Literature and history
in Eric Rohmer
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While photography and editing remain realist at base, art-historical allusions situate the film in relation to a broad history of representation in the West which partly transcends Kleist's story. This chapter focuses on the art or, rather, the difficulty of representing the past. It pays close attention to four of the director's costume films, each of which rethinks the cinema in relation to the artistic imaginary of past epochs. The bulk of Rohmer's fictions feature contemporary characters who lead modern lifestyles and use up-to-date language. On several occasions, the director has turned the clocks backward, looking to moments as remote as the high Middle Ages and Revolutionary and Napoleonic Europe, and as recent as the 1930s and 1940s. In Kleist's Die Marquise von O… of 1811, Rohmer ascribes total authority to the source text, literature-to-film adaptations, subordinating his designs to Kleist's narrator's indications of mood, action, and speech.

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