LAnnée dernière à Marienbad is a 1961 French-Italian film directed by Alain Resnais from a screenplay by Alain Robbe-Grillet. The films dreamlike nature has both fascinated and baffled viewers, many have hailed the work as a masterpiece, while others consider it incomprehensible, at a social gathering at a château or baroque hotel, a man approaches a woman. He claims they met the year before at Marienbad and is convinced that she is waiting there for him, the woman insists they have never met. A second man, who may be the husband, repeatedly asserts his dominance over the first man. Through ambiguous flashbacks and disorienting shifts of time and location, the film explores the relationships among the characters, conversations and events are repeated in several places in the château and grounds, and there are numerous tracking shots of the châteaus corridors, with ambiguous voiceovers. The characters are unnamed in the film, in the screenplay, the woman is referred to as A, the first man is X. Robbe-Grillet wrote a screenplay which was detailed, specifying not only the décor and gestures but also the placement and movement of the camera. Resnais filmed the script with great fidelity, making only limited alterations which seemed necessary, Robbe-Grillet was not present during the filming. Robbe-Grillet then published his screenplay, illustrated by shots from the film, despite the close correspondence between the written and filmed works, numerous differences between them have been identified. In subsequent statements by the two authors of the film, it was acknowledged that they did not entirely share the same vision of it. Filming took place over a period of ten weeks between September and November 1960, additional interior scenes were filmed in the Photosonore-Marignan-Simo studios in Paris. Filming was in black-and-white in Dyaliscope wide-screen, the film continually creates an ambiguity in the spatial and temporal aspects of what it shows, and creates uncertainty in the mind of the spectator about the causal relationships between events. These ambiguities are matched by contradictions in the voiceover commentary. The manner in which the film is edited challenged the classical style of narrative construction. It allowed the themes of time and the mind and the interaction of past, as spatial and temporal continuity is destroyed by its methods of filming and editing, the film offers instead a mental continuity, a continuity of thought. He even asked Eastman Kodak if they could supply an old-fashioned filmstock that would bloom or halo to create the look of a silent film, Resnais showed his costume designer photographs from LInhumaine and LArgent, for which great fashion designers of the 1920s had created the costumes. Most of Seyrigs dresses in the film were designed by Chanel, commenting on this departure, Resnais said, I was making this film at a time when I think, rightly, that one could not make a film, in France, without speaking about the Algerian war. Indeed I wonder whether the closed and stifling atmosphere of LAnnée does not result from those contradictions, contemporary critics responses to the film were polarized
Theatrical film poster
Still from L'année dernière à Marienbad; in this surreal image, the people cast long shadows but the trees do not because the shadows were painted and the scene shot on an overcast day.