Last Year at Marienbad

L'année dernière à Marienbad aka Last Year at Marienbad (Alain Resnais, 1961)

This post is a part of the Seven Days of the French New Wave going on this Blog. But since Resnais wasn't a "member" of the "vague" I have to categorize him as an outsider that often been mistaken as a French New Waver because he was French and the fact that his films were more written oriented. With Last Year at Marienbad, Alain Resnais made one of the greatest masterpieces of Cinema. See Mediafilm's list of masterpieces.

The plot is a little hard to follow since the story is divided in time, sometimes we are in the present other times in the past and sometimes in the future or what the characters imagine will be their future. This facet of the structure of the story reminded me of the surrealist writing of The Discret Charm of the Bourgeoisie or even the deconstruction of memory of Malick's The Tree of Life. Resnais' adaptation is audacious because even with today's standards this is a fresh film and it is way more thoughful than Nolan's Inception that plays with memory and time without the Sci-fi effects and the spectacular imagery.

The atmosphere of Last Year at Marienbad probably influenced Kubrick on his The Shining, with the reclusion of the characters in this castle turned into a luxurious Hotel where the characters are walking like ghosts with deadpan faces and looking like they are disconnected with time and space. The memory and the presence of the characters is like if they always were a part of the Hotel and they are trapped in a continuum of time.

The beauty of the cinematography juxtaposed with the eerie and omnipresent music gives a mysterious yet thrilling vibe to the film. It makes me want to see more films of Alain Resnais since I deeply loved his Night and Fog while been disgusted by the atrocities it displayed and I've bored by his Hiroshima mon amour. Of Resnais great career, he still makes movies today, many films a yet to be reviewed here. Last year at Marienbad might be a difficult film to get into but since you past the uncommon structure of the story it is a masterpiece every film buff should at least watch one time in his/her life.


  1. I too am a fan of French cinema and the last film I seen was "La fille sur le pont." Intriguing film. I haven't seen this film but it does seems interesting. You have a beautiful selection of films here and I am excited to have found your site!

  2. I haven't seen this one yet either. Expect a review sometime in the next few months.

  3. @Aidy, Thanx and welcome aboard! I haven't seen La fille sur le pont so I'll have to get back to you when I do.

    @BT, I'm looking forward to read your review!

  4. I love this movie! It's bold, surrealist filmmaking done right.

    I recently watched La Guerre est Finie. It was the fourth Resnais film that I've seen and I liked it quite a lot. I also need to watch more Resnais.

  5. As I discover Resnais I tend to like more and more his films. Hiroshima was his first I ever saw and it bored me completely while Night and Fog is superb!
    I too do want to watch more Resnais!


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