478 Last Year at Marienbad

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phantomforce
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Re: 478 Last Year at Marienbad

#176 Post by phantomforce » Thu Sep 14, 2017 12:13 am

It's been a few years since I've seen this but, Beautiful is not the lasting impression I got from this movie - though it is very pretty to look at. If I remember correctly, doesn't the 'hero' of this movie basically stalk his victim until she realizes he is her rapist and they both discover suppressed traumatic memories ?

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Re: 478 Last Year at Marienbad

#177 Post by matrixschmatrix » Thu Sep 14, 2017 12:26 am

I would say that my viewing of it is that it is very much about a central act of rape and a sense of dissociation and dislocation- of place, time, and identity- that emanates from it, and from being forced to just accept it and remain in proximity to the rapist. I think it's an incredible movie in that regard, one that makes one genuinely feel the subjective experience of trauma, much more effective and infinitely more proof against eroticising that kind of horror than something like Irreversible. I was surprised that the criticism of the time, positive and negative, almost never views it as a movie about sexual violence, usually just claiming that it's entirely abstract, which seems like an evasion; it's not as though the idea of the guy who made Hiroshima mon amour making a movie like that is much of a reach.

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Re: 478 Last Year at Marienbad

#178 Post by phantomforce » Thu Sep 14, 2017 12:36 am

matrixschmatrix wrote:I would say that my viewing of it is that it is very much about a central act of rape and a sense of dissociation and dislocation- of place, time, and identity- that emanates from it, and from being forced to just accept it and remain in proximity to the rapist. I think it's an incredible movie in that regard, one that makes one genuinely feel the subjective experience of trauma, much more effective and infinitely more proof against eroticising that kind of horror than something like Irreversible. I was surprised that the criticism of the time, positive and negative, almost never views it as a movie about sexual violence, usually just claiming that it's entirely abstract, which seems like an evasion; it's not as though the idea of the guy who made Hiroshima mon amour making a movie like that is much of a reach.
Excellent, and well said, exactly how I felt about the film and one of the reasons I remember it being a masterful work of art. Of course it took many viewings and critical essays to go through to the point of exhaustion. Looking forward to seeing it again soon.

Slightly off topic, but, I recently saw Marjorie Prime and there is a scene that looks like it takes place at the LYAM - A film as art exhibit.

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Re: 478 Last Year at Marienbad

#179 Post by Roger Ryan » Thu Sep 14, 2017 12:16 pm

Ovader wrote:No idea if this was discussed elsewhere and couldn't find any search results. On my Criterion blu-ray of MARIENBAD at precisely the 16:14 minute mark "M" (Sacha Pitoëff) disappears as the camera dollies past his shoulder as illustrated by his full silhouette disappearing against the painting. I didn't see a jump cut unless the editing was so precise but this is something I never noticed before in previous viewings.

EDIT: I do see a slight jump in the editing so excuse my excitement over what may have been a new discovery of the M character.
As you've probably surmised, this isn't a mastering flaw but inherent in the film. In order for "M" to mysteriously appear in both rooms the camera is tracking through, two separate takes were required: the first time the camera tracked along the dolly track, "M" was positioned in the first room; for a separate take of the camera repeating the movement, "M" was positioned in the second room. The two takes were edited together in a hard cut which can be detected by the sudden disappearance of "M"'s shadow. Today, the effect could be achieved seamlessly with a little digital work. Still, the effect is impressive as is, especially since the camera was tracking without computer-aided motion control.

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Re: 478 Last Year at Marienbad

#180 Post by oh yeah » Sun Sep 17, 2017 5:29 am

matrixschmatrix wrote:I would say that my viewing of it is that it is very much about a central act of rape and a sense of dissociation and dislocation- of place, time, and identity- that emanates from it, and from being forced to just accept it and remain in proximity to the rapist. I think it's an incredible movie in that regard, one that makes one genuinely feel the subjective experience of trauma, much more effective and infinitely more proof against eroticising that kind of horror than something like Irreversible. I was surprised that the criticism of the time, positive and negative, almost never views it as a movie about sexual violence, usually just claiming that it's entirely abstract, which seems like an evasion; it's not as though the idea of the guy who made Hiroshima mon amour making a movie like that is much of a reach.
Thank you for articulating so well that which I think I've always known deep down, but somehow rarely thought of so clearly as a way of viewing the film. Seen this way it really gains even more power and goes far past the empty series of pretty pictures it's typically derided as.

