node / VANCOUVER - Eric Rohmer's six Moral Tales @ The Cinematheque

This presentation of Eric Rohmer's Six Moral Tales is the first program in an ongoing Eric Rohmer retrospective at The Cinematheque in 2017.

Rohmer's Six Moral Tales (Six contes moraux) is an extraordinary cycle of films made between 1962 and 1972, focusing on sexual temptation and the rationalization of desire. In each film of the series, typically, a man committed to one woman finds himself temporarily attracted to another, and so begins to questions his initial choice.

For more information and to buy your tickets, visit The Cinematheque.


The Bakery Girl of Monceau

 

This charming short was the first of Rohmer’s Moral Tales, and introduced the cycle's basic structure and themes. Future director Barbet Schroeder (who also produced all of the Moral Tales) is the narrator-hero, a young man who glimpses an alluring young woman on the street and instantly falls in love. Not knowing how to get in touch with the object of his desire, he searches the neighbourhood daily, and lets himself be tempted by sensuous Jacqueline, a shop assistant at the local bakery.

 

Suzanne's Career

The second of Rohmer's Moral Tales has Bertrand, a timid Parisian student, trapped in a difficult game of romantic cat-and-mouse. Unable to reveal his feelings for out-of-his-league Sophie, he finds himself fending off the affections of Suzanne, who’s recently been dumped by — and is actually still sweet on — Bertrand's philandering pal Guillaume. Like The Bakery Girl of Monceau, Suzanne’s Career is a low-budget, 16mm, black-and-white, shot-on-the-streets effort made at the height of the French New Wave. After the subsequent success of his more polished follow-ups, Rohmer resisted re-releasing the first two Tales, fearing they might seem “too amateurish". They are instead fascinating precursors of the four major films to come!

 

My Night at Maud’s

Officially the third of Rohmer's Moral Tales — but filmed and released fourth, after La Collectionneuse, due to the earlier unavailability of star Jean-Louis Trintignant — this surprise art-house hit established Rohmer's international reputation, and earned Oscar nominations for Best Foreign-Language Film and Original Screenplay (in separate years, oddly enough). Trintignant is Jean-Louis, a conservative engineer and strict Catholic convinced he’ll marry a woman he sees in Church, but forced by wintry circumstance to spend an erotically-charged night with free-thinking divorcée Maud (Françoise Fabian). While she attempts to seduce him with witty, intelligent conversation, he struggles to remain true to his moral code. This talky, tantalizing, immensely-satisfying film displays Rohmer’s talents at their finest. Photographed in exquisite black-and-white by Nestor Almendros, it was shot (and is set) in Clermont-Ferrand in December. Each Moral Tale was filmed at the exact time and place in which its story is set.

 

the collectionner

The fourth of Rohmer’s Moral Tales (although actually made and released third, before My Night at Maud's) is set in Saint-Tropez on the French Riviera. There, during a tranquil summer, antique dealer Adrien and painter friend Daniel ponder the enigma of Haydée, a young, bikini-clad woman they dub “la collectionneuse” (“the collector”) because of her succession of one-night conquests. Intellectual Adrien professes to be puzzled by Haydée’s appeal and disapproving of her libertine ways; soon enough, however, he finds himself struggling to resist her charms — and attempting to rationalize his jealousy of Daniel, who has already succumbed. Rohmer’s wry and witty film, his first in colour, won a Special Jury Prize at Berlin. “The perversity of human nature and the various subterfuges of desire — themes unifying all six tales — acquire greater complexity and malignancy in La Collectionneuse" (Molly Haskell).

 

Claire’s Knee

The famous fetishized body part of Rohmer’s celebrated film belongs to a sunny 17-year-old completely absorbed in her young boyfriend. Its obsessive admirer is Jérôme, a mature, mid-thirties, about-to-be-married diplomat embroiled in the characteristic Rohmerian conflict between head and heart, and embarking on a final fling or two during a summer in Annecy. Jérôme’s half-hearted pursuit of teenaged sisters Laura and Claire has narrowed and fixated into a strange “undefined desire” to caress Claire's knee. Observing the proceedings is enigmatic writer and old flame Aurora, who encourages Jérôme's philandering ways in order to use them as fodder for her latest novel. This gloriously intelligent work, one of the director’s supreme achievements, has a “carefully constructed ambiguity, so typical of great literature and life ... [and] a level of civilized dialogue and intellectual subtlety practically unknown in the cinema” (Amos Vogel, Film as a Subversive Art).

 

Love in the Afternoon

The sun-lit, seductive final chapter of Rohmer’s miraculous Moral Tales concerns Frédéric (Bernard Verley), a successful professional man who — unlike the male protagonists of the other Tales - is married, and happily. He’s also consumed by sexual fantasies about other women, but convinced this is healthy for his marriage and his emotional balance. Upsetting that balance is alluring Chloe (Zouzou), who offers Frédéric a terrifyingly real choice: actual extra-marital sex! Meanwhile, Frédéric's wife Hélène (Françoise Verley) contemplates an affair of her own. In a charming touch, the film features cameos from the female leads of the previous Moral Tales; they appear as the women Frédéric fantasizes about. Frédéric and Hélène are played by an actual married couple (a typical example of Rohmer's scrupulous attention to detail), while Paris is lovingly captured in the luminous cinematography of Rohmer and Truffaut regular Nestor Almendros.


For more information and to buy your tickets, visit The Cinematheque.

