Last Year at Marienbad (1961)

Last Year at Marienbad
Directed by Alain Resnais
Written by Alain Robbe-Grillet
1961/France/Italy
Cocinor/Terra Film/etc
Repeat viewing/Netflix rental
One of 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die

X: Empty salons. Corridors. Salons. Doors. Doors. Salons. Empty chairs, deep armchairs, thick carpets. Heavy hangings. Stairs, steps. Steps, one after the other. Glass objects, objects still intact, empty glasses. A glass that falls, three, two, one, zero. Glass partition, letters.

Possibly the most self-consciously arty film ever made.  Can’t beat the images though.

The movie is set at a baroque and sumptuous hotel that appears to be a converted palace or chateau of a bygone era.  The plot is the easy part.  A handsome man tries to convince a married beauty that they had an affair a year ago at the spa of Marienbad.  He would like to renew the relationship.  She denies the affair or ever having been in Marienbad.  None of the characters are ever given names.

There is not so much dialogue as long, poetic soliloquies. Nothing is resolved by the end.

The theme, as in all of Resnais work I have seen to date, is memory.  I think he tackled the subject better in his documentaries, particularly All the Memory in the World (1956).  The viewer is distracted here from the theme or the story by the stunning camerawork.  The shots are all composed within an inch of their lives and lit exquisitely.  The Blu-Ray looks phenomenal.  This was my second viewing.  I doubt whether there will be a third.

Last Year at Marienbad was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Writing, Story and Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen.

Restoration Trailer