Last Year at Marienbad | Chicago Reader

Last Year at Marienbad

This radical experiment in film form by director Alain Resnais and screenwriter Alain Robbe-Grillet was a surprising commercial success in 1961, even in the U.S., and it's been a rallying point for the possibilities of formal filmmaking ever since. A highly seductive parable about seduction, it's set in and around a baroque European chateau/hotel, where the nameless hero (Giorgio Albertazzi) tries to persuade the nameless heroine (Delphine Seyrig) that they met the previous year. Shot by Sacha Vierny in otherworldly black-and-white 'Scope, it oscillates ambiguously between past, present, and various conditional tenses, mixing memory and fantasy, fear and desire. The overall tone is poker-faced parody of lush Hollywood melodrama, yet the film's dreamlike cadences, frozen tableaux, and distilled surrealist poetry are too eerie, too terrifying even, to be shaken off as camp. For all its notoriety, this masterpiece among masterpieces has never really received its due. In French with subtitles.

Credits

Cast:

  • Delphine Seyrig
  • Giorgio Albertazzi
  • Sacha Pitoeff
  • Francoise Spira
  • Pierre Barbaud
  • Françoise Bertin
  • Luce Garcia-Ville
  • Helena Kornel
  • Jean Lanier
  • Wilhelm von Deek
  • Gerard Lorin
  • Gilles Queant

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