noticed – and certainly not understood – by most visitors to the Luxembourg gardens thus becomes a metaphor for the story in the film and a provocation to the characters in it. The man becomes Acis, the woman Galatea, and Cyclops the boyfriend who only appears at the end of the story, taking a lover to a hotel (which, in Rohmer’s spirit of careful location, can be
Mirabelle are just as indifferent as those in The Green Ray and My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend, but the trouble that they cause is rather different. The wind does not boom through them, so much as the breeze rustles the leaves and thereby instead of uncertainty they might be interpreted as pointing to a certainty, so long as attention is paid to them. By this argument, there might well be something to be heard and apprehended in the rustling of the leaves. The Old Testament Book of Kings contains the
for the predictabilities of empirical life, and to shift their dreams and desires towards ‘eternally unreachable Gardens of Eden’ (Lukács 1974: 153). These ‘Gardens of Eden’ are at once the dream of a real life that is desired by men and women who are almost certainly too scared of what lies beyond empirical life to actually try to get it, and they are the ideals that make the empirical seem to be so much less than perfect. Each proverb at the beginning of each film in the series can be read
48: 132–42. Sullivan, Victoria (1977) ‘The Marquise of O: Rohmer Changes His Erotic Formula’, Wide Angle, vol. 1: 61–3. Theophrastus (1929) The Characters of Theophratus, trans. J.M. Edmonds, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Thomas, Kevin (1968) ‘“Six in Paris” on Los Feliz Screen’, Los Angeles Times, 9 October. 168 References Thomson, David (2002) The New Biographical Dictionary of Film, fourth edition, London: Little, Brown. Tortajada, Maria (2004a) ‘Eric Rohmer and the Mechanics of