Editor's NoteIn Alain Resnais's masterwork, L'ANNÉEE DERNIÈRE À MARIENBAD, each fantasy-laden, heavily dramatized, aesthetically perfect scene is dictated by the memories of a man (Giorgio Albertazzi), who is one of many elegant, aristocratic guests vacationing at the enchanting resort, Marienbad. Because the story consists of foggy memories that may or may not be accurate, the film unrolls like a repetitious dream. In the opening sequences, the man describes the immensity and silence of the lavishly decorated baroque hotel as the camera roams its empty hallways. Soon after, the hotel guests appear, assembled for a theater production inside the hotel. Like the actors in the play, the characters in the film make it obvious that they are also playing established roles and reciting lines. Sometimes they simply pose as the camera passes over them, while at other times, they stand like statues, trying to remember what happened last year. They amuse themselves with parlor games, ballroom waltzes, target practice in the shooting gallery, and strolls through the garden. Meanwhile, the man establishes the abstract plot about a love affair he began last year with a woman (Delphine Seyrig), reconstructed from his partial memories. She remembers nothing of the affair, not even the man's name. In fact, most of the guests cannot even recall the year in which these things might have happened--was it 1928 or 29? Each of Resnais's sets is more remarkable than the one before, as are the costumes by Chanel. Emphatic organ music drums up a fury of suspense as the actors's performances become increasingly overdramatized and unnatural, mocking the meaningless aristocratic resort activity they're depicting, while also epitomizing it. The climax comes in a famous sequence--which repeats itself about 10 times in a row--in which the camera races down the corridor into the embrace of the woman, who is clad in a birdlike white feather gown. Like a Marguerite Duras poem trapped inside an M.C. Escher drawing, Resnais's L'ANNÉEE DERNIÈRE À MARIENBAD is a film that stands alone, unique in its dialogue, architecture, style, and its deeply effective, sweeping mood.
Last Year at Marienbad - Blu-Ray DVD Review
By: Mark Kalriess Blogcritics.org Reviews
Published on: 6/22/2009 3:32 PM
|Last Year at Marienbad is one of Alain Resnais' most well regarded works. The other films he is known for are Night and Fog and Hiroshima Mon Amour. Resnais and this film are considered important parts of the French New Wave movement. However, he and his work are considered part of the “Left Bank” school of the New Wave. There is an obvious difference between this film and the New Wave films of Jean-Luc Goddard and François Truffaut. This film is not obsessed with low-level criminals, America, and American films the way Breathless and Shoot the Piano Player are. The shot selection in this film is more formal, the editing is more slowly paced, and the setting is much more ornate....read the full review|
Cast & Crew
|Henri Colpi - Editor|
|Chanel - Costumes|
|Sacha Pitoeff - Featured|
|Alain Robbe-Grillet - Screenwriter|
|Sacha Vierny - Director of Photography|
|Giorgio Albertazzi - Featured|
|Alain Resnais - Director|
Plot SummaryA formally astonishing and narratively audacious film, one that plays with time and memory, suggesting how little can be known with certainty.| In a baroque and spacious hotel, a man sees a woman and believes that he knows her from the year before -- except, as the film jumps from time to time, events keep repeating and altering slightly, making the entire world unstable and recollection undependable. What is real and what is imagination... and is anything true?