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Last Year at Marienbad (Alain Resnais, 1961)

#181 Post by Mr Sausage » Mon Feb 12, 2018 6:32 am

DISCUSSION ENDS MONDAY, FEBRUARY 26th.

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Re: Last Year at Marienbad (Alain Resnais, 1961)

#182 Post by Binky » Mon Feb 12, 2018 5:21 pm

I saw this for the first time without any expectations and left it assuming I'd just seen a ghost story. I read afterward the intentions of the authors and found myself largely disagreeing with them! Or at least, I think the Resnais half of the collaboration is being deliberately vague about what he had in mind. After watching it again - for Halloween - I can now see how nicely open the movie is to interpretation.

But nonetheless, for me it is still a ghost story. It is about the participants in a double murder suicide, living out the events of their tragedy in an eternal loop. The man is convinced each time they've met before because they have met before! The woman suspects this too, but is apprehensive because she has a slightly clearer memory of where this is all heading. Neither of them will ever have more than these slivers of recollection, so there is no way out for them. This interpretation didn't seem to me an interpretation when I first watched it. I just assumed this is what was going on!

Mostly its how the story looks and sounds that set my mind to things ghostly. The organ alone does it! You play that organ score over Race for Your Life Charlie Brown and it becomes gothic horror.

(I'm editing this to add -- I have only just started posting here, and while I've read the rules I am not certain yet of the fine details of Film Club etiquette. Please delete this entire post if its a bad or incorrect start! I won't be offended!)

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Re: Last Year at Marienbad (Alain Resnais, 1961)

#183 Post by matrixschmatrix » Mon Feb 12, 2018 6:38 pm

Nope, your post is fine and appreciated!

I think I see what you're saying about the sense that the movie is a ghost story- certainly, there's a central dislocation of time and of place at the heart of it, and something unspeakable animating it- there's something ghostly there, in the way there's something ghostly at the heart of The Shining. For me, though, the movie is inescapably about an act of sexual violence, and the sense of dissociation that follows- she is unable to escape the man who did this to her, and the movie is him attempting to control the narrative, with hints of the truth peeking out from under the suffocating fog he is creating about it. The central scene, in this reading, is the one in the bedroom- he insists, very unconvincingly, that there was no force, and in so doing tells us the opposite. Reality is stolen out from under us, and the calmness of the people and the opulence of the surroundings just make everything more horrific- because there is this central thing which is going unacknowledged.

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Re: Last Year at Marienbad (Alain Resnais, 1961)

#184 Post by Binky » Mon Feb 12, 2018 7:35 pm

Matrixschmatrix, I never considered that, although his stalker behaviour did absolutely creep me out. I dismissed it, though, because I assumed he was a confused ghost. I have read since one of the authors, perhaps both, say it was a story of "persuasion" which I read to mean he was making up the story of them meeting before as a pick-up line. But what you are saying is that this persuasion was him trying to persuade her that he had not raped her the year before but that their coupling was consensual? The more I think of this, the more correct it seems! If I remember correctly around the scene you're talking about, we do see her appearing threatened, only finally at the end reaching out to embrace him. Would you say this is the moment he has finally convinced her of a distorted reality?

I think your analysis is completely right. There are just so few good old ghost movies I guess I'm creating them out of whatever material presents itself. Marienbad is infinitely re-watchable so I will keep what you have said in mind next Halloween when I watch it again with a big bowl of Halloween candy and a jug of Blackberry Ghoul-Aid.

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Re: Last Year at Marienbad (Alain Resnais, 1961)

#185 Post by knives » Mon Feb 12, 2018 8:16 pm

I suppose it is still a ghost movie in the sense that these are haunted and haunting characters. It is sort of like how Spielberg calls Whatever Happened to Baby Jane a ghost film.

