Last Year At Marienbad

1151. LAST YEAR AT MARIENBAD (1961-France-ltaly). With DELPH1NESEYRIG, GIORGIO ALBER- TAZZI, SACHA PITOEFF. Directed by ALAIN RESNAIS. Alain Resnais is one Of the most important and influential Of all French New Wave filmmakers, last Year at Marienbad, his second feature-length film, is arguably his most elusive work. It’s a thoughtful, extremely provocative and demanding study Of truth and illusion, time and memory, that stretches the viewer’s own perceptions Of what may be realÑand Of the potentials Of cinema. The setting is an enormous baroque palace, a playground for the idle rich that is crammed with geometric paths, statues in frozen motion. A woman, called simply A, is confronted by X, a stranger, who insists that they had met the year before in Friedrichsbad -or, maybe, it was Marienbad. A has no memory Of this, but X explains that they’d had an affair, and that it was her idea to rendezvous at this time and place. He adds that she had also promised to consider running away with him. All the people and activities around them seem to fade into the background; as X presses on with his story, A’s mind slowly becomes filled with images that become real to her-or, at least, appear to do so. Clearly, X is not faking his story; he and A even change clothes, and move from one location and point in time to another as he stresses that his story is no fabrication. Will A, who had come to the palace with a man who is either her husband or lover, do as X says? Will the allegations Of reality that have been presented to her by X eventually take their place in her mind as truth? Resnais brilliantly layers flashback inside flashback, and the result is a surreal, stylized union Of past, present and future, and a reconciliation Of events with memories. He breaks from accepted ideas about narrative time, and narrative cinema, to produce a film that deservedly copped the top prize at the Venice Film Festival. Additionally, ALAIN ROBBE-GRlLLET’s story arid screenplay earned an Academy Award nominationÑa rarity for foreign language film. In French with English subtitles. 92 minutes. New Wave