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Culture

Celebrated 'New Wave' film director Eric Rohmer dies

Video by Nicolas Rushworth

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-01-12

French film director Eric Rohmer has died at the age of 89 in Paris, according to his producer. Rohmer was a key figure in post-war "New Wave" cinema.

AFP - French film maker Eric Rohmer, director of numerous critically acclaimed films including "My Night at Maud's", died on Monday at the age of 89, his producer Margaret Menegoz told AFP.
   
Relatives said he had been hospitalised a week ago but did not give further details of his condition.
   
Rohmer's films, widely distributed abroad, explored relationships and love affairs with understated performances and delicate attention to visual detail.
   
He emerged in the 1960s as a key member of the French New Wave of realist film making, working with other masters of the genre such as Jean-Luc Godard and Francois Truffaut.
   
But Rohmer distinguished himself in his own work by a gentler style, with understated, articulate performances and soft colours.
   
One typical work from 1983, "Pauline at the Beach", told the story of a 15-year-old girl's summer by the seaside, reflecting his fondness for observing adult romances through the eyes of a young female protagonist.
   
Another series of films, "Six Moral Tales" in the 1960s and 1970s, were a modern retelling of 18th century fables.
   
They included "My Night at Maud's", a characteristically subtle tale about sex, romance and religion which won an Oscar nomination for best foreign film and brought Rohmer international fame.
   
Rohmer set up his own production company, Les Films du Losange, and made 24 feature films over a 50-year career.
   
He described his style of cinema as one of "thoughts rather than actions", dealing "less with what people do than what is going on in their minds while they are doing it."
   
President Nicolas Sarkozy, in a statement reacting to Rohmer's death, said the film maker was a "great master" of a "singular, unique" style that would survive him.
   
"He was behind the Cahiers du Cinema (magazine) and the adventure of the  'New Wave', but his films are still singular, unique. They were about literature, painting, theatre and music," Sarkozy said.
   
"Classical and romantic, well-behaved and iconoclastic, light and serious, sentimental and moralizing, he created a 'Rohmerian' style that will survive him," the statement added.
   
Culture Minister Frederic Mitterrand called Rohmer "one of France's greatest film makers" who "invented a cinematographic language that draws (its strength) from the subtleties of the French language".
   
Intrinsically French and full of bright, often improvised dialogue, Rohmer's films were frequently compared to the work of the 18th century dramatist Marivaux.
   
But he had his critics, their view encapsulated in a comment by a tough detective played by Gene Hackman in Arthur Penn's 1975 film "Night Moves", in which he complained that watching a Rohmer film was like watching paint dry.
   
Born Jean-Marie Maurice Scherer on April 4, 1920, in the eastern French city of Nancy, Rohmer worked early on as a journalist and then a teacher.
   
In 1946, he published the novel "Elisabeth" under the pseudonym Gilbert Cordier.
   

Date created : 2010-01-11

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