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French New Wave Director Eric Rohmer Dies

French New Wave Director Eric Rohmer Dies

French New Wave auteur Eric Rohmer is one of my favorite directors of all time. He has died, at age 89.

Some have called Woody Allen the American Rohmer. That’s because both directors specialized in small-scale, short, talky movies, and churned out one a year on a regular basis. They kept on working.

Rohmer consistently over four decades brought a fine, delicate, intimate, observant humanism to his stories. They were often about young people in love, trying to navigate the shoals of working, loving, and doing the right thing. Shot on 16 mm with tiny crews with natural light (often by the incomparable Nestor Almendros), they weren’t explosive, bombastic or fraught with drama. But they were never dull, either; they were always compelling. Le Rayon Vert is my favorite, along with the classics Claire’s Knee and My Night at Maud’s.

Sony Pictures Classics released six or seven of his films. “He was a rarity,” says SPC co-president Michael Barker. “There is no filmmaker like him in film history. He was a pure auteur. Some of his films are the most pleasurable you can see, like drinking a fine wine. As we get older and watch his films again, Chloe in the Afternoon, The Aviator’s Wife and Claire’s Knee are as rich and delightful now as when they came out. He’s one director who is truly timeless. He was the most modern of filmmakers. The last film of his we released, The Lady and the Duke, was shot with digital camerawork by a man in his 80s about the 18th century. He was always trying something new.”

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