Eric Rohmer's Six Moral Tales (The Criterion Collection)
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The Bakery Girl..., only 23 minutes long, has all the basic elements: A man, infatuated with one woman, flirts with another, all the while comforting himself with self-serving rationalizations and a comic lack of self-knowledge. This film's simplicity makes it more charming and satisfying than the more awkward efforts of Rohmer's next two films, Suzanne's Career (about a student who idolizes a callous older boy and only too late realizes that the girl they've been mocking may have a better grasp on life) and La collectioneusse (about a love triangle at a countryside estate; oddly, though released two years before the next film, it's presented as the fourth in the series), though each has moments of insight and delight. The remaining three movies are masterpieces: In My Night at Maud's, a Catholic engineer (the superb Jean-Louis Trintignant, Three Colors: Red) wrestles with his morals and his desires while spending the night with the enigmatic and alluring Maud (Francoise Fabian, 5 x 2). Claire's Knee gently mocks Les Liaisons Dangereuse as a man about to be married is goaded by a female friend into pursuing an infatuation with a young nubile nymph. And the last of the series, Love in the Afternoon (also known as Chloe in the Afternoon) follows a husband whose unconsummated affair with an old friend almost capsizes his happy marriage. What's most remarkable about this series is that, though each has virtually the same plot, watching all of these films in close succession only highlights their intricate differences and the complex shadings of delusion and yearning. Rohmer's work grows more fascinating the more familiar his methods become. Some filmgoers consider "nuance" code for "boring," but anyone who finds the collision of hearts and minds more exciting than car crashes will find Six Moral Tales revelatory and rewarding. --Bret Fetzer
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In my personal opinion, everyone should love Rohmer's style, but I will admit, from personal experience, that it may take a couple viewings before you become hooked. Rohmer's style is the epitome of subtlety. You won't find flashy jump cuts, over-the-top sound tracks, or beams of light piercing through a window casting the lead actor in a wash of bright light at the "moment of revelation".
Rohmer's style demands some commitment on the part of viewers--especially those of use who have been raised on standard Hollywood fare. But, oh, that commitment is rewarded hundred-fold once you become accustomed to the intimate style and subtle pacing of Rohmer's movies. He is one of the great masters of cinema.
Now to those who are already familiar with Rohmer's works . . .
I am one of those people who already owns DVD copies of most of Rohmer's films. One of my big gripes through the years has been the off-handed production of these DVD sets. Often it seems the movies have been rushed onto DVD with minimal restoration. Enter Criterion.
The Criterion set of "Six Moral Tales" is well up to their high standards of video and audio restoration. The visual look of these films is quite likely in line with what the original prints must have looked like when these movies first received theatrical release. I understand that Rohmer himself was involved in the restoration, which I'm sure didn't hurt.
In my opinion, the restored films are reason enough to get these sets. However, Criterion makes sure to lavish this box set with a treasure trove of bonuses.Read more ›
ERIC ROHMER'S Six Moral Tales series of films is a fascinating way to watch a major talent develop seemingly from nothing. They are available from Criterion in the USA and in a complete Rohmer set from Hong Kong (which includes the Criterion release minus most of the extras).
THE BAKERY GIRL OF MONCEAU (La Boulangere de Monceau) 1962
The Bakery Girl of Monceau is Rohmer's first attempt to turn a book of short stories ' the Moral Tales ' into film. It is a simple film running for 20 minutes, photographed in black and white, with non professional actors, natural sound, and the dialogue and commentary synchronised not too convincingly during post production. The streets of the city, the shops and the passers-by seem to get more attention than the central characters. The film has a strong documentary feel to it.
A young student is attracted to a girl he sees in the street, strikes up an acquaintance with her, then, during her mysterious disappearance, spends his time trying to seduce the bakery girl of the title, on the grounds that she doesn't matter to him. He finally wins her confidence, but drops her abruptly when the girl he has been looking for suddenly reappears.
The theme of the series makes its appearance. A man finds himself attracted to a woman, gets involved with another whom he regards as 'unsuitable', frees himself from the second woman and goes back to the first.Read more ›
Moral Tale #1 is the 23 minute B&W "THE BAKERY GIRL OF MONCEAU" (1962). The essence of Rohmer is already at work this early--a male narrator infatuated with two different women; Paris locales and a semi-documentary style; 16mm with single takes after a long rehearsal period because of budget limitations; a lot of non-professional actors sometimes playing variations of their real selves and creating their own dialogue; non-stop intelligent conversations in French with exhausting English subtitles. A law student meets a lovely young woman, loses her, befriends a plump and likeable bakery employee, gorges himself on her pastry to be around her, then rather unceremoniously dumps her at the end when the first girl shows up. Incidentally, Monceau is a district of Paris.
Also in B&W and rather short (55 minutes), Moral Tale #2 is "SUZANNE'S CAREER" (1963).Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
bought this as a gift. Recipient is very pleased, but then, he was already a Rohmer fan. There is were even two booklets, one describes each movie, one was more of a... Read morePublished 3 months ago by M tervs
The series of films, the accompanying book of stories by Rohmer which was the basis for the films, and their presentation is a fine example of Criterion's work. Read morePublished 16 months ago by Alexander J. De Santis
For those who find it useful, the six films and their production order is:
1. The Bakery Girl of Monceau (1963).
2. Suzanne's Career (1963)
3. Read more
we get to what folks did when the world had done gone modern but survived just fine that time without cell phones, message machines, and digital diversions in coy, canny, and... Read morePublished 22 months ago by Russell E. Scott
don't understand the appeal of Rohmer. his films are dry, cold, stiff and didactic. it's like he asked his actors to act like mannequins (English sense). Read morePublished on February 23, 2011 by Amazon Customer
While not all the films in this collection are equally splendid, there's enough here to keep the interest and show the fruits of marriage between brilliant acting and splendid... Read morePublished on February 24, 2010 by A. J. Stavsky
This collection of the Six Moral Tales is as near to a perfect assemblage and presentation as I've ever encountered. Read morePublished on January 30, 2010 by Nick
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