Alain Resnais, 1922-2014
June 6, 2014 6:51 AM   Subscribe

Alain Resnais, the French filmmaker who helped introduce literary modernism to the movies and became an international art-house star with nonlinear narrative films like “Hiroshima Mon Amour” and “Last Year at Marienbad,” died on [March 1] in Paris. He was 91. NYTimes Obit posted by chavenet (28 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 7:10 AM on June 6, 2014

Mon Oncle d’Amérique is one of my favorite films - I haven't seen it in decades, I will have to look it up now.
posted by maggiemaggie at 7:11 AM on June 6, 2014

Everyone should see Last Year at Marienbad. The NYtimes review of it from 1961 opens with:

Be prepared for an experience such as you've never had from watching a film when you sit down to look at Alain Resnais' "Last Year at Marienbad," a truly extraordinary French film, which opened at the Carnegie Hall Cinema last night.

It may grip you with a strange enchantment, it may twist your wits into a snarl, it may leave your mind and senses toddling vaguely in the regions in between. But this we can reasonably promise: when you stagger away from it, you will feel you have delighted in (or suffered) a unique and intense experience.

The best thing about the film is that you can have others tell you all about it and they can't possibly spoil it for you. I love the film but I would still have trouble telling you what it is about.
posted by vacapinta at 7:13 AM on June 6, 2014 [3 favorites]

Watching Last Year at Marienbad made me feel like I was being snakecharmed.

I love it so.
posted by Lemmy Caution at 7:51 AM on June 6, 2014

I feel like a bad film geek that I've never seen any of his movies. Must remedy that soon.
posted by octothorpe at 7:51 AM on June 6, 2014

I feel like a bad film geek that I've never seen any of his movies.

You're in for a treat. Actually, for a lot of treats. Even minor Resnais is often wonderful: La Vie Est Un Roman is an often underappreciated gem. And I'll never understand why Je t'aime, Je t'aime isn't universally hailed as a classic of 60s head-trip Sci-Fi (I don't think it's even available on DVD).
posted by yoink at 7:58 AM on June 6, 2014

Marienbad is just the best.

posted by marienbad at 7:59 AM on June 6, 2014 [3 favorites]

Marienbad is amazing. And his Holocaust doc, Night & Fog, is unlike anything I've ever seen.

posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 8:11 AM on June 6, 2014 [2 favorites]

I will never forget seeing Nuit et Brouillard, an important early attempt to grapple with the Holocaust through documentary film and an essential companion piece to Hiroshima, mon amour.

posted by kewb at 8:12 AM on June 6, 2014

posted by fraula at 8:34 AM on June 6, 2014

I was just talking with a friend 2 days ago about how I've been meaning to watch more of his work.

I've only seen Hiroshima Mon Amor and Night and Fog. And Invention of Morel, the book Last Year at Marienbad is based on (at least partially), is one of my favorites. For some reason I've always put off seeing the movie. I'll remedy that tonight.

posted by AtoBtoA at 8:48 AM on June 6, 2014

And Invention of Morel, the book Last Year at Marienbad is based on (at least partially), is one of my favorites.

The relation to Morel is pretty murky, and would give a logical explanation to the film, where I think the intention was to not have one.
posted by Dr Dracator at 8:50 AM on June 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

Last Year at Marienbad introduced me to the writings of Alain Robbe-Grillet, who was the screenwriter. Tremendous writer, tremendous director. Will be missed.
posted by whyareyouatriangle at 8:51 AM on June 6, 2014

posted by Iridic at 8:53 AM on June 6, 2014

The relation to Morel is pretty murky

I figured it was a very loose adaptation that probably owes just as much, if not more, of its style to Robbe-Grillet, the screenwriter/novelist who directed plenty of his own films (which I've also been meaning to see).
posted by AtoBtoA at 8:56 AM on June 6, 2014

We had to get signed permission slips to watch Nuit et Brouillard in AP World History, and I thought, "that is ridiculous, permission slips?"

