cacb3995's Movie Review of Last Year at Marienbad ( année dernière à Marienbad, L' )

Rating of

Last Year at Marienbad ( année dernière à Marienbad, L' )

The Epitome of Modernist Cinema
cacb3995 - wrote on 07/19/18

Famous for being einigmatic and dream-like, a movie were categories like time and space seem to be as superflous and unreliable as memory itself, Resnais’ has been considered the quintessential example of modernist cinema. The film takes place in a baroque hotel during a high society event. The guests are all socialites and take part in games of cards, shooting as sport and small plays. In the midst of all these bourgeoise activities a mysterious man approaches a woman – whose husband is busy winning at a card game each time – and he tells her how both of them had met a year before. The woman of course has no recollection of this. The man proceeds to tell his story multiple times, each time with some sort of variation that completely changes the event dramatically, and by the end one can never be sure of what actually happened.

I love this movie for several reasons. As a piece of what french philosopher Gilles Deleuze “modernist filmmaking” would call, the film is a prime example to what cinema can achieve if its liberated from the constrains of the classical storytelling model imposed by the american studio system since the 1930s. It isn’t compelled to follow the rules of causality or continuity and doesn’t let itself be limited by superficial logic of time and space. Instead, the film goes out of its way to demonstrate that our conceptions of such areas are intrinsically flawed and open to manipulation. Our over-reliance on memory also gets called out, as the narrative of the events that transpired a year before the start of the film changes depending on the mood of the characters or even in which part of the hotel they find themselves. This manipulation of the narrative also speaks to the nature of film itself, with more than a few moments of metalepsis sprinkled throughout, reflecting the recurrent self-awareness of modernist cinema.

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