Sunday, July 19, 2009

French Film To See -Last Year at Marienbad

L'Année dernière à Marienbad (translated as Last Year in Marienbad in the UK and Last Year at Marienbad in North America) is a 1961 French movie directed by Alain Resnais, starring Delphine Seyrig, Giorgio Albertazzi, Sacha Pitoëff. The screenplay is by Alain Robbe-Grillet. It is great example of surrealism in film.

The film is set at an elite social gathering at un chateau. A man approaches a woman and asks "Didn't we meet at Marienbad last year?" The woman is non-committal and demure. "Didn't you say you would leave votre mari and we would run away together?" he asks. Again, she says "No," but they continue to talk as if they perhaps had indeed made plans. When un deuxième homme, who may be A's husband, approaches, la conversation ends somewhat awkwardly and the characters move on.

As the film progresses, the relationship of the characters and the sequence of events are not made clear. Instead images and events such as the conversation above are repeated several times, but in different places in the chateau and its grounds. Several sequences involve les hommes at the chateau passing the time with various games (such as Nim and target shooting). There are numerous tracking shots of the chateau's corridors, with ambiguous voiceovers.

The film is famous for its enigmatic narrative structure, in which la vérité and fiction are difficult to distinguish, and the exact temporal and spatial relationship of the events is open to question. The dream-like nature of the film has fascinated and baffled audiences and critics, some hailing it as a masterpiece, others finding it to be incomprehensible.

I personally found it had a creepiness to it, largely in part from the eerie background organ music (reminded me of "Carnival Of Souls"). Many scenes had a salvador dali feel to it.

un chateau (uhn shah toh) -a castle

votre mari (voh truh mah ree) -your husband

la conversation (lah kahn vehr say shee yohn) -the conversation

un deuxième homme (uhn duh zee ehm ohm) -a second man

les hommes (layz ohm) -the men

la vérité (lah vay ree tay) -the truth

Last Year at Marienbad (1961) re-release trailer with subtitles

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