At once a mystery, a surrealist exploration of the nature of truth, and one of the most mindblowingly confounding films made, Last Year At Marienbad (1961, dir. Alain Resnais) tells the ambiguous story of a man and woman who may or may not have met before.
It sounds like such a simple premise – two people who might not have met, one who’s insistent and the other who might be more resistant or defensive about it. But this core story occurs within many outer layers of philosophy and aesthetics, and an overlapping presentation of events that affects your perception of them. The overall effect is difficult to describe. The best way I can describe the story is that it’s presented like a memory, or like a person’s train of thought. You don’t necessarily know where it’s going to go, and some of its information is totally incongruous as it changes and evolves over time. But it’s interesting to see where the film takes you. It’s unlike anything I’ve seen before.
I’ll confess and say that I don’t think anyone can fully understand this film upon first viewing. I’ve seen it twice and paid a good amount of attention both times, and I think there’s way more to learn about it. It sounds like a typical pretentious French 60s film that plays with its viewers’ minds, but it’s also much more than that. Last Year At Marienbad is art come to life. It’s intriguing, challenging, and thought-provoking.
I’ve chosen to highlight a number of my favourite images from the film because I feel the need to share its beauty with others. If you find these images interesting, the film is about ninety per cent more stunning in motion. The camera moves in such a fluid motion, making the whole thing feel like an especially lucid dream. The visuals are simply amazing; the set design and cinematography in particular are genius. My overall suggestion is for cinema lovers to immediately watch this film.
Watch the trailer here.
Images sourced from Google Images and the wonderful Evan E. Richards.