Six Moral Tales

http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film/direct-chair/rohmer.htm


 

The Monceau Bakery Girl       Suzanne's Career       My Night at Maud's

La Collectionneuse        Claire's Knee       Love in the Afternoon

 


Titles Screens

 


 

The multifaceted, deeply personal dramatic universe of Eric Rohmer has had an effect on cinema unlike any other. One of the founding critics of the history-making Cahiers du cinéma, Rohmer began translating his written manifestos to film in the sixties, standing apart from his new-wave contemporaries, like François Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard, with his patented brand of gently existential, hyperarticulate character studies set against vivid seasonal landscapes. This near genre unto itself 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, Six Moral Tales unleashed on the film world a new voice, one that was at once sexy, philosophical, modern, daring, nonjudgmental, and liberating.

Posters

Theatrical Releases: Various from 1963 - 72

  DVD Reviews

DVD Review: Criterion (6-disc) - Region 1 - NTSC

DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

Distribution Criterion Collection - Spines # 342 - # 348 - Region 1 - NTSC
Time: over 8 hrs. total on six discs
Audio French (original mono)
Subtitles English, None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion

Aspect Ratio:
All Original Aspect Ratios - 1.33 

Edition Details:

Transfers, supervised and approved by director Eric Rohmer
Exclusive new video conversation between Rohmer and Barbet Schroeder
Rohmer short films: Presentation, or Charlotte and Her Steak (1951); Nadja in Paris (1964); A Modern Coed (1966); The Curve (1999); and Véronique and Her Dunce (1958)
"On Pascal" (1965), an episode of the educational TV series En profil dans le texte directed by Rohmer, on the French philosopher Blaise Pascal, the subject of debate in My Night at Maud's
Archival interviews with Rohmer, actors Jean-Claude Brialy, Béatrice Romand, Laurence de Monaghan, and Jean-­Louis Trintignant, film critic Jean Douchet, and producer Pierre Cottrell
Video afterword by filmmaker and writer Neil LaBute
Original theatrical trailers
PLUS: Six Moral Tales, the original stories by Eric Rohmer, and a booklet featuring Rohmer's landmark essay “For a Talking Cinema,” excerpts from cinematographer Nestor Almendros's autobiography, and new essays by Geoff Andrew, Ginette Vincendeau, Phillip Lopate, Kent Jones, Molly Haskell, and Armond White


DVD Release Date: August 15th, 2006

6 Book-style slim cases inside a cardboard box
Chapters:
8, 11, 17, 14, 16 and 16 (respectively)

 

 

Comments:

The films of Eric Rohmer are very special to me. His work was my first real endeavor, and concert effort, to delve into foreign cinema (see my very old and in-much-need-of-update website on him HERE). His style captured me with its simplicity of production and intensity of the human emotional expressions of love, jealousy, selfishness, sexual dalliance, desire, morality, humor and impropriety. Rohmer's ability to capture the female essence on film may be unmatched. Many still consider him the greatest living film-maker in the world today. It was so gratifying when we heard that Criterion, the pinnacle of DVD production companies, were to undertake this boxset of his Six Moral Tales. For his loyal fans it is one of the most anticipated DVD packages ever produced.

Technical specifications of the discs: Each DVD is in an individual case - a beautiful slim book-style cardboard case (un-clickable) which is housed, along with two exceptionally bound books, in a large cardboard box. In keeping with their current policy of windowboxing (see our description in the comment section of our Kind Hearts and Coronets comparison HERE) these films are indeed all windowboxed with a black border circumventing the edge of the frame. Criterion have faithfully maintained the 1.33 aspect ratio that Rohmer shot almost all of his films in. Every feature film is transferred progressively. They all have original audio, optional English subtitles and are region 1 coded in the NTSC standard.

NOTE: The films/DVDs are not available separately but only in this package at present. 

Image quality: I never imaged that Rohmer's films (often shot in 16mm) could look as good as they do in this boxset. I've seen many appearances of his work (digital and analog), but can only assume that Criterion must have bumped them to 35mm (a costly production detail) - it says on their website:

'Director Eric Rohmer supervised and approved this new high-definition digital transfer, which was created on a Spirit Datacine from a 35mm interpositive (or from a 35mm duplicate negative). Thousands of instances of dirt, debris, and scratches were removed using the MTI Digital Restoration System.'   

