Criterion Collection: Last Year At Marienbad

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Overview

A cinematic puzzle, Alain Resnais' Last Year at Marienbad is a radical exploration of the formal possibilities of film. Beautifully shot in Cinemascope by Sacha Vierny, the movie is a riddle of seduction, a mercurial enigma darting between a present and past which may not even exist, let alone converge. The film stars Giorgio Albertazzi as an unnamed sophisticate attempting to convince a similarly nameless woman Delphine Seyrig that they met and were romantically involved a year ago in the same enormous, baroque ...
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Overview

A cinematic puzzle, Alain Resnais' Last Year at Marienbad is a radical exploration of the formal possibilities of film. Beautifully shot in Cinemascope by Sacha Vierny, the movie is a riddle of seduction, a mercurial enigma darting between a present and past which may not even exist, let alone converge. The film stars Giorgio Albertazzi as an unnamed sophisticate attempting to convince a similarly nameless woman Delphine Seyrig that they met and were romantically involved a year ago in the same enormous, baroque European hotel. In the end, it hardly matters -- they're not characters so much as pawns anyway. Hypnotically dreamlike, Last Year at Marienbad is a surrealist parody of Hollywood melodrama, a high-fashion romance with a dark, alien underbelly. According to screenwriter Alain Robbe-Grillet, the movie is a pure construction, without a frame of reference outside of its own existence -- the lives of its characters begin when the lights go down, and conclude when they come back up.
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Special Features

Audio interview with Resnais; Documentary on the making of DLast Year at Marienbad, featuring interviews with many of Resnais' collaborators; Video interview with film scholar Ginette Vincendeau on the history of the film and its many mysteries; Two short documentaries by Resnais: Toute la mémoire du monde (1956) and Le chant du styrène (1958); Original theatrical trailer and Rialto's rerelease trailer
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Leo Charney
One of the most enigmatic and distinctive movies ever made, this collaboration of director Alain Resnais with leading French novelist and filmmaker Alain Robbe-Grillet has confounded and intrigued audiences since it first led the wave of European art movies in the early 1960s. Wandering through and around the story of a mysterious love triangle as it wanders through and around its hotel setting, the film can be interpreted, among other possibilities, as a parody of Hollywood romantic melodramas; as an effort to find a new way to tell a romantic melodrama, free of the clichés imposed by Hollywood; as a mystery, whose answer is finally unresolved and perhaps unresolvable; as, therefore, a Rashomon-like examination of the uncertainty of truth; as a philosophical inquiry into truth, time, memory, and personal identity; as a purely sensual melange of shapes and sounds -- grand architecture, striking compositions, and strange soundtrack elements; as a self-reflexive examination of cinema itself; or as a game, like the logarithm game at the center of the story, played by the filmmakers with the audience. Whatever interpretation(s) one favors, this is, for better or for worse, an unforgettable and unique movie, a high-water mark of postwar European art cinema.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 6/23/2009
  • UPC: 715515046312
  • Original Release: 1961
  • Rating:

  • Source: Criterion
  • Region Code: A
  • Time: 1:34:00
  • Format: Blu-ray

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Delphine Seyrig A
Giorgio Albertazzi X
Sacha Pitoeff M
Francoise Spira
Pierre Barbaud
Françoise Bertin
Luce Garcia-Ville
Helena Kornel
Jean Lanier
Wilhelm von Deek
Gerard Lorin
Gilles Queant
Technical Credits
Alain Resnais Director
Jasmine Chasney Editor
Henri Colpi Editor
Pierre Courau Producer
Bernard Evein Costumes/Costume Designer
Raymond Froment Producer
André Girard Musical Direction/Supervision
Georges Glon Set Decoration/Design
Alexandre Marcus Makeup
Alain Robbe-Grillet Screenwriter
Jacques Saulnier Production Designer
Francis Seyrig Score Composer
Sacha Vierny Cinematographer
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 14 )
Rating Distribution

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(10)

4 Star

(1)

3 Star

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Sort by: Showing all of 14 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 1, 2010

    Thanks to Criterion for a masterful release of a long out-of-print masterpiece.

