Éric Rohmer

A Biography

Antoine de Baecque and Noël Herpe. Translated by Steven Rendall and Lisa Neal

Columbia University Press

Éric Rohmer

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Pub Date: June 2016

ISBN: 9780231175586

608 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $40.00£34.00

Pub Date: June 2016

ISBN: 9780231541572

608 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $39.99£34.00

Éric Rohmer

A Biography

Antoine de Baecque and Noël Herpe. Translated by Steven Rendall and Lisa Neal

Columbia University Press

The director of twenty-five films, including My Night at Maud's (1969), which was nominated for a Best Picture Academy Award, and the editor in chief of Cahiers du cinéma from 1957 to 1963, Éric Rohmer set the terms by which people watched, made, and thought about cinema for decades. Such brilliance does not develop in a vacuum, and Rohmer cultivated a fascinating network of friends, colleagues, and industry contacts that kept his outlook sharp and propelled his work forward. Despite his privacy, he cared deeply about politics, religion, culture, and fostering a public appreciation of the medium he loved.

This exhaustive biography uses personal archives and interviews to enrich our knowledge of Rohmer's public achievements and lesser known interests and relations. The filmmaker kept in close communication with his contemporaries and competitors: François Truffaut, Jean-Luc Godard, Claude Chabrol, and Jacques Rivette. He held a paradoxical fascination with royalist politics, the fate of the environment, Catholicism, classical music, and the French nightclub scene, and his films were regularly featured at New York and Los Angeles film festivals. Despite an austere approach to life, Rohmer had a voracious appetite for art, culture, and intellectual debate captured vividly in this definitive volume.

Antoine de Baecque and Noël Herpe achieve in this scrupulously researched volume the paradoxical feat of delivering the definitive biography of a pseudonymous subject. Eric Rohmer will interest film historians, theorists of film, enthusiasts of French cinema, and film directors both aspiring and established, for whom Rohmer's low-budget modus operandi remains one of the miracles of modern film production. This, the first biography of Rohmer (né Maurice Schérer), is likely also to be the last.

Derek Schilling, Johns Hopkins University

Rohmer was sensitive, very well educated, and at home with literature, music, painting and theater; the biography shows a happy life lived in such culture. It shows how this flows easily into his films, how they operate as experiments in feeling and perception. The book makes one hungry to see them all over again.

Dudley Andrew, Yale University

One of the most distinguished filmmakers of the French new wave.... [de Baecque and Herpe] pull off the high-wire act of appealing to both film scholars and lay readers with a combination of comprehensive research and engaging storytelling. The book will foster a renewed appreciation of a complex artist and the remarkable body of work he left behind.

Publishers Weekly (starred review)

An essential and ceaselessly enjoyable work of scholarship.... The most valuable gift afforded by this biography is the sheer joy of moving through the exacting, meticulous accounts of each stage of Rohmer's life and career, painstakingly researched and written as if the authors were striving for the same arresting attention to detail, subtlety, humor, and philosophical weight of his films.

Dan Sullivan, Film Comment

Biography of the year for cineasts.

Booklist (starred review)

Compulsively readable, this volume is a model of scholarship and style that no serious cinephile's library should be without.

Library Journal (starred review)

[A] superb new biography.

Richard Brody, The New Yorker

An intimate, anecdote-filled look at a legend.

Allen Pierleoni, The Sacramento Bee

Deeply researched and thoroughly enjoyable.

James Campbell, The Wall Street Journal

Comprehensive and definitive.... An utterly enthralling read.

Christopher Schobert, The Film Stage

An entertaining new biography.

Pascal Blum, Tages-Anzeiger

Excellent... definitive.... [A] wonderful book.

Gerald Peary, The Arts Fuse

A rich and thorough study.

Chris Fujiwara, Cineaste

The definitive overview of the director's life.


A thorough study of a great director. Highly recommended.


No doubt [de Baecque and Herpe's] enthralling biography will remain the ultimate text on the life and legacy of Eric Rohmer, just like Rohmer will live on as one of the ultimate figures of cinema.

Film International
The Mysteries of "le grand Momo"
1. Maurice Schérer's Youth: 1920–1945
2. From Schérer to Rohmer: 1945–1957
3. Under the Sign of Leo: 1959–1962
4. Under the Sign of Cahiers: 1957–1963
5. The Laboratory Period: 1963–1970
6. Four Moral Tales: 1966–1972
7. On Germany and the Pleasure of Teaching: 1969–1994
8. In Pursuit of Perceval: 1978–1979
9. Six Comedies and Proverbs: 1980–1986
10. The Rohmer of the Cities and the Rohmer of the Countryside: 1973–1995
11. In the Rhythm of the Seasons: 1989–1998
12. Filming History: 1998–2004
13. A Tale of Winter: 2006–2007
14. In Pain: 2001–2010

Read the chapter, "le grand Momo":

One of Publishers Weekly's Best Summer Books, 2016

About the Author

Antoine de Baecque is a professor of the history of cinema at the University of Nanterre. He has published biographies of François Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard and was editor in chief of Cahiers du cinema.

Noël Herpe is a senior lecturer at the Université de Paris VIII. He has published works on René Clair and Sacha Guitry, as well as a book of interviews with Éric Rohmer about his text Le Celluloïd et le Marbre.