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LAST YEAR AT MARIENBAD, 1961
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  MOVIE POSTERLAST YEAR AT MARIENBAD, 1961
Movie Reviews

Director: Alain Resnais

Stars: Delphine Seyrig, Giorgio Albertazzi and Sacha Pitoëff

Review by Russell Hill

SYNOPSIS:

A man declares that he and another woman have met before but she denies his existence. However, he determines to prove that they are acquaintances.

REVIEW:

I first came across this film when I was studying at University. I will always be eternally thankful to my lecturers because they introduced me to many great films which I wouldn't have ever seen. Although not every foreign film is a classic, Last Year at Marienbad is the exact opposite because I was riveted throughout as well as being baffled at what was going on.

There is a great debate amongst film critics about what the hell this film is about. Last Year at Marienbad certainly messes with your mind and, towards its conclusion, you question what you've just seen. Anyway, here's how I interpreted the plot – a man and a woman meet each other at a party in a hotel or chateaux. Their names are never given but the man is played by Giorgio Albertazzi and the woman's role is played by Delphine Seyrig. The film tracks their relationship and determines whether they have met before – the combination of dream sequences and voiceovers makes this movie seem as though that you have in fact entered REM. Towards the end of the movie, it is your own interpretation which enables you to know whether you have watched reality or the inside of someone's head.

If you view Last Year at Marienbad without paying close attention, there are many things which you won't notice. There are moments which are akin to Michel Gondry i.e. shadows not appearing behind objects which are in sunlight. The film was actually a collaboration between director Alain Resnais and screenwriter Robbe-Grillet. One of them would shoot some scenes whereas the other was responsible for other scenes. Although some critics have found major differences in their individual scenes, I cannot but it's always fun trying to figure out whether one scene is the same as the next.

Apart from the kooky storyline and strange characters, Last Year at Marienbad is set in a location which reminds you of the aristocracy. The film was actually shot in Munich and not in Marienbad which is in the Czech Republic. Last Year at Marienbad almost has a cubist definition at times – sharp angles are counterbalanced against the harshness of the world around it. It's definitely not a film which is suitable for 3D because if the characters jumped out of the screen, it wouldn't seem right.

When the film was released, it won many awards yet was criticised by those who didn't understand it. The counterculture boom was only a couple of years away. One can't stop thinking that if Last Year at Marienbad was released just a couple of years later at the time of the Woodstock or Monterey festival, a whole new type of criticism would have appeared. This is because the films which had a quirky or trippy edge to them were appreciated more by those who were hopped up on drugs because their mind was more open.

Whether you enjoy Last Year at Marienbad or not is down to what you define as being the true meaning of cinema. If you prefer to watch only Hollywood films, you might not like Last Year at Marienbad. However, if you like to watch films which have a completely different style than the trash which Hollywood regularly produces, check out Last Year at Marienbad.

ACTORAlain Resnais
Best of the ARTIST
ACTORDelphine Seyrig
Best of the ARTIST
ACTORGiorgio Albertazzi
Best of the ARTIST
ACTORSacha Pitoëff
Best of the ARTIST

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LAST YEAR AT MARIENBAD, 1961