Specifics: Understandably the shorter Suzanne's Career is the weakest of the six with some damage showing in the bottom of scene shifts, but in comparison to the Fox/Lorber DVD edition it has obviously had some attentive work done. The Monceau Bakery Girl looks fairly clean but its age and production method have it as the next to weakest in the collection. The final four - My Night at Maud's, La Collectionneuse, Claire's Knee and Love in the Afternoon look unbelievably good - as sharp as anyone could have hoped with Criterion's meticulously rendered contrast and brilliant colors (for the 3 that are in color). I was blown away by their crispness, clarity and detail. There are no digital artifacts here and no unsightly 'combing'. I was particularly impressed with My Night At Maud's which has a very pristine look to it. Now, there are very infrequent instances of light scratches and speckles but overall it is not a factor in viewing.  

NOTE: It may have been excessive to compare so many captures with the obvious lackluster Fox-Lorber editions, which are taken from unconverted PAL sources, are non-progressive, single-layered and have ingrained subtitles, but it helps you realize how fortunate all the 'region 1-locked' crowd are at having this Boxset now available to them. The differences in the two editions are phenomenal. The Fox/Lorber for the most part are cropped when shown beside to the Criterion transfers. Arrow films (PAL) extensive Rohmer Boxset (reviewed HERE) has only one of the Moral Tales and it is compared below (Love in the Afternoon). I could also have compared the French editions, which I also own, but they unfortunately do not have English subtitles. I can assure you they don't hold a candle to these new Criterion transfers.

Audio was very clean and consistent - as they are all mono they are expectantly lacking in dynamic range, but dialogue was always audible. I did notice that the Criterion subtitles are far more detailed than the Fox Lorber.

Supplements: The extras are extensive and I would guess that I am about 50% complete. From what I have seen - I enjoyed both Rohmer interviews (archival and the 'new'), 3 of his shorts, the Labute 'Afterword' and the included booklet which has brilliant essays on each segment (The Monceau Bakery Girl and Suzanne's Career are combined by Ginette Vincendeau). Nelson Almendros writes one for La Collectionneuse, and I especially enjoyed Kent Jones' called 'Chances Are...' about My Night At Maud's. Included at the end is 'For A Talking Cinema' by Eric Rohmer (this is an essay that actually first appeared in the French Journal Les temps modernes in Sept 1948). There is also a fine introduction in the booklet by Geoff Andrew. The other book included is quite large (262 pages) and is Rohmer's translated stories that he wrote of the Six Moral Tales.

Package: The package itself is visually beautiful. You can tell by the detail and work put into this that you are holding something very special in your hands. The photos chosen for the covers, booklets and box have a strong artistic sense to them - appropriate for Rohmer's work. Some extensive time and effort went into this. Like most items that Criterion produce they operative words would be 'totally professional'. No other DVD company can touch them in this area.

It might be premature but we would love to see this branch out into Criterion joining this effort with Rohmer's Tales of the Four Seasons and Comedies and Proverbs. It may be too much to hope for, but regardless this collection will immediately find a place in our Essentials DVDs listing. It is a wonderfully extravagant digital masterpiece. A keepsake for long-time fans and those yet to discover the masterful power of Rohmer's calmly-centered and emotionally-probing cinema. I consider this a must-own for all film fans - the DVD will undoubtedly be in top consideration for DVD of the Year for 2006.

NOTE: At the time of this review Amazon are still offering an extensive PRE-ORDER savings of 30% HERE.   

Gary W. Tooze

 





DVD Menus


 

Digital Extras: include some Rohmer shorts:
Presentation, or Charlotte and Her Steak (1951)
Nadja in Paris (1964)
A Modern Coed (1966)
The Curve (1999)
Véronique and Her Dunce (1958)

Other shorts, Interviews, Featurettes and an 'Afterword'...