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Last Year at Marienbad (Alain Resnais, 1961)

#186 Post by Mr Sausage » Mon Feb 12, 2018 8:50 pm

I've long thought there is no single reading or solution to this movie, but several, all of which are meant to be held in the mind simultaneously (as in Todorov's theory of the fantastic). The fun of the movie for me is not figuring out precisely what's meant, but appreciating how carefully it sustains its ambiguities.

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Re: Last Year at Marienbad (Alain Resnais, 1961)

#187 Post by matrixschmatrix » Mon Feb 12, 2018 10:36 pm

Binky, I think calling it an act of persuasion is itself somewhat ironic, as of course part of what he is (in my reading) trying to 'persuade' her of is that he has only ever been using persuasion and not coercion- but perhaps that's either an intended irony on the author's part, or a place where there's a significant difference lost in translation (though the latter speculation seems unlikely, as 'persuade' is a word with a french root, and appears per etymonline always to have meant essentially 'sweet talking'.)

I agree with knives in that I think the ghost reading coincides with mine nicely, though, in the same way it's useful to talk of Hiroshima, mon amour or even Night and Fog as ghost ridden- in those cases, there's no supernatural presence, but they are haunted movies nevertheless (the former being about two haunted people attempting to build a life when they feel as though they should have died, the latter being about millions of ghosts whom we must not allow to disperse, as the weight of what has happened cannot be lifted without the possibility of it happening again.) In Marienbad, the horrible event both is and isn't in the past, as it's something she's being forced to live, over and over, but I think that exists within the space of ghost stories too.

(Also, Binky, were you an avclub commenter? I think I recognize the avatar.)

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Re: Last Year at Marienbad (Alain Resnais, 1961)

#188 Post by Binky » Mon Feb 12, 2018 11:56 pm

Now that I'm thinking of Marienbad in terms of one person persuading another of something that isn't true, it connects with something I've believed about Hiroshima mon Amour. I've only seen that movie once, but it did seem to me at the time that the actress was making up her story as she went. That in fact she sat out the war relatively comfortably in France, but she now needed to create a tragedy for herself to fit in with her oppressive surroundings and perhaps convince her new lover that they are bound by misery.

(Matrixschmatrix, I do comment at AVC! Not very much since they stopped posting new articles at night, though. Do you post at AV Club?)

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Re: Last Year at Marienbad (Alain Resnais, 1961)

#189 Post by matrixschmatrix » Tue Feb 13, 2018 12:21 am

Huh, that's an interesting thought. I would say that, explicitly, the woman who was described in the story is dead- she died for love, and the person Riva is playing is what was left of her when that part of her died, trying to build a new self. So she is, perforce, very distant from the story she's telling- she has to be. For me, Resnais has a consistent ability with these stories about time and pain and memory and how they cloud together, and Hiroshima is almost the opposite of Marienbad- a constructive moving on from an unbearable past, rather than a destructive state of being trapped in it.

(I used to comment there, as matrixschmatrix or Tom S, but it started to fall apart with the Dissolve exile, and it hasn't felt like a particularly rich community in a while)

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Re: Last Year at Marienbad (Alain Resnais, 1961)

#190 Post by Binky » Tue Feb 13, 2018 3:48 am

I've read of Resnais not having an identifiable style. Do you think this is true? Hiroshima through to Je t'aime Je t'aime seem to me easily identifiable as by the same hand. Beyond those I've only seen Love unto Death and Life is a Bed of Roses from decades later. Those, at least to my untrained eye, have no stylistic connection to his five first great features. Plotwise, Bed of Roses has a lot in common with Je t'aime Je t'aime, but nothing else about it would suggest to me it was made by the same person who made Last Year at Marienbad.

(I'm glad to learn that parentheses mean whispering here, too. I do agree with you the new AV Club does seem at times like wandering the hotel in Last Year at Marienbad. "...empty salons, corridors, empty chairs, empty glasses...")

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Re: Last Year at Marienbad (Alain Resnais, 1961)

#191 Post by All the Best People » Tue Feb 13, 2018 4:37 am

To me the most appealing aspect of the film's structure is that it is the only film I can think of that so fully represents how the mind works in terms of conjuring memories and planning future acts. We replay actual and possible events in our mind, over and over, situating them in different contexts and with different strategies and results, all potentialities existing in parallel within our thoughts. This film conveys this in a singular and strikingly beautiful and authentically haunting manner. This is something of the project of the nouvelle roman, and of the first decade or so of Resnais' feature career.

