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LAST YEAR IN MARIENBAD

Director: ALAIN RESNAIS

FRANCE-ITALY • 1961 • SUBTITLED • BLACK AND WHITE • ANAMORPHIC • 35MM • 94 MIN


A member of the ‘Left Bank’ group of filmmakers, Alain Resnais worked closely with writers associated with the nouveau roman. His first feature, Hiroshima mon amour, was written by Marguerite Duras, while Marienbad was scripted by Alain Robbe-Grillet, a modernist dedicated to banishing traditional narrative techniques from fiction. The usual categories of ‘plot’ and ‘character’ don’t reveal a great deal about Marienbad, which is constructed as a puzzle that’s never resolved. The setting is an enormous baroque hotel that’s cut off from reality and peopled by a rich, anonymous group of characters. One of the guests is a politely insistent man (Giorgio Albertazzi) who tries to persuade a mysteriously diffident woman (Delphine Seyrig) that they met last year, fell in love and agreed to wait a year before running off together. As staged by Resnais, who uses a highly formal style that incorporates gliding camera movements and gloomy organ music, the whole film has the qualities of a dream world that’s both highly seductive and vaguely unsettling. Fascinating and perplexing, this is perhaps the artiest of all French art movies.

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