MovieChat Forums > Pauline at the Beach (1983) Discussion > What's up with Rohmer and the young girl...

What's up with Rohmer and the young girls?


OK, if anyone has seen other films by Rohmer (who does tend to repeat himself), you get the sense that he thinks it's cool for twenty to thirty something guys to seduce 14 year old girls. (yes, I know it's only suggested here, but Claire's Knee, among others, has a similar motif) Is this guy an exalted pedophile or what? Does he get away with it simply because he's French?

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No the French are much more free thinking than Americans. So they don't worry about people being "pedophiles" if an older man and a younger woman get toghether. Why are Americans morally puritanical?

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The OP was asking about 14 year old girls, not a younger woman, as acumensch twisted it.

We Americans are "morally puritanical" about old men taking very young girls because we believe that a very young girl is not mature enough to make the decision she would make under the same circumstances were she older (around 21 years of age). It is well known that older men can look very attractive to a young girl, partly as a way to hurry up their entry to adulthood, and it is also well known that a girl can be unduly influenced by their proximity to such an older male, such as in a teacher/pupil relationship.

Men who resort to the "free thinking" argument simply want to screw young girls. They certainly aren't thinking about the girls. Simple enough for anyone to see and understand.

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Edgar Ellen Poe married a 13 year old "Girl" and they had children iirc.
Nature knows only about fertility and the age limits like 18 are artificial. Older men often had more wealth and experience to care better about the kids.

I don't consider this one a lolita movie.

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Your Poe comparison is inapt. Their relationship seems to have been more like one between siblings (Poe even nicknamed his wife "Sis"); furthermore, they didn't share a bed for the first two years of their marriage, and even after that, many historians think it unlikely that they ever consummated their marriage. I suppose it goes without saying that they had no children.

Even if they had consummated their marriage when she was 13, however, it wouldn't make your argument any stronger. Why should a sexual relationship between a young teenage girl and a man in his late twenties be okay just because a famous poet did it back in 1835? Not to mention that fertility has nothing to do with a young girl's psychology.

And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.

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I think his point was to say who are we Americans to feel morally superior when we've practiced the same behaviors? It seems like a fair question to me.

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Child brides used to be as common in parts of the USA as in darkest Yemen.

More importantly, the average age of loss of virginity amongst American girls is dropping constantly. Many, probably the majority, now have sex as young as 13.

Logically why panic about these almost pre-teen sluts having sex with older men? They should not be having sex with their teenage boyfriends either.

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I don't understand why you guys are so upset. In Claire's Knee and Pauline at the Beach nothing happens between the older man and the young girl. Rohmer is just acknowledging that the attraction is there.

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14 and 15 year olds are NOT children, they are teenage girls. Its perfectly natural to find teenage girls sexually attractive and its perfectly natural for 14 and 15 year old girls to have sex. At this age most young women have gone through puberty. They have sexual desires, they can produce children, and they are attractive to males. This is part of Nature's grand design; Nature INTENDS for teenagers to have sex, and for teenage girls to have a mutual attraction with older males. These ridiculous artificial age limits (such as an "age of consent of 16") are nothing more than human social constructs. Such constructs completely defy all logic and Natural Order. If teenagers were not meant to have sex, they would not go through puberty and would not have strong sexual desires. That is Nature's signal for a sex life to begin. The "child porn" and "pedophelia" witch hunts are not even in line with human history or social and biological trends across cultures and time. In fact, the AVERAGE age of marriage throughout European and American history was 14!Most young women had sex then at age 14. Right up until the twentieth century it was very common for 14-16 year old women to marry older men. (usually the men would be 25-45 years old. ) In France and most European countries the age of consent is still 14. Most of us have great grandmothers in our family tree who got married and had children while they were well under the age of 18. This is true for almost every culture in the world, and it didn't hurt them and families grew up fine. There is NO EVIDENCE WHATSOEVER that there is any harm at all for teenage girls to have sex with older men. The laws that pushed up the age of consent did so with NO scientific evidence showing demonstrable harm. In fact, Kinsey (the world-famous sexologist who did most of the scientific research into sex) found that it was perfectly natural and normal for even children to engage in some forms of sex play. He also found that most teenagers have had sex and most of those who had sex with older adults found the experience to be positive. His research was quashed by Republican politicians catering to the prudes on the religous right and paranoid parents. They would not let a little thing like evidence stand in the way of their political agenda; thus the age of consent laws, child porn laws, and pedophelia laws started springing up. Many of these laws didn't even exist prior to 1980.

