- Directors: Alain Resnais
- Region: All Regions
- Average Customer Review: 44 customer reviews
- ASIN: B005WRCRHU
Last Year At Marienbad: Subtitled/French
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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
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The narrative’s only certainty, is, there are three characters: A (Delphine Seyrig), X (Giorgio Albertazzi) our narrator, and M (Sacha Pitoëff). What happens after that is unfathomable. At a lush mansion, X is trying to convince A they’ve met before, a year ago in Marienbad, and had an affair. A either doesn’t remember, doesn’t want to remember, or it never happened... Or it isn’t happening now.
This film felt like reading Virginia Woolf, I don’t understand a lot of it, yet I’ve exercised my mind. Is it entertaining? That’s a difficult question to answer, but probably no. Is it enjoyable? Yes!
The craft of filmmaking is at the highest level. Set design as lush as any court of a French King; costumes designed by Bernard Evein are slick, elegant and chic, as would be expected in a French film; Sacha Vierny’s cinematography is as crisp as spring; and all actors show the greatest non-reacting acting. It’s the innovative script by Alain Robbe-Grillet that makes this film high cinema: story and plot are deliberately fragmented, giving the overall narrative a deliciously confusing tone.
To compare it would be like trying to find something that rhymes with orange. But watching it reminded me of other films later on that, although I can’t be certain, might have been influenced: Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining (1980), and Eyes Wide Shut (1999).
I admired and adored Last Year at Marienbad. If you want something different to flex your brain power, then give this a try.
But this edition of the film is appalling, because of the subtitles, which detract from the action for three reasons:
-They are too big, and at times actually hide the action as when they completely obscure the table on which a game is being played.
-They are sometimes inaccurate or incomplete.
-But last and worse, unlike the subtitles on most civilised DVDs, THESE CANNOT BE TURNED OFF !
Had this been made clear in the description of the DVD I would certainly have refrained from buying this item, and avoided the film-long frustration caused by the ******* subtitles.
Fox Lorber - Subtitles can be switched off. Region 0.
Optimum Home Entertainment - Subtitles NOT removable. Region 2
Criterion - Subtitles can be switched off. Region 1
Blu-Ray Criterion - Subtitles can be removed. Region A.
Blu-Ray Studio Canal - Subtitles can be switched off. (Multiple languages available) Region A+B (plays in UK).
There used to be a version with subtitles under the image area, and many years ago I did tape this on SVHS from a TV showing, but unfotunately have since recorded over the tape.
between their ears than the all important ability to order a pizza. :Like any great work pf art it can be viewed countless times and still appreciated. to see it the first couple of times is a real challenge to keep up with it At the time of its initial release, it gave the audience the belief that their was still hope for humanity. Since then of course it has proven that there is no hope. there is no chance whatsoever that film making could ever approach the brilliance displayed in this modest production. Anyone arrogant enough to criticize it should be sentenced to a constant diet of modern films - for that is all they deserve. Fortunately, most people won't come across it even accidentally since it requires the constant reading of subtitles. Personally, my only regret is that I do not know the French language well enough to do without them. In my
humble opinion their is no language more beautiful than French.
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