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Re: Last Year at Marienbad (Alain Resnais, 1961)

#192 Post by djproject » Tue Feb 13, 2018 8:26 am

After reading many different interpretations and analyses of it, I see it personally as a grand experiment of cinematic form. There are various stylistic nods: the baroque (and the Baroque) setting of the hotel, the elegance of the wardrobe (even the casual looks quite posh), the graceful camera movement. There are moments that wouldn't be out of place with a melodrama. But in its overall construction, there is a persistent playfulness of sound and image where you are aware constantly of how "artificial" since it is constantly disjointed, both spatially and temporally.

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Re: Last Year at Marienbad (Alain Resnais, 1961)

#193 Post by Roger Ryan » Tue Feb 13, 2018 9:44 am

djproject wrote:...But in its overall construction, there is a persistent playfulness of sound and image where you are aware constantly of how "artificial" since it is constantly disjointed, both spatially and temporally.
And this is where you will find similarities to Resnais' last decade of work with its emphasis on treating the stage plays he was adapting as filmed plays that only subtly (and surrealistically) break away from the confines of the stage. The stage performance the hotel guests in Marienbad are watching could, indeed, be a Resnais film from fifty years into the future.

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Re: Last Year at Marienbad (Alain Resnais, 1961)

#194 Post by knives » Tue Feb 13, 2018 10:21 am

Binky wrote:I've read of Resnais not having an identifiable style. Do you think this is true? Hiroshima through to Je t'aime Je t'aime seem to me easily identifiable as by the same hand. Beyond those I've only seen Love unto Death and Life is a Bed of Roses from decades later. Those, at least to my untrained eye, have no stylistic connection to his five first great features. Plotwise, Bed of Roses has a lot in common with Je t'aime Je t'aime, but nothing else about it would suggest to me it was made by the same person who made Last Year at Marienbad.

(I'm glad to learn that parentheses mean whispering here, too. I do agree with you the new AV Club does seem at times like wandering the hotel in Last Year at Marienbad. "...empty salons, corridors, empty chairs, empty glasses...")
It strikes me in this case that he had more of an evolving thematic identity rather than visual as he moved away from montage techniques as he got older. This is especially true for the films made after his forced sabbatical. Thematically though all the way to the end he had a pretty clear line from the historical with his documentaries and first feature, to memories, and finally into theater with the fracturing of reality being the glue tying all of this together. There's something of a Lubtischian comedy of misunderstanding to his films even as they tend to be dramatic (though his last few were out and out comedies).

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Re: Last Year at Marienbad (Alain Resnais, 1961)

#195 Post by HitchcockLang » Tue Feb 13, 2018 10:41 am

Mr Sausage wrote:I've long thought there is no single reading or solution to this movie, but several, all of which are meant to be held in the mind simultaneously (as in Todorov's theory of the fantastic). The fun of the movie for me is not figuring out precisely what's meant, but appreciating how carefully it sustains its ambiguities.
I agree with this completely. It's much like Henry James' The Turn of the Screw (and by extension The Innocents) in that multiple non-mutually exclusive readings are not only supported but encouraged. I find Marienbad to be much like the game its characters play numerous times on screen.

Like the game is presented to the player's opponents (or victims) with a false context of being a fair and winnable game, the film is presented to its audience (at least the first time) as a traditional film. The game can frustrate and so can the film, but true peace comes not from winning the game or "solving" the film but reveling in the trick of its unsolvability.


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Re: Last Year at Marienbad (Alain Resnais, 1961)

#197 Post by swo17 » Tue Feb 13, 2018 11:11 am

I started some discussion (good grief, nine years ago) in the thread proper about the mechanics of the game and how it symbolizes X and A's relationship. Starting here and going on through most of that page.

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Re: Last Year at Marienbad (Alain Resnais, 1961)

#198 Post by djproject » Wed Feb 14, 2018 7:04 am

swo17 wrote:I started some discussion (good grief, nine years ago) in the thread proper about the mechanics of the game and how it symbolizes X and A's relationship. Starting here and going on through most of that page.
Oh yeah =]

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