Sunday, 22 February 2015

The 3rd Hall Of Fame Inductee Representing Films Beyond Definition - Last Year In Marienbad (1961) - Alain Resnais

If ever there was a film fitting the bill ‘Beyond Definition,’ this might be the one. Beginning his career as a documentary filmmaker, Alain Resnais made the transition into fictional features in 1959, working with Marguerite Duras on Hiroshima Mon Amour. That film itself is an extraordinary, enigmatic work, but nothing compares to Last Year In Marienbad. Whereas the former was more condensed, the primary focus being the central relationship through which Resnais/Duras explore their themes, Marienbad is a great dive into the wild blue yonder. Written by Alain Robbe-Grillet, it’s oneiric, dream-like qualities are boundless in scope, a net cast so far that the cryptic nature has been deemed by some as incomprehensible. Indeed, the film doesn’t exactly disprove that label; the three main characters are unnamed, referred to in the unpublished screenplay as A (Delphine Seyrig), X (Giorgio Albertazzi) and M (Sacha Pitoeff) respectively, and there are no solid conclusions to be made from a given scene, never mind the film as a whole, so completely cast in ambiguity. But that’s what so brilliant about it! We draw our own conclusions from the interconnected scenes. We bring our own meanings to the table. Even though it’s a beautifully designed, highly atmospheric, austere, aurally hypnotic and immaculately framed picture, it has the same aesthetic qualities of a blank canvas. I think it’s a wondrous and stimulating work; whether or not you think the same way is another matter, but I can guarantee a head-spinning experience. 

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