Claire’s Knee (Le Genou de Claire) (1971)

Part of the The Underdog of the French New Wave: Eric Rohmer Film Season

Director: Eric Rohmer
Certificate: Unknown
Format: Unknown

"Original, complete, mysterious…practically perfect” – THE NEW YORK TIMES

Best Picture of the Year - The National Society of Film Critics


"Why would I tie myself to one woman if I were interested in others?” says Jerôme, even as he plans on marrying a diplomat’s daughter by summer’s end. Before then, Jerôme spends his July at a lakeside boardinghouse nursing crushes on the sixteen-year-old Laura and, more tantalizingly, Laura’s long-legged, blonde stepsister, Claire.

Baring her knee on a ladder under a blooming cherry tree, Claire instigates Jerôme’s moral crisis and creates both one of French cinema’s most enduring moments and what has become the iconic image of Rohmer’s Moral Tales.” – THE CRITERION COLLECTION


"Well honed since his directorial debut, Rohmer's own storytelling skills are impeccable here. The diary-style structure of the piece is quite brilliant." - BBC FOUR

"Claire's Knee Comes very close to being a perfect movie of its kind." - THE NEW YORK TIMES

"Claire's Knee is a difficult film to do justice to without over-selling it. It is so funny and so moving, so immaculately realized, that almost any ordinary attempt to describe it must, I think, in some way diminish it." - THE NEW YORK TIMES

"Claire's Knee" is a movie for people who still read good novels, care about good films, and think occasionally." - The Famous American Critic ROGER EBERT

"Intelligent dialogue and sumptuous photography" - FILMDEFRANCE.COM

"Rohmer’s haunting film is perhaps the cinema’s nearest approximation to Proustian discourse" - SIGHT AND SOUND



"Now if I were to say, for example, that "Claire's Knee" is about Jerome's desire to caress the knee of Claire, you would be about a million miles from the heart of this extraordinary film.

As with all the films of Eric Rohmer, "Claire's Knee" exists at levels far removed from plot. What is really happening in this movie happens on the level of character, of thought, of the way people approach each other and then shy away. In some movies, people murder each other and the contact is casual; in a work by Eric Rohmer, small attitudes and gestures can summon up a university of humanity." - ROGER EBERT


"Claire's Knee is about self-deception, about cruelty, about a certain kind of arrogance that goes with wisdom, and very much about sex. It is no accident that the beautiful, lean, comparatively stupid Claire, for whom Jerome conceives his "pure desire," is the only person in the movie enjoying, at the moment, a completely satisfactory, uninhibited sex life." - THE NEW YORK TIMES


Claire's Knee is part of a series of 6 films that Rohmer called "Moral Tales".

The 6 films are based on the same story line:

"A man falls in love with a woman, thereby forming a commitment, either in fact or in principle, and then must navigate safe passage through sexual temptation by relying on (and sometimes discovering) his moral code, proving himself worthy of that love." - from the BRITISH FILM INSTITUTE


"Rohmer's brand of morality is subjective and non-judgemental; his characters include students and petits bourgeois and the idle rich, Catholics and atheists, singles and marrieds-with-children, and their standards vary. The point is "to thine own self be true" as the series depicts the ways in which thoughtful people can meet themselves in the mazes of their own stratagems, and how their true selves are sometimes at odds with the people they think they are or aspire to be." - BRITISH FILM INSTITUTE

These films are all based on the story of the incredible silent film Sunrise, from Murnau (the German Director of Nosferatu). If you haven't seen that film by the way - you should - a pure gem.

The other films part of the series of the "Moral Tales" are: La Collectionneuse, My Night at Maud's (showing here on the 9 July), 2 short films (showing on 21 June), and Love in the Afternoon.


2009 marks the 50th anniversary of one of the most significant movements in the history of cinema, the French New Wave. To celebrate, we have decided to run a season of films from one of the lesser known great filmmakers of this revolutionary movement: Eric Rohmer.

"One of the most extraordinary directorial careers in the history of cinema" - SIGHT AND SOUND

"One of the great classical artists of the last half-century" - THE INDEPENDENT

This season would not have been possible without the support of the Institut Francais and CulturesFrance.

Other films in the The Underdog of the French New Wave: Eric Rohmer Film Season:


Film: The Romance Of Astrea And Celadon (Les Amours D’Astree And Celadon) (2007)

14 Jun 2009, 7:30 p.m.

"A surprising yet subtly fitting coda to one of the most extraordinary directorial careers in the history of cinema" - SIGHT AND SOUND


Film: 3 Short Films From The 1960'S (1963)

21 Jun 2009, 7:30 p.m.

Tonight is a very rare chance to see Rohmer’s first short films, absolute little gems.


Film: My Night At Maud’S (Ma Nuit Chez Maud) (1969)

9 Jul 2009, 7:30 p.m.

Nominated for 2 Oscars and officially selected at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival.


Film: Pauline At The Beach (Pauline A La Plage) (1983)

12 Jul 2009, 7:30 p.m.

Winner of the Silver Bear at the Berlin Film Festival, "Pauline at the Beach is another rare Rohmer treat.” – The New York Times