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4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5 stars
Last Year In Marienbad [DVD] [1960]
Format: DVD|Change
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on 30 September 2016
If you like patting yourself on the back for being a cineaste, then Alain Resnais’s Last Year at Marienbad (1961) is for you.

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.
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on 20 April 2013
Amazon has amalgamated reviews for five different versions. Some have removable subtitles, others not. Here's the situation, for those interested. Listed in order of issue.

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).
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on 26 July 2017
Man staying at posh hotel tries to persuade female guest that they met the previous year and had an affair, but she's having none of it. You know what they say - If at first you don't succeed, try again. Then give it up, no use being a damn fool about it. But he carries on long after anyone else would have realized this one wasn't going to end up in the win column. Ok for the first half hour, but then you've got another hour of exactly the same to contend with. No action at all, just lots and lots of pointless chatter. I'm sure this film was considered to be amazingly odd and interesting in 1960.
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on 9 June 2016
Well I thought I was able to appreciate artistic films.
However it transpires that I'm a Philistine.
I found this extremely vexing and patience testing.
Lots of navel gazing, redundant dialogue and repetition.
Oh well..... back to watching trash I suppose.... much preferred Delphine in "Daughters of Darkness"
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on 4 February 2016
Picture and audio excellent, dazzling contrast, includes lots of supplements, but again like The Obscure Object of Desire blu-ray the packaging is slim and flimsy, but as the Criterion's blu-ray was out of print at the time I opted for this edition. Besides packaging, a very good release. Recommend.
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on 19 May 2015
Rather disappointing movie. More interesting for cinematographic history than for enjoyment. The mysterious story and the beautiful setting (actually not in Marienbad but in Bavaria) will have been convincing 50 years ago, but now the slow pace and the unbalanced sound make it outdated.
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on 6 October 2009
One of the most enigmatic movies of all times. It follows a man and woman in a strange circle of lies, deception and betrayal in an ever recurring sequence of acquaintances and dialogs. A picturesque riddle filmed in a splendid neverland composed of two Munich castles. Fascinating to see, but impossible to decipher.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 8 February 2014
In a splendidly baroque hotel and its grounds, a man tries to convince a woman that they have met before, while another man who might be her husband looks on.

This film attracted controversy when it was eventually released in 1961. The distributors were underwhelmed when they saw it, and it took some canny lobbying of leading intellectuals, and winning the Lion D'Or at Venice, to eventually convince them to release it. On release it proved hugely controversial, and even in the eighties I recall it being a touchstone for pretentious Frenchness. Many of the unusual features, such as characters continuing a seamless conversation across different scenes, the mannered acting and startling cinematography, are now staples of film dream sequences and music videos.

Peter Greenaway clearly liked the cinematography so much he used Sacha Vierny on many of his own films, The Shining is rather improbably claimed to be a remake.

Viewed now it is still watchable, albeit slow and cryptic. It is certainly one of the most beautiful films ever made, even if is it intensely exasperating. By the end, it clearly has its own internal logic, even if it defies explanation.

This DVD includes a generous set of extras, a short introduction, a documentary, the original trailer and an earlier documentary by Resnais, about the French national library, demonstrating the same prowling camera and portentous narrative.

If you are partial to this very french blend of playful intellectualism, then you might also enjoy Taxandria (uncut), or the earlier films of Cocteau.
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on 6 June 2010
I remember first seeing this in the sixties and being enthralled by its hypnotic beauty. It is not an easy film to watch, but is well worth the effort. Do not expect a simple story told in order; this is told as if in a dream. A handsome man and beautiful woman meet at a mysterious chateau and he recounts how they met the previous year: she recalls none of the details. Time appears to be frozen as the two meet and re-meet at Marienbad and the man recounts more of the details of last year. Is he lying? What really happened last year at Marienbad?

An avant-garde director teams up with an avant-garde novelist in this most memorable of movies. It is good to see such a fine copy of the original on this disk.

The script is also available as L'Annee Derniere a Marienbad. It is well worth studying in conjunction with the film.
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on 18 June 2017
Wonderfully bizarre film about the nature of reality. Great camera action.
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