    Without getting to nostalgic, I will say that this was one of my early discoveries and later, while a student in college, I was given the unique opportunity to guest lecture my own class on the topic of the lesser known "Left Bank" of the French New Wave movement, its film director Alain Resnais, and this film specifically.

    I will spare you the lecture, but suffice to say, it has had an important impact on me, continues to delight me, and I tend to notice something "new" almost every time I watch it.

    This is puzzling & confusing "almost to the point of incomprehension," as one critic coined the phrase (though that well-known film critic was talking about "The Big Sleep.")

    This film has been out-of-print for several years, and as to be expected from Criterion, the print (which also was my first exposure to Criterion in Blu-Ray format) is immaculate. The old (long OOP) print of Fox Lorber was adequate, but this is stunning. Of course, as to be expected from any Criterion release, the bonus material is fantastic.

    All that said, this is NOT for the casual viewer. Its constant jumps from past to present, and constantly shifting "perspectives" are likely to simply annoy, bore, or disinterest even today's viewers who are more commonly accustomed to unconventional narrative structure, and even those fans of more famous French New Wave of Godard, Truffaut, etc.

    All that said, this is a one-of-a-kind, highly challenging, divisive, and discussion-starting films of all time. It is a one-of-a-kind experience.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 11, 2014

    One of the most beautiful moving images ever committed to cellul

    One of the most beautiful moving images ever committed to celluloid.  A haunting puzzle of a film.

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  • Posted November 6, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    A Haunting Classic

    The only thing I knew about this film was Delphine Seyrig's hairstyle (which turned out to have been improvised at the last minute to cover up a last-minute change she had made to her hairstyle -- Resnais's vision of her character was that she'd have a Louise Brooks bob), which became big in the 60's. I was born in '61, the year it came out, so I can be forgiven for that. Watching the film, I now see why people raved about it. A previous reviewer described the camera techniques (which would influence Kubrick's THE SHINING, Nolan's MEMENTO, and Crowe's VANILLA SKY) much better than I ever could, so this review will concentrate on other aspects of the film.

    Like, for instance, that the haunting music (which probably ended up influencing many thrillers) was composed by Seyrig's brother Francis -- after Resnais's first choice Messiaen turned him down. Or that the film was supposed to have been a collaboration with French modernist author Alain Robbe-Grillet, Resnais's interpretation of the script would result in the allegedly dissatisfied author dissing the film. Or that it was filmed in three different Baroque palaces (none actually IN Marienbad), with the harmony of the architectural style and the filming in black and white allowing Resnais to get away with piecing together scenes from different locations with us none the wiser, as smoothly as Seyrig's bob. In fact, some scenes would be very difficult to film because the actors and camera crew would have to work around some extremely priceless interiors without leaving so much as a scratch. I found it amazing that they were able to pull it off.

    The two short films, the first in black and white, the second in color, are:

    "Toute la memoire du monde", from 1956, about the Bibliotheque Nationale (the Paris Library), in which Resnais demonstrates that the same labyrinthian camera style he would use for the corridor scenes in MARIENBAD worked just as well in revealing the back rooms and shelving complex of a building that was being added on to vertically and equipped with what was then considered state-of-the-art technology to preserve not just books, but rare prints and even maps as well.

    "Le chant du styrene", from 1958, filmed in the Pechiney polystyrene factory, features abstract groupings of Pechiney products, all in the colors that were popular at the time (some of which are reappearing today, thanks to the retro trend inspired by MAD MEN).

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    Posted July 22, 2009

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    Posted June 24, 2009

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    Posted July 12, 2011

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    Posted July 29, 2010

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    Posted July 16, 2009

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    Posted July 23, 2009

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