In Alain Resnais's masterwork, L'ANNEE DERNIERE A MARIENBAD, each fantasy laden, heavily dramatised, aesthetically perfected scene is dictated by the memories of a man (Giorgio Albertazzi), who is one of many elegant, aristocratic guests vacationing at the enchanting resort, Marienbad. Because the story consists of foggy memories that may or may not be accurate, the film unrolls like a repetitious dream. In the opening sequences, the man describes the immensity and silence of the lavishly decorated baroque hotel as the camera roams its empty hallways. Soon after, the hotel guests appear, assembled for a theatre production inside the hotel. Like the actors in the play, the characters in the film make it obvious that they are also playing established roles and reciting lines. Sometimes they simply pose as the camera passes over them, while at other times, they stand like statues, trying to remember what happened last year. They amuse themselves with parlour games, ballroom waltzes, target practice in the shooting gallery, and strolls through the garden. Meanwhile, the man establishes the abstract plot about a love affair he began last year with a woman (Delphine Seyrig), reconstructed from his partial memories. She remembers nothing of the affair, not even the man's name. In fact, most of the guests cannot even recall the year in which these things might have happened--was it 1928 or 29
Delphine Seyrig, Giorgio Albertazzi, Sacha Pitoeff
23 May 2005
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