Eric Rohmer’s Six Moral Tales Is the Pick of the Week

The late, great Eric Rohmer (1920-2010) was a film critic, journalist, novelist, screenwriter, and teacher. However, he was best known for his gifts as a legendary director, especially of his portraits of the complexities of love and relationships between fragile, albeit clueless men, and the strong, somewhat elusive women who tempt or seduce them (or in certain cases, try to).

The six films in the box set, which is going to be released on Blu-ray for the first time, don’t exactly have compelling, and complicated plots, they are all a series of boy meets girl, boy flirts or falls for girl, boy leaves girl and falls for another girl scenarios, which leads to unexpected results for everyone involved.

The six films included:

The Bakery Girl of Monceau (1963): Barbet Schroeder is a law student with a roving eye and a rather gigantic appetite for sugary pastries. He spends his time trying to woo the pretty brunette (Michele Girardon) who works in a nearby bakery in Paris. Is he really interested in her, or is she just a distraction from his true passions?

Suzanne’s Career (1963): Bertrand bides his time in casually savage and spiteful friendship with Guillaume. But when Guillaume sets his sights on a free-spirited young woman named Suzanne, Bertrand suddenly finds himself on the jealous end of the rope.

My Night at Maud’s (1969): The third and most celebrated of the set (but the fourth film released theatrically), starring the great Jean-Louis Trintignant as Jean-Louis, a 30-plus-year-old Catholic engineer, who lives by a very strict moral code. He falls in love with the innocent Francoise at Mass one day and wants to marry her. His standards are jeopardized as he finds himself spending an unplanned night in the apartment of the beautiful and bold divorcee Maud (Francoise Fabian).

La Collectionneuse (1967): The four and most savage of the set, about a turgid, philandering art dealer and his painter friend who take a trip on the Rivera for a calm summer getaway. But their vacation is destroyed by the encountering of Haydee, a bohemian, who has a reputation for being a harlot.

Claire’s Knee (1970): Near the end of the summer, Jerome plans to marry a diplomat’s daughter. But he finds himself and his loyalty tested by the sixteen-year-old Laura, and especially her older half-sister, Claire, who bares her lovely knee under a cherry tree.

Love in the Afternoon (1972): The sixth and final film in the set, about Frederic, a conservative executive who is happily married to his wife, Helene, and expecting their second child. He just can’t seem to shake his attraction from the many beautiful women who pass his way on a daily basis. It gets even worse when he encounters a plucky old flame at his office.

With this particular set of films, Rohmer established himself as a stylist of sexy, modern, provocative, and quite adult works of cinematic art that continue to influence and inspire other filmmakers to this very day. The supplements remain the same, but are still nonetheless very worthwhile. They include trailers; a conversation between Rohmer and Schroeder from 2006; four short films by Rohmer; a 1965 episode of the TV series En profil dans le texte, directed by Rohmer, on Blaise Pascal, the philosopher debated in “Maud”; archival interviews with Rohmer, and actors Jean-Claude Brialy, Béatrice Romand, Laurence de Monaghan, and Jean-Louis Trintignant, and film critic Jean Douchet; and producer Pierre Cottrell; and a 2006 video afterword by filmmaker Neil LaBute. The set is a digipak, so it also includes a booklet with essays by critics Geoff Andrews, Molly Haskell, Kent Jones, and others; excerpts from famed cinematographer Nestor Almendros’s 1980 autobiography; and Rohmer’s classic 1948 essay “For a Talking Cinema”. There’s also an English translation of Six Moral Tales, the book of stories by Rohmer, which the films are based on.

Whew, that is a lot! Not only do you have the six landmark films, and the supplements, but also the booklet to definitely keep you occupied during the ongoing, and rather gloomy quarantine. So, I obviously 100% recommend this set, especially if you don’t already own the original DVD edition.

Other releases:

The Lodge: Riley Keough plays a soon-to-be stepmom to her fiance’s two children, with whom she’s snowed in with. Just as they are starting to get along, disturbing and grim events threaten to expose the demons from her past.

Tigers Are Not Afraid: A creepy and chilling fairy tale about five kids trying to survive the violence of drug cartels and the demons that come from the war that surrounds them.

A Thousand Clowns: The great Jason Robards stars as Murray, the head writer of a popular TV show, who quits his job and seeks refuge in his Manhattan apartment, where he rebels along with his 12-year-old nephew.

Women Make Film: A 14-hour epic documentary by director Mark Cousins, spanning 13 decades and five continents, to give a spirited tour through the art and craft of Cinema, told from the rich point-of-view of female filmmakers.


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