 


 

Slim Book-style Case Cover

 

(aka " La Boulangère de Monceau" or "The Baker of Monceau" or "The Baker's Girl of Monceau" or "The Girl at the Monceau Bakery")

Starring Barbet Schroeder, Claudine Soubrier and Michèle Girardon

http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film/direct-chair/rohmer.htm
France 1963

Simple, delicate, and jazzy, the first of the Moral Tales shows the stirrings of what would become the Eric Rohmer style: unfussy naturalistic shooting, ironic first-person voice-over, and the image of the “unknowable” woman. A law student (played by producer and future director Barbet Schroeder) with a roving eye and a large appetite stuffs himself full of sugar cookies and pastries daily in order to garner the attentions of the pretty brunette who works in a quaint Paris bakery. But is he truly interested, or is she just a sweet diversion?

Screen Captures

 

(Criterion - Region 1- NTSC TOP vs.Fox/Lorber - Region 0 - NTSC BOTTOM)
 
NOTE: Subtitle capture is not exact frame!
 

(Criterion - Region 1- NTSC TOP vs. Fox/Lorber - Region 0 - NTSC BOTTOM)

(Criterion - Region 1- NTSC TOP vs. Fox/Lorber - Region 0 - NTSC BOTTOM)

 

 


Slim Book-style Case Cover

 

(aka "La Carrière de Suzanne" or "Suzanne's Career")

http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film/direct-chair/rohmer.htm
France 19
63

Starring Catherine Sée, Philippe Beuzen, Christian Charrière and Diane Wilkinson

 

Bertrand bides his time in a casually hostile and envious friendship with college chum Guillaume. But when ladies’ man Guillaume seems to be making a play for the spirited, independent Suzanne, Bertrand watches bitterly with disapproval and jealousy. With its ragged black-and-white 16mm photography and strong sense of 1960s Paris, Rohmer’s second Moral Tale is a wonderfully evocative portrait of youthful naiveté and the complicated bonds of friendship and romance.

 

 

Screen Captures

 

(Criterion - Region 1- NTSC TOP vs.Fox/Lorber - Region 0 - NTSC BOTTOM)

 

NOTE: Subtitle capture is not exact frame!

 

 

(Criterion - Region 1- NTSC TOP vs. Fox/Lorber - Region 0 - NTSC BOTTOM)

 

 

 


Slim Book-style Case Cover

 

(aka "My Night at Maud's" or "My Night with Maud" or "Six Moral Tales III: My Night at Maud's" Ma nuit chez Maud")

Starring Jean-Louis Trintignant, Françoise Fabian, Marie-Christine Barrault and Antoine Vitez

http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film/direct-chair/rohmer.htm
France 1969

In the brilliantly accomplished centerpiece of Rohmer’s Moral Tales series, Jean-Louis Trintignant plays Jean-Louis, one of the great conflicted figures of sixties cinema. A pious Catholic engineer in his early thirties, he lives by a strict moral code in order to rationalize his world, drowning himself in mathematics and the philosophy of Pascal. After spotting the delicate, blonde Françoise at Mass, he vows to make her his wife, although when he unwittingly spends the night at the apartment of the bold, brunette divorcée Maud, his rigid ethical standards are challenged. A breakout hit in the United States, My Night at Maud’s was one of the most influential and talked-about films of the decade.

 

 

Screen Captures

 

(Criterion - Region 1- NTSC TOP vs. Fox/Lorber - Region 0 - NTSC BOTTOM)

 

NOTE: Subtitle capture is not exact frame!

 

 

(Criterion - Region 1- NTSC TOP vs. Fox/Lorber - Region 0 - NTSC BOTTOM)

 


Slim Book-style Case Cover

 

(aka "Six contes moraux IV: La Collectionneuse" or "The Collector" or "La Collectionneuse" )

Starring Patrick Bauchau, Haydée Politoff, Daniel Pommereulle and Alain Jouffroy

http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film/direct-chair/rohmer.htm
France 19
67

A bombastic, womanizing art dealer and his painter friend go to a seventeenth-century villa on the Riviera for a relaxing summer getaway. But their idyll is disturbed by the presence of the bohemian Haydée, accused of being a “collector” of men. Rohmer’s first color film, La collectionneuse pushes the Moral Tales into new, darker realms. Yet it is also a grand showcase for the clever and delectably ironic battle-of-the-sexes repartee (in a witty script written by Rohmer and the three main actors) and luscious, effortless Néstor Almendros photography that would define the remainder of the series.

