Eric Rohmer Louis Marcorelles - Essay

Louis Marcorelles

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[The framework of Le Signe du Lion] is fragile, and it should not be judged only on its probability…. [The] film shows its originality in its ultra-realistic technique, its extreme objectivity in portraying the friction set up between a human being and society, his wearing down, his slow degradation. This is not a descriptive but a rigorously visual art. It calls for the complete participation of the viewer and his submission to what he sees. One is reminded of Albert Camus's novel L'Etranger, because the situation of the main character is equally extreme: he is outside society. In this case he is up against not words but stone, water, the sky; and with him we make an infinite number of discoveries: the walls of Paris, its monuments, the Seine. At certain moments the hidden camera has caught ordinary people passing by, living in their own worlds, knowing nothing of the misery of the man they pass in the street. Jess Hahn rummages in a litter bin; the sole of his shoe flaps; no one takes any notice … A cruel study, but never a sentimental one. Rohmer makes his points objectively: "ne prétendant que montrer, il nous dispense de la fraude de dire," as he once wrote himself about Buster Keaton. The dialogue is almost negligible; the interest is concentrated on human attitudes. It is a disquieting film…. (p. 85)

Louis Marcorelles, "Views of the New Wave," in Sight and Sound (copyright © 1960 by The British Film Institute), Vol. 29, No. 2, Spring, 1960, pp. 84-5.∗