Teenage girls naturally have sexual desires and they masturbate (often to fantasies of older men such as rock stars, movie stars, etc) and they already are having sex with teenage boys. The average teenage girl loses her virginity around age 15, and they engaged in oral sex or handjobs much younger than that. So the idea that these teenage girls are "innocent victims" who need to be protected from the big bad men who will prey upon them is nothing more than a laughable mythology. Its terrible that morons are unable to distinguish between CHILDREN and TEENAGERS. These child porn and pedophelia laws should only apply to actual children (those who have not entered puberty; usually under the age of 13). Teenagers are NOT children and should NOT be included in CHILD porn laws or pedophelia laws. Society needs to grow up and stop having paranoid witch hunts and learn to operate based on truth and logic.

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I have to agree with everything kellycastlebridge said. I'd like to add this; I've done a bit of research on Laura Ingalls Wilder and her bio (Little House writer). While she married Almonzo Wilder when she was 18, they courted for several years before that. Almonzo was 10 years older than her. Her sister, Carrie, married a man 16 years older than her. That was the norm in THIS country for many years. It changed with the industrial revolution and the push for more education. We, as a species, are driven to procreate. Men can father children well into old age, while women have a limited time span to bear children. In that respect, I feel men will almost always be sexually attracted to 14, 15, 16 year old girls. I'm not saying it's right to try and have sex with a 14 year old, I'm just saying that the drive is in us at a basic level whether we want to admit it or not.

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Thank goodness for some common sense, kellycastlebridge.

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When I read comments on IMDB about movies with a sexual theme, sooner or later comes the complaint from a Brit or European: oh, why are you Americans so puritanical? Why are you so rigid and uptight about sex? Hmm. Don’t they teach history in your schools? If not, consider this short primer:

Here in America, in New York, is a statue, Lady Liberty, given to us by the French. It’s true - look in up in Wikipedia. Within the statue is enscribed, “Give us your tired, your hungry, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free...” And Europe did. By the thousands of boatloads, for decades on end. Were these huddled masses the cream of European society? No. A cross-section perhaps? Again, no. They were almost entirely peasants, your lower class, your “wretched refuse,” as the inscription goes on to say. From heavily Catholic Ireland and Poland and Italy they came. From heavily Lutheran Germany they came.

Even the first Europeans to arrive were a mix of peasants and religious zealots. We exist as a nation because we used force to gain freedom from Britain, our colonial master (really, it’s all there in Wikipedia). The American Revolution mirrored the many revolts prior to that in Europe, when peasants or serfs there sought freedom. In Europe, peasants who revolted were slaughtered by soldiers of the State or the Church. Survivors were herded back to the fields. In America however, we peasants won. We had the home field advantage, and Britain’s king was quietly going mad.

Why does this matter? Every survey or study undertaken shows that it is a society's lower class that clings most fervently to the Church for moral guidance. More to the point, it is the lower class that is always the most conservative and traditional; the most resistant to changes in sexual attitudes.

We remain that way. We have existed for two centuries in splendid isolation. In our attitudes toward sex and even nudity, we still reflect our lower class heritage; the mores of our peasant ancestors. We are not you. You created us with your overpopulation and the rigid social caste systems of your ancestors. But we are not you. We never have been, and perhaps never will be. End of lesson.

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But it's all sham, all a plywood facade like on a Hollywood movie set that hides what is really going on across America, where teenagers, many below the age of consent, are engaging in sexual relationships ALL the time. It's an epidemic. But instead of coming to terms with it and encouraging SAFE sex, like, for example, the Dutch do with their young people, Americans just pretend it's not happening and all teenagers are as pure and chaste as a Disney movie. Risible.

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They inherited it from us British. We are THE nation par excellence that encourages the paedogeddon. Here, it's the National Hysteria.

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It's the French. This motif shows up in quite a few films and other fictional forms. And it doesn't signify pedophilia (technically a perverse love of children) the key is that they are young women, not girls, who are often wiser than the older women in the story. But its only a certain type.

Americans react strongly for both good and bad reasons. One reason is that American teens tend to be a lot more childish than French girls. I can say that this is an observation of both at close hand. Thus imagining the same thing in America seems weird. Also Americans have the idea that the ideal couples are "high school sweethearts". So it seems utterly strange to us, Americans, that an older man and a teenage girl (not woman) would be good partners. Also rather than this being a function of "puritanism", (It is always the first word slung around by people who have little idea who the Puritans were historically, Victorian would be a much better word. There are almost no "puritanical" Americans these days. Even the Christians now have the romantic era morality much more than the hard logic of the Puritans.) in fact the equal age issue is NOT a sexual thing primarily. It is a strange application of the concept of democratic equality. The only problem is that it doesn't take account of the fact that boys and girls develope emotionally at much different rates. And now that American high school kids have more uncommited sex than ever before it creates a strange situation where the girls are prey to the largely clueless male population of similar age.

