Rohmer's Pastry Case

Some movies are so visually striking that they set up shop in your brain—sometimes without your even knowing it; images might loiter in random synaptic connections for years, decades even before you realize you've been keeping them. The other day I stumbled across the still below from one of Eric Rohmer's Six Moral Tales: La Boulangerie de Monceau (1963). Studying this image, I felt it was utterly familiar, felt I knew it exactly: the plain glass tiers, the metal racks, the tower of urchin-shaped cookies, the single sablĂ© fan... Seeing the image on my computer screen brought back not the film itself (that remains a bit hazy), but all the particulars of the context in which I'd watched it. 

I  saw Six Moral Tales on video, with my husband (only he wasn't yet my husband), in my twenties. I was depressed at the time, and watching movies with J. was one of only two things I enjoyed doing. The other was taking breaks from my extremely boring job at a university library and buying enormous, nearly black, chocolate-espresso cookies (discs, really, almost frisbees) in Harvard Square. The main event of my work day was eating one of these cookies as slowly as possible on my 15 minute break. Often, that took 40 minutes. At this time, J. and I were housesitting for J's parents, who were traveling abroad for several months, and our general routine, on movie nights (which, now that I think of it, was every night), was to sit on the couch, huddled under an orange, tan, and brown afghan, eating bowls of Burnt Caramel ice cream. This was ages ago, but all of these things—the beige, stain-resistant couch, the autumnally colored afghan, the bitter-sweet ice cream—floated over me or through me when I saw this still. Such a simple composition—plain yet mysterious, like all of Rohmer's work: just a woman's hand, young, reaching into a bakery's spare window display of a few modest but fascinatingly European-looking baked goods (those criss-crossed galettes... those stubby, spiky loaves...). "That's a beautiful image," said my husband who was not yet then my husband when this image came across the screen in my in-laws' living room, on the TV near the ancient jade plant. I remember that, too. 

Below, two more pastry-related images from La Boulangerie de Monceau:

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