 

Screen Captures

 

(Criterion - Region 1- NTSC TOP vs. Fox/Lorber - Region 0 - NTSC BOTTOM)

 

NOTE: Subtitle capture is not exact frame!

 

(Criterion - Region 1- NTSC TOP vs. Fox/Lorber - Region 0 - NTSC BOTTOM)

 

(Criterion - Region 1- NTSC TOP vs. Fox/Lorber - Region 0 - NTSC BOTTOM)

 

 


Slim Book-style Case Cover

 

(aka "Le Genou de Claire" or "Claire's Knee")

Starring Jean-Claude Brialy, Aurora Cornu, Béatrice Romand and Laurence de Monaghan

http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film/direct-chair/rohmer.htm
France 1970

“Why would I tie myself to one woman if I were interested in others?” says Jerôme, even as he plans on marrying a diplomat’s daughter by summer’s end. Before then, Jerôme spends his July at a lakeside boardinghouse nursing crushes on the sixteen-year-old Laura and, more tantalizingly, Laura’s long-legged, blonde stepsister, Claire. Baring her knee on a ladder under a blooming cherry tree, Claire unwittingly instigates Jerôme’s moral crisis and creates both one of French cinema’s most enduring moments and what has become the iconic image of Rohmer’s Moral Tales.

 

Screen Captures

 

(Criterion - Region 1- NTSC TOP vs. Fox/Lorber - Region 0 - NTSC BOTTOM)

 

NOTE: Subtitle capture is not exact frame!

 

 

 

(Criterion - Region 1- NTSC TOP vs. Fox/Lorber - Region 0 - NTSC BOTTOM)

 

 

(Criterion - Region 1- NTSC TOP vs. Fox/Lorber - Region 0 - NTSC BOTTOM)

 

 


Slim Book-style Case Cover

 

 

(aka "L'Amour l'après-midi " or "Love in the Afternoon" or "Chloe in the Afternoon")

Starring Bernard Verley, Zouzou, Françoise Verley and Daniel Ceccaldi

 

http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film/direct-chair/rohmer.htm
France 1972

Though happily married to his adoring wife Hélène, with whom he is expecting a second child, the thoroughly bourgeois business executive Frédéric cannot banish from his mind the multitude of attractive Parisian women who pass him by every day. His flirtations and fantasies remain harmless until Chloe (played by the mesmerizing Zouzou), an audacious, unencumbered old flame, shows up at his office, embodying the first genuine threat to Frédéric’s marriage. The luminous final chapter to Rohmer’s Moral Tales is a tender, sobering, and wholly adult affair that leads to perhaps the most overwhelmingly emotional moment in the entire series.


 

Screen Captures

 

 

(Criterion - Region 1- NTSC TOP vs. Arrow Films - Region 0 - PAL MIDDLE vs. Fox/Lorber - Region 0 - NTSC BOTTOM)

 

NOTE: Subtitle capture is not exact frame!

 

 

(Criterion - Region 1- NTSC TOP vs. Arrow Films - Region 0 - PAL MIDDLE vs. Fox/Lorber - Region 0 - NTSC BOTTOM)

 


 

DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

Distribution Criterion Collection - Spines # 342 - # 348 - Region 1 - NTSC

 

 


Recommended Reading in French Cinema (CLICK COVERS or TITLES for more information)

The Films in My Life
by Francois Truffaut, Leonard Mayhew

French Cinema: A Student's Guide
by Philip Powrie, Keith Reader
Agnes Varda by Alison Smith Godard on Godard : Critical Writings by Jean-Luc Godard

The Taste for Beauty (Cambridge Studies in Film)

by Eric Rohmer

Notes on the Cinematographer by Robert Bresson The Art of Cinema by Jean Cocteau French New Wave
by Jean Douchet, Robert Bonnono, Cedric Anger, Robert Bononno
French Cinema: From Its Beginnings to the Present
by Remi Fournier Lanzoni

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