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CLAIRE'S KNEE
1970 - Eric Rohmer
France
60
Opening Shot

Claire's Knee opens to a shot of a speed boat heading towards the camera overlooking a beautiful scene mountain view in the backdrop. The shot cuts to the back of the boat as it approaches an underpass to a bridge in which a lone woman is standing looking down at him.

The Film

To me Claire's Knee is French filmmaker Eric Rohmer's greatest film (or at least my favorite). It is just a lovely film. Rohmer's films can have an intoxicating effect (then again they can often work in the completely opposite direction for others). This is the fifth film of his 'Six Moral Tales' series. It's probably Rohmer's most beautifully structured film yet in the most simplistic nature. Situations and ironies develop before the plot does. There is no judgment placed on the characters but we discover psychological result of their decisions. Rohmer is fascinated with moral irony and philosophical knowledge and the emotions of his film is expressed without the use of many stylized techniques but rather in the pacing and in the placement of camera framing. The image of the young teenage girl on the ladder is the essence of this film and perhaps Rohmer's entire moral series. At the center of this film is a philosophical examination of human desire. Desire on several romantic levels (be it passionate, sexual, or obsessive desire) and it all derives from the seductive perfection of a young woman's knee. Of course dialogue is always the most prominent feature of Rohmer's films and he presents the talking in his films as a unique form of cinematic storytelling and style. Rohmer is a unique filmmaker even in comparisons to his French New Wave peers. His films are not for everyone, but if you like one chances are you'll like many of them. Claire's Knee is Rohmer at his peak and to me it is his most endearing film and greatest achievement as a filmmaker.

The Filmmaker

Eric Rohmer's unique filmmaking style is one that audiences generally would either love or hate. If you love one, you'll likely love them all or vise-versa. Rohmer came from the French film critic publication where many of his fellow New Wave colleagues came from (Cahiers du Cinema). His films can not be described as entertaining exactly, or at least in terms of plot. His filmmaking approach is much more simple then his New Wave counterparts in that he uses much less technique and much more dialogue. Often dialogue is the only aspect of his films as they are focused on growing a strong connection with the character (which is very often a young and thin woman) rather then with the overall plot. His films take some getting adjusted to but if you are willing they can be absorbing.

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