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New Wave filmmaker Eric Rohmer dies at age 89

entertainment Updated: Jan 12, 2010 07:23 IST

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Director Eric Rohmer, one of the giants of modern French cinema, has died at age 89, his production company Campagnie Eric Rohmer said on Monday.

With other groundbreaking filmmakers, such as Jean-Luc Godard and Francois Truffaut, Rohmer was one of the founders of French New Wave cinema that in the 1950s and 1960s transformed French and world cinema forever.

In a career spanning nearly 60 years, Rohmer directed more than 50 feature films and shorts, for the big screen and television, becoming an international symbol for both what was good and bad about so-called art house films.

In movies such as My Night at Maud's (1969), Claire's Knee (1970) and Pauline at the Beach (1983), Rohmer depicted the behaviour and emotions of human beings, often in the grip of an irrational passion, in a style that conceded little to the demands of entertainment.

Talky, slow-moving, with few of the usual artifices of film-making, Rohmer's movies have legions of passionate fans and detractors.

"You have to see one of (Rohmer's movies), and if you kind of like that one, then you should see his other ones, but you need to see one to see if you like it," American filmmaker Quentin Tarantino once said in an interview.

Depending on the source, Rohmer was either born on March 21, 1920, as Maurice Henri Joseph Scherer, in the southern city of Tulle, or on April 4, 1920, as Jean-Marie Maurice Scherer in Nancy.

Asked why he took his assumed pseudonym, he replied, "It was a name I chose just like that, for no particular reason, only because I liked it."

At the age of 26, after having moved to Paris, he published his first and only novel, under a different pseudonym, Gilbert Cordier.

After working as a teacher of literature and a journalist, he found his life's calling at the legendary Cinematheque Francais, where he met some of his future collaborators in cinematic revolution.

He shot his first film in 1950. One year later, he began working on the Cahiers du Cinema, which became the mouthpiece and bible of the French New Wave. He served as editor-in-chief of the magazine from 1956 to 1963.

Rohmer's first major success, and the film that established him as a major international cinematic figure, was "My Night at Maud's", which was nominated for two Oscars and won several international prizes.

The numerous awards his films, directing and screenwriting have received include a Golden Lion at the 1986 Venice Film Festival, Silver Bears at the 1967 and 1983 Berlin Film Festivals and the 2000 National Society of Film Critics Awards for best foreign film.