Eric Rohmer, Place de L'Etoile, 1965, still from a black-and-white film in 35 mm, 15 minutes. Right: Jean-Marc (Jean-Michel Rouziere). From the anthology film Six in Paris, 1965.


Six in Paris (1965) is a collection of vignettes filmed by the era’s leading French directors and produced by Barbet Schroeder, who, with Eric Rohmer, had formed the production company Les Films du Losange three years earlier. Rohmer’s own comic contribution to the anthology portrays the fastidious Jean-Marc, a former runner now working in a clothing shop near the Place d’Etoile, who thinks he may have accidentally murdered a drunk in a mild street tussle. It’s the anomaly in a collection otherwise dedicated to love’s squabbles.

The temporal compression heightens the melodrama. Claude Chabrol, in his view of La Muette, plays a disgusting upper-class husband who fights with his constipated wife so much that their son takes to wearing earplugs, with disastrous consequences. Schroeder himself stars in Jean Rouch’s portrait of the district around the Gare du Nord; an argument with his wife, played by Nadine Ballot, precipitates a dramatic encounter for her on the street. Jean-Daniel Pollet’s tender sketch portrays the awkward interactions between a no-nonsense prostitute and a childlike john who works as a dishwasher in a nearby restaurant. And Jean-Luc Godard inserts into Montparnasse a Canadian girl who tries to game her two lovers—one wields a blowtorch as a sculptor, the other as an auto detailer—and ends up losing them both.

Tricks, cons, romantic vicissitudes, all set against the kinetic backdrop of the City of Light: The six shorts are certainly emblematic of New Wave style, but not of Schroeder’s career as a whole. He went on to direct films of his own, including 1970s-era documentaries on Idi Amin Dada and Koko, the infamous “talking” gorilla, and the Hollywood hits Reversal of Fortune (1990) and Single White Female (1992). He acts, too: Mainstream American audiences may remember him as the mechanic in Wes Anderson’s The Darjeeling Limited (2007). The “Mad Obsessions” series surveys Schroeder’s peripatetic and malleable output; but hurry to see Six in Paris, which screens only until tomorrow.

Brian Sholis

“Mad Obsessions: The Films of Barbet Schroeder” runs at the BAMcinématek in Brooklyn until October 21. Six in Paris screens as part of the series through October 9. For more details on the series, click here.