The mystery at the heart of the idea of Eric Rohmer

Eric Rohmer was a misanthrope: his films by and large show people who are stupid, nasty, hypocritical, and self-deceived. The films show no violence and very little suspense, yet they are are "strong" -- psychologically exhausting -- stuff: I can never take more than one a month. (90 minutes' listening to these characters makes me feel sick to the heart).

The fact that the man lived his entire life in great privacy constitutes further evidence of his misanthropy.

I understand the man well: my view of the race isn't any better than his; and I suspect that I am even more secretive and further removed from society than he ever was.

It is this proximity to him which makes me aware of the great mystery at the heart of the idea of Eric Rohmer: why on earth did he continue to make all these films?

If people are nasty -- not worth knowing -- then, surely, there is no point making movies about them. After all, if reality sucks, then nothing much is gained by saying -- repeatedly -- how much it sucks. One should either try to change it; or create alternatives to it; or escape it; or forget it. Constant belaboring of an intractable problem is a recipe for nothing but frustration. Was Rohmer not frustrated by the very labor of making his films?

What's more: if people are nasty, then there is no point making movies for them to see. (Or writing novels for them, or cooking them dinners, or serving them breakfast in bed). And if they are self-deceived deceivers, then there is no point engaging them because -- well, because they don't really know what they are saying and what issues from their lips is not worth hearing.

(Everyday I walk past a pig-sty. I know the pigs are pigs, but there seems to be no point telling them so: they would not understand it).

My guess is that Rohmer knew all this but could not help himself. This strikes me as very sad for Rohmer (who could not have been happy making them) but lucky for us. His films are depressing stuff, not to be taken lightly, but they are still very good films. It does us well to take them -- in small doses, far apart.


A note concerning the title:
I am convinced that Eric Rohmer does not actually exist. He is an idea. A masonic cabal, like the Rosecrucian Society. (Lot's of people believed in its existence, too).


Post a Comment