Rohmer appreciates young women without a doubt. They have the ability to raise questions that get trampled as women age and are subject to life's worries. But it should be noted that Rohmer has a an awful lot more on his mind. Beatrice Romand is first seen as an intelligent 15 year old in Claire's Knee, But in autumn tale she is 45 dealing with her midlife crisis. A Beatrice Romand or Amanda Langlet in Pauline and Summer Tale clearly interest Rohmer as individuals, not simply as teens. Rohmer is interested in life, dialogue, love and wisdom. And his artistic vision of women is quite full. We can learn much from it.

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i like your "analysis" of rohmer and his precocious teenage girl characters, "gulag." although, a "gulag" is where a guy even entertaining the flirtations of one of rohmer's lolitas in america would most likely find himself (l.o.l.)
also, hadn't spotted that beatrice romand progression before.
one thing i do know: who's better qualified to do filmed essais on positively inexplicable mysteries of the sickness we call "love" but a frenchman :-)

gregory (a.k.a., "gregoire") 020707

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Good analysis, Gulag

Has anyone seen American Beauty? That's an example where an American film protrays an older man with a teenage girl. The outrage over his "fantasy" scenes were everywhere. I know other Anglo-Amer-puritan types who said they turned the movie off because of it. Of course, in Rohmer, you don't get the sense that an older man with a young woman is wrong. But in American Beauty, you know that he is doing something morally repugnant.

Does Rohmer ever use motifs about high school sweethearts? I think the closest he comes is in Boyfriends and Girlfriends. But even then they are in college, not high school. And even then they talk freely and openly, except not entirely open because the plot revolves around a glaring ambiguity.

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Rohmer's (= European) girls are aware of their sexuality and they know how to respond, how to deal with it (we are not talking about predators catching 8 year old kids). They know what to accept and what to refuse, they determine limits. (Pauline is a great example.) And they can do it because the society enables them to gain informations and make their own attitudes. They are free to be personalities, individuals. (However, I am concerned about huge American influence on new generations of parents.)

It is interesting that American girls, who are so protected, manage to be leading in teenage pregnancies among western civilization countries.

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"One reason is that American teens tend to be a lot more childish than French girls."

I have a teenage French niece, and I know many of her friends. This line simply isn't true. However sophisticated they may play, they are still children. Adults messing with children simply isn't acceptable.

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Most men are attracted to teenage girls. The French admit it and are open to discussing it. Americans deny it and bury it deep inside, fearful of sin.

This is the only difference.

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Chapaev36, I think you have a point.

To the original poster, you obviously haven't seen many Rohmer films. Claire's Knee and this film are the only ones I'm aware of that even touch on the sexuality of underage girls, and you could hardly say that either was done in an unsubtle or exploitative manner. I mean, imagine a film like Claire's Knee in the hands of several modern directors. Your post would be offensive if it wasn't so moronic.

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[deleted]

So much to disagree on here.

1) Perhaps it's subjective. Obviously age diminishes beauty, but I don't reckon that takes effect until at least late 30s/40s (of course it depends on the woman). A 15 year old girl is still developing, so she hasn't reached her peak yet.
2) "ridiculous laws saying that when ur 17 u can't sleep with them, but magically a day later when they turn 18 they're all ready to have sex". As ridiculous as it may seem to you, it is the law's role to draw these lines. Yes, of course there is no difference between an 18 year old and a 17-and-364-day-old - however, a line is necessary, and that is where it has been drawn.
3) Just because the body is ready, doesn't mean the mind is. 13 year old girls are simply too young to get into a sexual relationship, whatever you say, the maturity simply isn't there. Same, generally, goes for 14 year olds and 15 year olds. The law is there to protect girls that young from being taken advantage of.

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Under the current laws, a fifteen year old girl who emails a naked photo of herself to her sixteen year old boyfriend has been convicted of child pornography. In many states, if two teens have been having sex for two years in a committed relationship and then one of them turns 18, the older is now eligible for the same punishment as a violent rapist. If convicted, after serving prison time, the new 18 year-old must now register as a sex offender wherever they move. Utter nonsense. These laws are broken and immoral. The situations created by such stupid laws are perfect examples of how legality and morality are only similar in theory.

