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Last Year in Marienbad (L'Annee derniere a Marienbad) (1961)



Alain Resnais


Delphine Seyrig, Giorgio Albertazzi, Sacha Pitoeff


Romantic Drama, Indie-Arthouse Cinema






French With Subtitles



Running Time:

94 min

Last Year in Marienbad (L'Annee derniere a Marienbad)


In Alain Resnais's masterwork, L'ANNEE DERNIERE A MARIENBAD, each fantasy laden, heavily dramatised, aesthetically perfected 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 theatre 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 parlour 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

member reviews

Directed by Alain Resnais (1961)

27 December 2009
member rating

Before Herzog, before Lynch came this mysterious & surreal offering by visionary French film director, Alain Resnais. The film is set in a spa-hotel in Marienbad, where a collection of elegant guests spend various periods of time away from their daily lives. They include an enigmatic married couple (named M & A) & the wife's lover (X), who meets A there each year & attempts to convince her to go away with him. Because the film itself is the very antithesis of traditional narrative film-making, there is not much more one can add about the plot per se. The actors skilfully convey a marvellous sense of derealisation & depersonalisation that enhances the other-worldly ambience of this unique ouvrage. Each frame of this filmic gem is a miniature work of art. The photography is breathtaking in its exquisite perfection. Beautiful, haunting imagery abounds. Of particular impact is the confronting & overpowering vista of the formal rear gardens of the hotel. Looking more like an abstract black & white drawing by Escher than anything organic created by Nature, one is forced to pause & reflect & perhaps even be challenged. Much in the manner that the artistry of Japanese bonsai challenges one....at first glance, one sees only beauty, but the longer one's gaze is held, the deeper one sees. There are increasingly disturbing layers as one looks deeper & deeper....the battle of man against nature, the endless need of man to conquer, tame & bend to his will, the essential horror of realising that one possesses the faculty to be able to find such perfect beauty in something so mutilated & destroyed. But this is merely a distraction from the film's main subject matter which concerns itself with exploring human consciousness & memory. Resnais, himself, described it as "a crude & primitive attempt to capture the complexity of thought & its mechanisms". He does not do himself justice. This is a truly unique film of 20th century cinema. *****5 out of 5 stars*****

Pretentious Crap
Matthew Gray
27 July 2011
member rating

Oh how I hate movies that refuse to understand the genre. Call me a philistine but no character development or plot variation = dull, dull, dull fare. Awful.




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