One of the masters has passed away at the age of 91. Alain Resnais was a French filmmaker whose body of work included such masterpieces as Night and Fog, Hiroshima Mon Amour, Last Year at Marienbad and My American Uncle.
Alain Resnais started making films in the 1940’s and he was still making movies up until his death. His last film Life of Riley was just released this year. Resnais began his film career by making short films and docs. His first breakthrough came in 1955 with his short documentary Night and Fog. The film alternates between the then present day remains of notorious Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz and archival footage of the horrors of the camp. The film won several awards and fellow filmmaker François Truffaut stated that it was the greatest film ever made.
Resnais made his first full-length feature film in 1959 with Hiroshima Mon Amour. The movie follows a Japanese man and French woman who are breaking up but it’s more than just a relationship breaking up. The film also deals with the bombing of Hiroshima as well as Resnais’ favourite topic, memory. It’s excellent and while Resnais has made a ton of films over the years, some of the highlights being Far from Vietnam, My American Uncle, Same Old Song and You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet my favourite film from Resnais is Last Year at Marienbad.
Last Year at Marienbad is about a man and woman meeting again maybe for the first time, maybe for the second time. The film deals with time and memory and plays with both. The narrative is kind of hard to follow. The story moves from past to present seamlessly. A friend of mine accidentally watched the DVD with random chapter search on and didn’t even notice. To say the film is ambiguous is an understatement. Critics have been divided about the film since it’s release and it’s one of those rare films that is included on some people’s best films ever made lists and on some people’s worst movies ever made lists. It’s definitely not for everyone but for those movie-goers who are tired of the same thing might enjoy this film.