It was not ridiculous.

posted by like_a_friend at 9:26 AM on June 6, 2014 [2 favorites]

I thought Nuit et Brouillard was brilliant. I watched it again recently, and it grows even more powerful with time.

But I rolled my eyes through Guernica, forgot almost everything about Hiroshima within a week after seeing it, and only made it through ten minutes of Marienbad.

Maybe I should give him another chance.
posted by kanewai at 9:36 AM on June 6, 2014

posted by cazoo at 10:35 AM on June 6, 2014

Hiroshima, yes. Night and Fog, yes yes.

What is wrong w/me that I couldn't sit through Marienbad? maybe because i didn't see it in a theatre? guess I'll try again.

posted by allthinky at 10:41 AM on June 6, 2014

Just thought I'd share a brief essay I wrote for Film International in 2009 when Masters of Cinema released the DVD of MURIEL. An edited excerpt from the first paragraphs.

What is an abstract film? On the one hand, film is our medium par excellence of concreteness, the world’s sensuous collagist, yet abstraction is the pure state when these pesky details have been sanded away. Dear reader, Alain Resnais asks you to slip loose of your noosing dualities! His three most famous films—his first full-length features Hiroshima Mon Amour, LastYear at Marienbad, and Muriel, ou le Temps d'un retour—suggest that the specificity of film permits abstraction. The thingness of films, the blood and faces of the actors, can incarnate ideas with a bodily,particularlizing reality that would be impossible in, say, a lyric poem. Each of Resnais’s films is essentially about a man and a woman who ask each other what time is. In a conventional film, time is duration—the bildungsroman of the world, where one thing happening after another. In fact, most of our contemporary “difficult” films are about duration; I am thinking here of Tsai Ming Liang, Jia Zhangke, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Abbas Kiarostami, and even the Dardennes Brothers, directors whose films are arguably concerned with the banalization of ordinary time, a spatialization of story, and a flat, neorealist understanding of the image, which may be elided (as in Close-Up or, for that matter, many Taiwanese New Wave films) but never stops representing a real object. Resnais has a different view on time. Wild, personal, mutable, time in Resnais is not held down by the hands of its objective master, the clock. Time is invented by the characters, who remember both too aggressively and too fallibly, desperately trying to recover—or at least imagine—their own histories.

posted by johnasdf at 11:06 AM on June 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

posted by jonp72 at 11:59 AM on June 6, 2014

The obits missed the following fact about Resnais: he loved popular culture and was a big comic book fan, particularly of Marvel Comics. He actually worked with Stan Lee on two projects (not comic-related) and he was approached to direct a Spider-Man movie by Marvel in the 1980s according to this site, though Resnais said that the talks took place in the late 1960s, when "superheroes wore pyjamas".
Unfortunately, Alain Resnais' The Amazing Spider-Man (starring Henry Winkler) did not happen. Resnais later worked with comic book authors, particularly with Enki Bilal on Mon oncle d'Amérique (poster) and La vie est un roman (poster and matte paintings). If Resnais never made his comic book movie, his Dennis Potter's inspired musical Same old song was a box office hit in France, so he did succeed to make a pop culture movie.
posted by elgilito at 2:51 PM on June 6, 2014 [3 favorites]

Hiroshima, yes. Night and Fog, yes yes.


let's not forget the wonderful Providence, a meditation on time and memory featuring Gielgud and Bogarde.
posted by Substrata at 3:08 PM on June 6, 2014

posted by Smart Dalek at 5:43 PM on June 6, 2014

. . .
. . . . .
. . . . . . .
posted by Obscure Reference at 9:20 PM on June 6, 2014 [2 favorites]

Oh, I love that droning organ & languorous chandeliers dolly camera in the crazy intro to Marienbad, which I later learned was shot at Nymphenberg Palace near Munich.

It has been virtually one full year since the Bibliothèque post.
posted by ovvl at 3:51 PM on June 7, 2014

posted by On the Corner at 11:42 PM on June 8, 2014

posted by tessmartin at 1:38 PM on June 12, 2014

« Older “Rangers, Lead The Way!”   |   Vin Scully Retrospective Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments