Every film from Roger Ebert's "Great Movies" essays.
Last Year at Marienbad
Takes place in a chateau, an ambiguous story of a man and a woman who may or may not have met last year at Marienbad.
Self-indulgent cinema at its most beautiful. I wanted to love this because duh, but I hated it because also duh. It goes nowhere, it fails to create any kind of atmosphere, and the "nightmare" it portrayed was a pretty tame nightmare. I once had a nightmare where my penis turned into a snake and ate my butt. Make a movie about that.
Deconstructing cinema much in the way Bresson wanted to do but in more grand fashion. It is akin to the Dadaist art movement of anti-art, breaking the rules and destroying the notion of what we perceive as true art. Perhaps not fully to that extent but Resnais clearly experiments with the medium of cinema in a way majorly unaccepted and ironically it becomes the focal point of where the film's greatness lies.
Last Year at Marienbad begins with repetitive and poetic narration ominously filling the air of the long empty corridors and parlors it softly speaks of. In the first few opening scenes alone it is apparent Resnais is ready to deliver something entirely unique to the world of cinema.…
Warning: There might be spoilers ahead.
My first venture into Alain Resnais' filmography couldn’t possibly have left a better impression. As great as straight forward structures can be, it's films like Last Year at Marienbad that give cinema such a unique identity and the ability to tell a story in a way that no other medium can. I like ambiguous films, but it’s the experimental nature on top that really makes this a special piece of work. I don’t really know how to review a movie that often completely ignores typical movie conventions, instead I’m going to talk about observations I made regarding the content, style and what impression they left me with.
Last Year at Marienbad is a film…
'El año pasado en Marienbad' es la película enigma definitiva. Todo el conocimiento que se desprende del relato es parcial, semioculto tras capas y capas de no se sabe bien qué. Inasible más allá de la sensación; imposible de definirse entre el sueño, la pura fantasía, el delirio, el metacine. Él (el hombre, X) no puede dejar de narrar y narrar(se), pero su relato topa con la falta de memoria, de referencias, incluso con la pura incomprensión, de ella (la mujer, A). Como si la película tuviera una lógica onírica que no puede verbalizarse, como un sueño que tiene todo el sentido en el mundo onírico pero que lo pierde cuando se intenta poner en palabras.
Puro ‘fantastique’, la película…
Whether being sleep-deprived had anything to do with it I'm not entirely sure, but something tells me I should've enjoyed Resnais' surreal, dreamlike Last Year at Marienbad a lot more than I did. It's without a doubt meticulously crafted and chock-full of innovation, a film with incredible visuals and a unique narrative that is guaranteed to leave you baffled. It's easy to see why it has garnered such a devoted following and I wish I could count myself in on it, but something felt missing in this otherwise excellent mind-bender. Maybe it's down to it being so emotionally distant and cold, but it never really clicked with me. It's one of those horrible moments in cinema of admiring the craft…
''Yes, I know. I don't care. For days and days. Why don't you still want to remember anything?''
So here's the thing...
I just cannot fathom why I did not enjoy watching this film -
- I fell head over heels for Hiroshima, Mon Amour.
- I am a sucker for enigmatic plotting and challenging narrative.
- The film is pretty damn easy on the eyes cinematographically.
- The atmospheric pipe organ score was tastefully applied.
- I drank coffee and was wide awake.
So what went wrong?
- The film was so repetitive both visually and in its narration, that I found it quite tedious.
- The emotional palette was so dry and flat, that I really could not…
One of the most visually stunning films I have seen. Some of the most mysteriously intriguing characters on film. The movie is a maze, one that awes at every turn. It is slow, it is repetitive, it is poetry in motion (to use a cliche) and totally engrossing. One of the greatest opening scenes that I have ever seen in a film. Some amazing dialog and even better monologue. It is a film that you experience more than watch. Truly a masterpiece.
(Edit: This review sounds rather hyperbolic, but having watched this several times since it was originally written, I still feel that crushing enthusiasm. One of my top-5 all-time films.)
Have I seen this movie? Maybe I have. In New York? Or maybe it was Omaha? And it was summer. No it wasn't summer. It was cold. Let's check the weather records. No, I've never seen this. Well, if I think i saw it then I saw it. Ahhhh, memory is so unreliable...
Respect on principle, and contextually significant, back when people were just waiting for the next historical epic. It also begot my favorite review headline from Hoberman: House of 1,000 Corpses, which basically is a summary of my cold response to this furiously meticulous academic exercise. As Hoberman says, "A sustained mood. An allegory for nothing." Resnais has a prodigious understanding of cinema, cutting between match shots that blur the line between past and present, but like I'm not interested.
A gorgeous labyrinth. And, like a maze, there's no mystery where it's going, but it's still fairly easy to get lost. The floating camera embalms the mesmerizing beauty of a resort with all the activity of a graveyard. Seldom, if ever, have bodies at rest evoked so much tension. Then, as the story of a remembered affair comes to light, the editing becomes more experimental, the hotel itself a maze of repressed memories. This movie is in cheeky conversation with no less than Citizen Kane and The Seventh Seal, while simultaneously thrusting cinema forward toward The Shining and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Puzzle; romance; dirge.
This may not have been the wisest choice for a first time watch at 11pm. There is so much going on here. This is a haunting tale of love (or is it?) that comes across as part horror, part Exterminating Angel. Funny, frustrating and beguiling. I look forward to rewatching with refreshed eyes.
Alain Resnais' L'Année Dernière à Marienbad is a stylish and elegant cinematic labyrinth full of longing and passion.
Resnais' camerawork is exquisite, with stunning shots of the hotel in all its magnitude and mystery, the camera, ghost-like, moving along the corridors and hallways in an otherworldly manner. The result of which is a hypnotic, dreamlike atmosphere that pulls the viewer in, even if they are not following the labyrinthine structure of the story. Resnais' excercise in style is a bold and unique one, that is sure to be the inspiration for many budding young filmmakers for years to come. The influences were clear for Shane Carruth's Upstream Colour, and I'm sure many, many others.
For a hypnotic, stylish, erotic journey, L'Année Dernière à Marienbad comes very highly regarded.
Echt wel heel artistiek. Ik denk dat als ik hem drie jaar geleden in Cinema Zuid gezien zou hebben, ik er absoluut zot van geweest zou zijn. Het vraagt om pellicule-gekraak.
Visueel enorm knap. En echt wel heel artistiek.
It's definitely hard to 'love' Marienbad, not least because it seems to defy cognizance at every turn. But there's so much invention and novelty (perhaps the wrong word, but maybe not) within this confounding little thing that I can't help but admire it.
I'm not sure what happened, but I'm pretty sure it was bad.
"This story is over. In a few moments, it will freeze into a marble past."
With effortless beauty Resnais captures the enigma of memory and the havoc our emotions wreak on it. Why is it that we can remember so vividly the littlest details of a moment so far in our past, when it is so hard for us to recall why it was so important?
Ultimately Marienbad was too cold for me to feel truly moved by it, but there are so many things lurking beneath the surface of its cast of mysterious faces hemmed in by beautifully rigid architecture that won't keep me from coming back to it soon. Early Resnais films have some of the most incredible black and white cinematography I've ever seen.
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