Thursday, April 25, 2013

Memory Lapse: Last Year at Marienbad

It has been discovered by scientists that our memory isn't like a hard drive with videos, but rather that we re-create our memories every time we think of them.  Our presuppositions and prejudices, our ideals and desires get in the way of us remembering things correctly.  So when a man tells a story about what happened last year, the woman he was with (or not with) might have a very different version of that story, not just from perspective, but because the memory might actually differ.  The only way we know is if it were mechanically filmed.

Unless the director was Alaine Robbe-Grillet, who directed Last Year at Marienbad.

If there was a film I would call pretentious, this might get the closest.  Many awkward stances, actors being told to freeze, choppy editing, awful organ music.  I can see why the haters want to hate this film.

But I don't think so (I don't really believe in using the term "pretentious" in criticism anyway).  The filmmakers were trying to accomplish something new, and use a new style, but that doesn't equal pretension.  The question isn't what their motivation was in making the film, but whether they succeeded at making a good one.

And I am torn.  The "story" is, at best, difficult to grasp, and there are many questions left unresolved (like whether any of the memories have truth to them at all.)  The acting is, at best, unrealistic-- which is probably done purposefully.  I guess I would just have to say that I am not used to this style, and don't know that I will.  But I am glad for the opportunity to watch this famous film.  Now I will have to take some time to think about what I really think about the film.

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