The Éric Rohmer Collection
The French New Wave's Éric Rohmer – a specialist in tales of love and its complications – is celebrated in this ten film box-set from Arrow
Exploring a great filmmaker’s body of work for the first time can be a daunting prospect. Where do you start with someone like Éric Rohmer, who made 24 features over the course of almost 50 years? Fortunately, the Frenchman gave us a number of easy access points into his oeuvre, collecting many of his films into thematic groupings.
Arrow’s new ten-film Éric Rohmer collection is built around his six-film Comedies and Proverbs series; a cluster of beautifully crafted films that are emblematic of the style and themes that were consistent across his career. Many of these films are masterpieces, although they’re the kind of deceptively simple masterpieces that don’t immediately reveal their greatness. You might spend the first half of The Aviator’s Wife or The Green Ray wondering where exactly this talky drama and casual, meandering rhythm is leading us, but the film’s emotional depth sneaks up on you.
Beyond this sextet, Arrow’s release shines a light on some of Rohmer’s lesser-known works. His 1993 film The Tree, the Mayor and the Mediatheque is an unusually pointed political satire, while Four Adventures of Reinette and Mirabelle is arguably his funniest picture – it almost feels like a Rohmer-directed sitcom. All ten of these astonishingly rich films are immediately engaging and reveal new depths with every revisit, and newcomers to Rohmer’s world will undoubtedly be left hungry for more.
Rohmer fans have already been well-served on blu-ray with Potemkine’s exhaustive 2013 set, but the English-language extras included here make Arrow’s release feel like a valuable addition. Éric Rohmer himself provides introductions to each of the Comedies and Proverbs instalments while avowed fan Richard Ayoade intelligently discusses the director’s style and legacy. There is also a treasure trove of archive content here, including on-set footage, documentaries and interviews with numerous Rohmer collaborators. Among these, perhaps the standout is the hour-long profile of the great cinematographer Néstor Almendros, the man whose mastery of light is shown off superbly by these new transfers. [Philip Concannon]
Released by Arrow Video