Happy Birthday to director Alain Resnais, who was born on June 3rd, 1922. Resnais has dedicated his life to making films with artistic vision and, during the 1950s and 1960s, he tackled challenging lessons for humanity by addressing the Holocaust and the Vietnam War. Resnais created many narrative and documentary shorts since the late 1930s, and made his feature debut with Hiroshima Mon Amour in 1959. Associated with the output of the French New Wave of the early 1960s, his films are perhaps more akin to the artistic style of Andrei Tarkovsky (Solaris, The Mirror), addressing themes of time and memory with formal, lush photography. Spy Vibers will appreciate his movies for their visual style, and for the large role he played in the cultural climate of the cold war era.
He is perhaps best known for the poetic imagery in his masterpiece, Last Year at Marienbad (1961). It is a quintessential art house film, famously slow in pace, that leaves indelible snapshots of exquisite design in one's imagination. The garden scene (below) is the film's most iconic image, and is itself a work of modern art-in-motion. The film won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival in 1961. Synopsis from Criterion:
"Not just a defining work of the French New Wave but one of the great, lasting mysteries of modern art, Alain Resnais’ epochal Last Year at Marienbad (L’année dernière à Marienbad) has been puzzling appreciative viewers for decades. Written by radical master of the New Novel Alain Robbe-Grillet, this surreal fever dream, or nightmare, gorgeously fuses the past with the present in telling its ambiguous tale of a man and a woman (Giorgio Albertazzi and Delphine Seyrig) who may or may not have met a year ago, perhaps at the very same cathedral-like, mirror-filled château they now find themselves wandering. Unforgettable in both its confounding details (gilded ceilings, diabolical parlor games, a loaded gun) and haunting scope, Resnais’ investigation into the nature of memory is disturbing, romantic, and maybe even a ghost story." Essay about the film at Criterion here.
Resnais continues to make movies, including a recent feature with Audrey Tautou (Amelie), called Not on the Lips (2003). His new product is current in post-production. More about Resnais at the Museum of the Moving Image here. Movie posters available at Movie Goods here.