Monday, July 17, 2017

Cine Montage Nagpur : My thoughts on Eric Rohmer's "Claire's Knee"

Every Sunday I attend the movie screenings organised by Cine Montage Film Society, Nagpur. The film society conducts these movie screenings at the AV Hall, Dinanath Jr. College & High School, Dhantoli. Last Sunday Cine Montage screened a film directed by one of the pioneers of 'French New Wave' - Eric Rohmer. The film is titled - "Claire's Knee".

Claire's Knee - Poster Art.

About Eric Rohmer

Eric Rohmer was a french film critic who successfully transformed his career into filmmaking. He was a teacher, journalist and later on edited the well renowned Cahiers du Cinema magazine founded by Andre` Bazin.

Eric Rohmer - Director of "Claire's Knee"

Claire's Knee

The movie went on to win San Sebastian Award at Venice Film Festival, 1971. The story revolves around the protogonist Jerome, who is on a pre-marriage vacation develops an obsession to touch a girl's knee. Now that may sound strange, but the movie is indeed about the aforementioned fetish. Jerome repeatedly tries to touch her splendid knee, and eventually succeeds while consoling her in the climactic scene.

Above said, the movie is also so much about things other than his obsession.

Audience present at screening of Claire's Knee by Cine Montage film society, Nagpur

Obsession of French people with idea of love

Each character in Rohmer's "Claire's Knee" is wanting for love. Every character has a different idea of romantic relationships, and are either into one or are into the process of wanting one. They are very vocal about their needs and longing for love. This film also shows the growing trend in french culture of changing partners quite frequently. Something which has come to be seen as 'normal'. This is very contradicting to the Indian mindset. The film is set in a lavishly green and natural outset. Cinematographically, it imparts a very very romantic look to it. There is a lot of poetic meaning to derive from the visuals themselves. The romantic look thus contributes to the storyline and the gentleness of the French.

Portrayal of relationships through mutual respect

There is a sense of respect between the characters about the relationships that they share among themselves. They are aware of the differences of the opinions. For instance, the teenager Laura is concerned of her misbehaviour with her mother and the brutal words she says in fits of rage repeteadly. Her classic teenage behaviour is overridden by her action of opening up to Jerome about her self awareness. Another instance which can be drawn is at the very end of the movie. Even after Jerome reveals to Claire about her boyfriend's lie [and consoles her by touching her knee rather erotically when she weeps], Claire in the end patiently interrogates her lover and on knowing the truth rather gently gets convinced about his loyalty.

Self-contradicting character of Laura

Laura repeatedly says that she is mature and keeps on doing rather kiddish things on the contrary. Although her relationship with her mother is shown casually and frankly at a great extent, it does not help in preventing differences between them. Laura certainly disapproves of her mother's expectations from her. Later on, we know that she couldn't fulfill her own expectations. May be the expectations were a lie.

Liberalism among women

The film portrayed in a plethora of ways the liberalism that women enjoyed since so early in French society. The transparant friendship that Jerome and Aurora share is a great treat to watch.

Overall, I learnt a great deal about the french from this movie. This movie is actually the fifth of Rohmer's "Six Moral Tales". Although universal, the film is primarily made for the French audience, and is certainly hard for a general Indian mindset to comprehend.