How Rohmer would have laughed. Matt Damon, in his latest Jason Bourne film, only says a total of 288 words, just 45 lines in the entire film. With Damon rumoured to have been paid around $25 million that works out at around $86,000 per word. The disappearing of dialogue can be partly blamed on our increasingly dumbed-down short attention spans. However the cost of translating and dubbing a large amount of clever dialogue is a relevant factor with international audiences being increasingly prized. China is now the second-largest movie market in the world and is predicted to surpass the United States by the year 2020.
If fewer and fewer words are spoken in Hollywood blockbusters, some of the new made-for-television series are a welcome compensation. For me, however, the films of Eric Rohmer, criticized as static, verbose and boring, still are the best reminder of what is possible. The late Andrew Sarris noted that “there’s nothing more cinematic than the spectacle of a man and a woman staying up all night talking”. For Rohmer and those who loved his work, there is action galore in his movies but it is the action of what was said colliding with what one did. Kent Jones wrote that "over the years Rohmer has received a great deal of attention as a creator of films structured around talk. He has also been noted as a lover of beautiful young people, as a teller of tales and as some kind of moralist.”
Rohmer’s films leave the viewer with something to think about for a long time afterwards. I doubt if the same can be said of the movies of the Bourne franchise.