15 July 2016

From Baudelaire to Eric Rohmer

"What one can see out in the sunlight is always less interesting than what goes on behind a windowpane. In that black or luminous square life lives life dreams. life suffers.  

Across the ocean of roofs I can see a middle-aged woman, her face already lined, who is forever bending over something and who never goes out.  Out of her face, her dress, her gestures, out of practically nothing at all, I have made up this woman;s story, or rather legend, and sometimes I tell it to myself and sleep.
If it had been an old man I could have made it up just as well.

And I go to bed proud to have lived and to have suffered in someone besides myself.

Perhaps you will say " are you sure that your story is the real one?"    But what does it matter what is really outside myself, so long as it has helped me to live, to feel that I am, and what I am?"
    - excerpt from "Windows" by Charles Baudelaire

I am immersed in the new  book  Eric Rohmer: a biography by Antoine de Baecque and Noel Herpe.  Although it is over six hundred pages long it will not last the month; it has me under its spell. When I looked at this still  frame from Rohmer's 1967 film La Collectioneuse I thought of the poem Windows" by the 19th century poet Charles Baudelaire, the dyspeptic 19th century flaneur.  It strikes me that Baudelaire's words prefigure the cinematic imagination. The gorgeous cinematography of the late Nestor Almendros.(1930-1992)  captures the beauty of natural light; not simple to do but straightforward in its aim.

To read: Eric Rohmer: a biography by Antoine de Baecque and Noel Herpe, translated from the French by Steven Rendall and Lisa Neal, New York, Columbia University Press: 2016.

Image:Nestor Almendros

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