Here is one of the many lovely moments in Eric Rohmer's Romance of Astree and Celadon, a movie based on a 17th-century novel that was set in the 15th century. The moment happens in the last sequence of the movie. The light of a new day begins to fill a room near the top of a druid castle. Three women are sleeping on two beds. One bed has two women. One of the women (Stéphanie Crayencour), a beautiful and young shepherdess who broke the heart of an equally young and beautiful shepherd (Andy Gillet), wears a white and almost transparent nightgown. The top of the white nightgown has naturally slipped from the soft ball of her shoulder. One of her breasts is exposed to the growing light of the dawn. She sleeps, she breathes, her chest rises and falls, and the prone nipple waits for something to happen—a caress, a kiss, a breeze?
The moment is more charming than erotic. And what we want out of the word "charming" is its original meaning of "song" or "chant" or "spell." The erotic is always a moist cloud, a mist, a mood of uncertainty. In the room with the three women (one of whom is actually a man—watch the movie to solve that mystery), what's charming is clearly this nipple. It casts a spell on the rays of light, the fresh blankets, the beings in the beds, the walls, the tall windows, and the magical forest that surrounds the castle. The director of this exquisite composition, Rohmer, is 88 years old! It's hard to believe that a man of that age still has access to a realm that is often closed to old folks—the realm of the senses.