Eric Rohmer’s Die Marquise von O . . . , or Marriage Under Ambiguous Circumstances

James Phillips


Kleist’s “Die Marquise von O . . .”, as the story of a woman who learns to love her rapist, is baldly offensive. This has been insufficiently remarked in the literature, which has led to misappreciations of Rohmer’s film. By its omissions, accretions and displacements Rohmer’s adaptation opens up the hermeneutic setting in which the pregnant Marquise finds herself. Is it the Count or Leopardo who takes advantage of her once she slips into unconsciousness? The ambiguity wins for the film’s central couple a little freedom from tropes of the patriarchal domestication of women and introduces to the narrative the interpretative perplexity characteristic of Kleist’s other fictions. Rohmer also shifts the Count’s anecdote of the swan to the final scene where in the context of the reconciliation between the Count and the Marquise it —and with it the film as a whole—takes on the function of a parable of forgiveness. (JP)

This article requires a subscription to view the full text. If you have a subscription you may use the login form below to view the article. Access to this article can also be purchased.

Purchase access

You may purchase access to this article. This will require you to create an account if you don't already have one.