At Alliance Française on Fridays at 8 pm
In November the Alliance Française turns to the work of Alain Resnais.
At Alliance Française on Friday, November 6: Hiroshima mon amour / Hiroshima, My Love (1959) by Alain Resnais – 91 mins – France/ Japan, Drama/ Romance/ War. English subtitles. B&W. Reviews: Universal acclaim: 84 out of 100.
With Emmanuele Riva, Eiji Okada, Bernard Fresson.
For one day and one night, a French woman and a Japanese man love each other with a burning intensity. And her discovery of Hiroshima, the horror of atomic warfare, brings back to her the memories of a love affair in France with a young German soldier…
– Alliance description
Rotten Tomatoes: In Alain Resnais' artistic adaptation of Marguerite Duras' Hiroshima mon amour, a French actress working in Japan meets a Japanese architect with whom she has an affair. Their relationship consists largely of conversations about the bombing at Hiroshima, the horrors that he and his family endured, and her perception of it back home in occupied France. With a camera that operates sometimes like a slide show, other times like a space vessel--switching easily in and out of flashbacks and gently blending footage of both Japan and France--the story unfolds more like a collection of memories than a chronological narrative. Perhaps the most dramatic scene is the unforgettable opener: An impeccably beautiful close-up in black and white depicts lovers writhing first in the ash of bomb fallout, which is washed away by rain, then, as their skin dries, they begin to perspire from making love. She--the nameless female lead (Emmanuele Riva)--remembers everything of the war. But He--the nameless male lead (Eiji Okada)--challenges her to determine if what she remembers is real or just a projection. As with most Marguerite Duras novels, it's hard to determine exactly what happened and what didn't. Hiroshima mon amour is truly like a poem, using the emotional words of Duras to propel Resnais' ultra powerful images.
San Franciso 2005 International Asian American Film Festival: This unique specimen of the French New Wave delivers a profound and romantic meditation on how humans incorporate—by accepting with their bodies and minds—the destruction of war. In this 60th year since the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it still has the power to demand that we combat the oblivion of forgetting.
At Alliance Française on Friday, November 13: L'année dernière à Marienbad / Last Year at Marienbad (1961) by Alain Resnais & Alain Robbe-Grillet – 94 mins – France/ Italy, Drama/ Romance. English subtitles. B&W. Reviews: Universal acclaim: 88 out of 100.
With Delphine Seyrig, Giorgio Albertazzi, Sacha Pitoëff, Françoise Bertin.
In a baroque, fairytale château, a man turns up to keep an appointment promised to a woman the year before. Yet, although the woman is there, she doesn’t remember. The man sets out to win her back through a labyrinth of gold and marble where time seems to stand still...
– Alliance description
Rotten Tomatoes: Elegantly enigmatic and dreamlike, this work of essential cinema features exquisite cinematography and an exploration of narrative still revisited by filmmakers today.
In Alain Resnais's masterwork, L'année dernière à Marienbad, each fantasy-laden, heavily dramatized, aesthetically perfect scene is dictated by the memories of a man (Giorgio Albertazzi), who is one of many elegant, aristocratic guests vacationing at the enchanting resort, Marienbad. Because the story consists of foggy memories that may or may not be accurate, the film unrolls like a repetitious dream. In the opening sequences, the man describes the immensity and silence of the lavishly decorated baroque hotel as the camera roams its empty hallways. Soon after, the hotel guests appear, assembled for a theater production inside the hotel. Like the actors in the play, the characters in the film make it obvious that they are also playing established roles and reciting lines. Sometimes they simply pose as the camera passes over them, while at other times, they stand like statues, trying to remember what happened last year. They amuse themselves with parlor games, ballroom waltzes, target practice in the shooting gallery, and strolls through the garden. Meanwhile, the man establishes the abstract plot about a love affair he began last year with a woman (Delphine Seyrig), reconstructed from his partial memories. She remembers nothing of the affair, not even the man's name. In fact, most of the guests cannot even recall the year in which these things might have happened--was it 1928 or 29? Each of Resnais' sets is more remarkable than the one before, as are the costumes by Chanel. Emphatic organ music drums up a fury of suspense as the actors' performances become increasingly overdramatized and unnatural, mocking the meaningless aristocratic resort activity they're depicting, while also epitomizing it. The climax comes in a famous sequence--which repeats itself about 10 times in a row--in which the camera races down the corridor into the embrace of the woman, who is clad in a birdlike white feather gown. Like a Marguerite Duras poem trapped inside an M.C. Escher drawing, Resnais' L'année dernière à Marienbad is a film that stands alone, unique in its dialogue, architecture, style, and its deeply effective, sweeping mood.
At Alliance Française on Friday, November 20: Muriel ou Le temps d'un retour (1962) by Alain Resnais – 115 mins – France/ Italy, Drama. English subtitles. Generally favorable reviews: 84 out of 100.
With Delphine Seyrig, Jean-PierreKérien,Nita Klein.
AlainResnais' third film, like his earlier ones: «Hiroshima Mon Amour» and «Last Year at Marienbad», is devoted to the vagaries of memory. Bernard, a veteran of the French/Algerian war, was forced to torture and murder Muriel, an Algerian girl accused of sabotage. He is no more successful at recapturing or altering his past than his stepmother Helene is at reviving a romance with Alphonse...
– Alliance description
Rotten Tomatoes: In the haunting drama Muriel, French filmmaker Alain Resnais continues his exploration of and fascination with memory and the impact of past events on people's present lives. Helene is a lonely widow who lives with her stepson, Bernard, in Boulogne. Into their lives walk Alphonse, a lover from her past, and Francoise, who he claims is his niece but is actually his mistress. While Helene and Alphonse are obsessed with their past relationship, Bernard is troubled by his memory of a girl whose brutal death he witnessed while he was fighting in the Algerian War. As in his prior films, Resnais tells the story in a dream-like, stylized fashion.