Captivating and mesmerizing, a stunning achievement
I suppose an argument on whether or not "Eden and After" is a load of pretentious twaddle or a film with real substance could go on forever, but whether or not there is more than the typical late 60's/early 70's drugged-out pseudo-intellectualism here is irrelevant. I don't think Robbe-Grillet's intention is to make a 'Grand Statement' of any sort, "Eden and After" seems interested mostly in asking questions and provoking a response from the audience, as well as in its aesthetic sensibilities.
"Eden and After" has been described as a highbrow soft-core flick, not only in another IMDb comment but elsewhere as well, and it's a fair enough label- many of the images here, particularly in the last forty minutes of the film are certainly erotic, or at least obviously were to Robbe-Grillet. Robbe-Grillet has achieved genuine sensuality with his imagery. It's not porn, there's none of the visceral satisfaction of that sort of thing, it's actually evocative enough to earn the 'erotica' label, although the film certainly has ambition beyond that.
Indeed, dismissing this as a skin flick is a bit moronic; there's so much more here. It's a dark, captivating, occasionally nightmarish, and very interesting film. The sound mixing here is absolutely superb, much like it was in the only other Robbe-Grillet film I've seen so far, "Trans-Europ-Express", and the cinematography stunning, especially after the film shifts focus to Tunisia in its final act. This was Robbe-Grillet's first color film and the opportunity is not wasted- everything from the minutest detail of the design to the cast's wardrobe is a carefully-orchestrated visual extravaganza of bold colors, often used very well in the film to emphasize a point.
"Eden and After" is something special, and whether or not you like it you have to admit that it's a unique experience and that much of the imagery is jarring and very effective. For me it was one of the most intense and involving viewing experiences of my life and is already one of my favorite films, having viewed it twice in a row, something I have rarely ever done before. I can understand disliking this one, but you have to give it credit at least as an aesthetic achievement.
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