Monday, January 6, 2014

Last Year at Marienbad

I rewatched one of my very favorite movies this past weekend.

The movie was Last Year at Marienbad.

Here is the trailer:

Why is it one of my favorites?

1. It is French

2. It is gorgeous

3. It is FULL of Black Whimsy!

The basic plot (as I'm sure you gleaned from the trailer) is that there is an unnamed guy who is trying to convince an unnamed girl that they met the previous year, fell in love, and planned to meet in one year's time to run away together.  She claims to not remember any of it.  AND YOU DON'T KNOW WHO IS TELLING THE TRUTH!  You never find out.  Is he a stranger trying to seduce her?  Is he telling the truth and she changed her mind and doesn't have the guts to tell him? Is it something much darker?  Are they ghosts? Is she supressing something awful that happened? Oftentimes the images shown on the screen are completely at odds with the narration.  It completely ignores all the rules of storytelling.  It is totally confusing and utterly brilliant.  A dreamlike maze in more ways than one.

The movie is just SO full of STYLE.  The hotel is gorgeous, yes, but the blackness comes in with the fact that it is largely empty and filmed in such a way that it seems decidedly creepy (that crazy organ music!  chills!)  The people that populate the hotel seem more like ghosts than true people (one of my favorite intepretations of this film is that the whole thing is set in some sort of weird purgatory.  I've not heard of anyone other than me who thinks that theory makes sense, though, so make of that what you will).

Books have been written trying to interpret this classic of French New Wave cinema, and I'm certainly not going to add anything worthwhile to the conversation.  See it if you can, though.  It will mess with your brain, and you probably won't like it, but, still, I absolutely adore the film and it's chocked full of Black Whimsy.

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