The most subtle and traditional of the many luminaries launched to prominence as a member of the French New Wave, Eric Rohmer is also among the movement's most consistent and enduring talents. Basing his work upon antecedents in literature as much as those in the cinema, Rohmer made his name crafting talky, feather-light romantic comedies and chamber dramas distinguished by economical camerawork, a warmly ironic tone, an affection for youth, and a fascination with place and time. His intensely personal private life -- according to legend, not even his own mother knew he was an internationally acclaimed, albeit pseudonymously named, filmmaker -- has stood in direct contrast to the emotional openness of his movies, which, in intimate and illuminating detail, explore the limitless entanglements, disappointments, and possibilities facing contemporary relationships.
Born Jean-Marie Maurice Scherer on December 1, 1920, in Nancy, France, Rohmer later relocated to Paris, where he worked variously as a newspaper reporter and a literature teacher. In 1946, he assumed another pseudonym, Gilbert Cordier, to publish a novel, Elizabeth. At the end of the 1940s, he began moving away from reporting to focus on film criticism, becoming a fixture of Henri Langlois' Cinematheque Francais alongside the likes of fellow movie buffs Jean-Luc Godard, Francois Truffaut, Jacques Rivette, and Claude Chabrol. In 1950 -- the year Rohmer completed his first 16 mm short film, Journal d'un scelerat -- he, Godard, and Rivette founded the short-lived Gazette du Cinema, and by the next year he and his cohorts had joined the staff of Andre Bazin's Cahiers du Cinema. After abandoning work on his never-completed feature debut, Les Petites Filles Modeles, in 1956, Rohmer assumed editorial control of the famed publication, a position he held for the next seven years. In 1957, he and Chabrol also collaborated on Hitchcock, an influential study of the film master.