Rohmer retrospective kicks off with six moral tales of sex and desire

A scene from 1967’s La Collectionneuse.

“Boy meets girl. Boy flirts with girl. Boy leaves girl for another girl whom he already loves.”

That’s how the AV Club summarizes the plots of the films that make up Six Moral Tales. Yet while not much happens on the surface, this series of movies from French filmmaker Eric Rohmer are many a cinephile’s dream.

To celebrate Rohmer’s life (1920-2010) and work, Cinematheque is presenting an ongoing retrospective. The retrospective kicks off with Six Moral Tales, all of which focus on sexual temptation and the rationalization of desire. It’s a rare chance to see these classics, made between 1962 and 1972, on the big screen.

Along with François Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard, Rohmer was one of the the founding critics of the history-making Cahiers du cinéma.

In the writeup for its collection of Rohmer’s Six Moral Tales, arthouse DVD/Blu-Ray repackager Criterion said: “his patented brand of gently existential, hyperarticulate character studies set against vivid seasonal landscapes… was established with his audacious and wildly influential series ‘Six Moral Tales.’ A succession of jousts between fragile men and the women who tempt them, the ‘Six Moral Tales’ unleashed onto the film world a new voice, one that was at once sexy, philosophical, modern, daring, nonjudgmental, and liberating.”

Cinematheque is planning on screening more Rohmer films throughout the year. Six Moral Tales kicks off March 31 with a special opening night, then runs April 1-9. Opening night includes refreshments, and the first two films, with an introduction by Robert Ingram, co-editor of the French Film Directors Series.

Eric Rohmer's Claire's Knee

A scene from Eric Rohmer’s Claire’s Knee (1970).

The movies included in Six Moral Tales are the two relatively short features The Bakery Girl of Monceau (1962) and Suzanne’s Career (1963), My Night at Maud’s (1969), La Collectionneuse (1967), Claire’s Knee (1970), and Love in the Afternoon (aka Chloe in the Afternooon, 1972).

A scene from Love in the Afternoon (1972).

“What I call a conte moral is not a tale with a moral, but a story that deals less with what people do than with what is going on in their minds while they are doing it. A cinema of thoughts rather than actions,” Rohmer has said of his work.

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