The Cinematheque 1131 Howe St #200, Vancouver, BC V6Z 2L7, Canada

VANCOUVER - Eric Rohmer's six Moral Tales @ The Cinematheque

When
From March 31 to April 6, 2017
Where
The Cinematheque
1131 Howe St #200, Vancouver, BC V6Z 2L7, Canada
Six Moral Tales

This presentation of Eric Rohmer's Six Moral Tales is the first program in an ongoing Eric Rohmer retrospective at The Cinematheque in 2017.

Rohmer's Six Moral Tales (Six contes moraux) is an extraordinary cycle of films made between 1962 and 1972, focusing on sexual temptation and the rationalization of desire. In each film of the series, typically, a man committed to one woman finds himself temporarily attracted to another, and so begins to questions his initial choice.

For more information and to buy your tickets, visit The Cinematheque.


The Bakery Girl of Monceau

 

This charming short was the first of Rohmer’s Moral Tales, and introduced the cycle's basic structure and themes. Future director Barbet Schroeder (who also produced all of the Moral Tales) is the narrator-hero, a young man who glimpses an alluring young woman on the street and instantly falls in love. Not knowing how to get in touch with the object of his desire, he searches the neighbourhood daily, and lets himself be tempted by sensuous Jacqueline, a shop assistant at the local bakery.

 

Suzanne's Career

The second of Rohmer's Moral Tales has Bertrand, a timid Parisian student, trapped in a difficult game of romantic cat-and-mouse. Unable to reveal his feelings for out-of-his-league Sophie, he finds himself fending off the affections of Suzanne, who’s recently been dumped by — and is actually still sweet on — Bertrand's philandering pal Guillaume. Like The Bakery Girl of Monceau, Suzanne’s Career is a low-budget, 16mm, black-and-white, shot-on-the-streets effort made at the height of the French New Wave. After the subsequent success of his more polished follow-ups, Rohmer resisted re-releasing the first two Tales, fearing they might seem “too amateurish". They are instead fascinating precursors of the four major films to come!

 

My Night at Maud’s

Officially the third of Rohmer's Moral Tales — but filmed and released fourth, after La Collectionneuse, due to the earlier unavailability of star Jean-Louis Trintignant — this surprise art-house hit established Rohmer's international reputation, and earned Oscar nominations for Best Foreign-Language Film and Original Screenplay (in separate years, oddly enough). Trintignant is Jean-Louis, a conservative engineer and strict Catholic convinced he’ll marry a woman he sees in Church, but forced by wintry circumstance to spend an erotically-charged night with free-thinking divorcée Maud (Françoise Fabian). While she attempts to seduce him with witty, intelligent conversation, he struggles to remain true to his moral code. This talky, tantalizing, immensely-satisfying film displays Rohmer’s talents at their finest. Photographed in exquisite black-and-white by Nestor Almendros, it was shot (and is set) in Clermont-Ferrand in December. Each Moral Tale was filmed at the exact time and place in which its story is set.

 

the collectionner

The fourth of Rohmer’s Moral Tales (although actually made and released third, before My Night at Maud's) is set in Saint-Tropez on the French Riviera. There, during a tranquil summer, antique dealer Adrien and painter friend Daniel ponder the enigma of Haydée, a young, bikini-clad woman they dub “la collectionneuse” (“the collector”) because of her succession of one-night conquests. Intellectual Adrien professes to be puzzled by Haydée’s appeal and disapproving of her libertine ways; soon enough, however, he finds himself struggling to resist her charms — and attempting to rationalize his jealousy of Daniel, who has already succumbed. Rohmer’s wry and witty film, his first in colour, won a Special Jury Prize at Berlin. “The perversity of human nature and the various subterfuges of desire — themes unifying all six tales — acquire greater complexity and malignancy in La Collectionneuse" (Molly Haskell).

 

Claire’s Knee

The famous fetishized body part of Rohmer’s celebrated film belongs to a sunny 17-year-old completely absorbed in her young boyfriend. Its obsessive admirer is Jérôme, a mature, mid-thirties, about-to-be-married diplomat embroiled in the characteristic Rohmerian conflict between head and heart, and embarking on a final fling or two during a summer in Annecy. Jérôme’s half-hearted pursuit of teenaged sisters Laura and Claire has narrowed and fixated into a strange “undefined desire” to caress Claire's knee. Observing the proceedings is enigmatic writer and old flame Aurora, who encourages Jérôme's philandering ways in order to use them as fodder for her latest novel. This gloriously intelligent work, one of the director’s supreme achievements, has a “carefully constructed ambiguity, so typical of great literature and life ... [and] a level of civilized dialogue and intellectual subtlety practically unknown in the cinema” (Amos Vogel, Film as a Subversive Art).

 

Love in the Afternoon

The sun-lit, seductive final chapter of Rohmer’s miraculous Moral Tales concerns Frédéric (Bernard Verley), a successful professional man who — unlike the male protagonists of the other Tales - is married, and happily. He’s also consumed by sexual fantasies about other women, but convinced this is healthy for his marriage and his emotional balance. Upsetting that balance is alluring Chloe (Zouzou), who offers Frédéric a terrifyingly real choice: actual extra-marital sex! Meanwhile, Frédéric's wife Hélène (Françoise Verley) contemplates an affair of her own. In a charming touch, the film features cameos from the female leads of the previous Moral Tales; they appear as the women Frédéric fantasizes about. Frédéric and Hélène are played by an actual married couple (a typical example of Rohmer's scrupulous attention to detail), while Paris is lovingly captured in the luminous cinematography of Rohmer and Truffaut regular Nestor Almendros.


For more information and to buy your tickets, visit The Cinematheque.