I recently read a proposal which stated that we should draw three lines and have different penalties as more are crossed. The three thresholds are at physical maturity, intellectual maturity, and emotional maturity. Physical maturity could be simply 12 years old or completion of puberty. Intellectual maturity is more difficult to test for, so a simple age test of 17-18 makes the most sense. Emotional maturity is even more difficult to nail down, but most people are far enough along by 23-25 years old. These thresholds can be made into a law that punishes with more proportion and wisdom than we have currently.

Cross the physical maturity threshold? Juvenile or adult felony.
One party under the intellectual maturity threshold and more than two years apart? Middling to severe misdemeanor.
One party under the emotional maturity threshold and more than four years apart? Petty misdemeanor.
Cross two or more thresholds? Felony.

Anyway, a system with more shades of gray makes more sense to me than our current single threshold "black and white". Who knows? Maybe we can convince our lawmakers to do better. The Europeans certainly appear to have done better.

As for Rohmer and the French, most teenage girls are physically attractive to heterosexual men and it makes more sense to admit it than deny it. I can't stand to hear the chatter of American teen girls, but see no need to apologize for looking at their curves. The chatter of European girls is a little easier on the ears, but not enough better for my taste.

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A lot of Scorsese's characters killed. Many of them were rapists. One of them was Jesus.

Does Scorsese want to be a mudering, raping, Messiah?

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Don't pick on Rohmer. As others have pointed out, this is a general tendency in French cinema, even among female directors like Catherine Breillat (and Rohmers' films are usually comparatively tasteful). What's cool about French movies though is they don't separate the adult and "teen" world like they do in America. The teenage girls in French movies tend to be ridiculously precocious (teenage girls in real life aren't quite so attractive once they start talking), but you also don't have this artificial separation of the adult and teenage world and the strange Americna obsession with all things "teenage".

Then there's the refreshing lack of hypocrisy: when a scantily-clad, attractive sixteen-year-old girl walks down the street in France men of all ages openly stare. When the same thing happens in America, the men all cast furtive glances and feel guilty about it. Still teenage pregnancy is a lot lower in France than America, so American men obviously aren't really any more "moral" (that or sex. ed, birth control, etc. is a lot more effective in France).

Also, you should consider the time period. 14-year-old girls seemed a lot older back in the 1980's somehow (maybe because I myself was about 14 back then). The "lolita"-theme was much prevalent in 70's and 80's movies, not just in France, but even in more "conservative" countries like the US, England, and Italy than it is today. Teenagers really don't appear today except in "teen movies" that adults usually can't stomach watching (even your most committed perverts). This seems to be the case increasingly even in France, which for better or worse, is becoming more and more like Hollywood.

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Instead of that "three lines" malarkey, make it simple: Move to France and be gone with the Victorian mindset in Anglo-Saxon countries.

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Its interesting how girls only need to be protected.

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I've seen about a dozen Rohmer films and havn't noticed a young-girl fetish. Cute teenage girls are in some of his movies, but the majority of the dozen I've seen the attraction is between adults of approximate age. Ebven when there's been a noticeable age difference, it hasn't been so great as to be creepy.

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Henri is the only man who tries to be intimate with her and he is portrayed negatively. I can only assume you're basing this on another film.


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Pauline at the Beach 9/10



This story is already over

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the fact is that most if his films deal with men NOT having sex with women as their defining actions. rohmer simply has one of the best eyes for actress talent. he has a top notch record of taking young, non professionals and elliciting world class film acting performances. langlet, here and in conte d'ete, is magnificent.

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How naive you are to make such crass comments. Do you know anything about the world at all? Or do you get a thrill from insinuating that someone is a pedophile?
And for your information, a pedophile is someone sexually attracted to pre-pubertal children. Idiot.

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Pauline is 15, and the age of consent in France is 15. He is a drooling old fool, but not a pedophile. Most of Europe has ages of consent at 15-16 years of age.

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And some European countries are younger than that.

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Guess Rohmer didn't consult the Guide for the Politically Correct when he made his movies! Calling this director a pedophile tells me more about you than anything else. When you say he's getting away with something, what the hell are you talking about?

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interview with a middle-class, conservative (mostly WASP) American*

-yesterday "wrongly" 25 Iraqi civilians were killed by American soldiers as they thought they looked like "terrorists".
answer: ooppsss.. sorry, but man. they could be terrorists you know

-there's a French film in which a 14 years old girl...
-WHAAAAAAAAATT??? NOOO, IT'S IMMORAL!!!!
-hhmm, let me finish
-NOOOOOOOO. IT'S UNACCEPTABLE

----
*coz not all Americans are like this. i must write which of them are.

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