A Summer’s Tale

Conte d'été

Eric Rohmer, France, 1996


Rohmer has said that he got a lot of inspiration from the locations in which he filmed, such as in this example, here, on the beach at Dinard. The choice of large scale shots enables us to catch the semi-sociological reality of a Breton beach in summer with a documentary eye: bathers, children, groups under sunshades, holiday-makers reading… Amongst this anonymous crowd, the extras ignore each other, (a few looks to camera occur, but are kept in editing), the main character, Gaspard, literally emerges from the depth of field to come to us. He strolls along the beach, hesitating, as if he is looking for someone… The choice of a packed beach also has narrative value: Gaspard and Margot’s first encounter has to be by chance, it has to lead Gaspard, an indecisive character who lets himself be taken away by events, to walk, again, in front of Margot. The encounter happens in the midst of the hubbub on the beach, which Rohmer took care in keeping. Shouts, the cries of children and snippets of nearby conversations populate the shots. Rohmer, who constantly took care to anchor his characters in reality, made an aesthetic and ethical choice, inseparable from his particularly economical way of filming: he operated with a very reduced staff, sound is not recorded by way of boom mics, but by HF microphones hidden in the actors’ bathing suits or hair, enabling him to remain discrete; the process of filming must not disrupt the real, everyday environment that gives birth to the film.