A small-time thief steals a car and impulsively murders a motorcycle policeman. Wanted by the authorities, he reunites with a hip American journalism student and attempts to persuade her to run away with him to Italy.
In a huge, old-fashioned luxury hotel a stranger tries to persuade a married woman to run away with him, but it seems she hardly remembers the affair they may have had (or not?) last year at Marienbad.Written by
Otto Oberhauser <Oberhauser@cc.univie.ac.at>
Italian visa # 35942 delivered on 31-10-1961. See more »
Exterior night scenes were shot day-for-night, but the sky and reflections of it were allowed in the frame, and they appear as bright white instead of black. This may have been intentional to emphasize the surreality of the film. See more »
I must have you alive. Alive, as you have already been every evening, for weeks, for months.
I have never stayed so long anywhere.
Yes, I know. I don't care. For days and days. Why don't you still want to remember anything?
You're raving! I'm tired, leave me alone!
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Darker and more sinister than is generally reckoned
It would take a braver person than me to delineate what LAST YEAR AT MARIENBAD is `about', but as it is such an entirely thought provoking film, perhaps some sort of `meaning' can come from sharing these thoughts about it. Many people define it as cerebral and classical, but to me it is romantic and gothic. What is remarkable about the setting and the characters is that they are all so wealthy that they can rise above the concerns of ordinary mortals, only to find that this advantaged life brings other problems - of identity, purpose and values. They are strangely existentialist - the existentialism of great wealth - their small talk is intelligent, informed and stilted; they are all beautiful in the sense that money can partly buy beauty, and yet, in the process, they have lost human warmth, real sexual desire, and any purpose in life other than to drift on in their station in life. But desire is a respecter of nobody, and it is this element of human nature that haunts the corridors of the hotel like an invisible mist, and subconsciously their acutely civilised life-style which has bereaved them of something they no longer acknowledge or recognise and have deeply repressed - only to find it lingers on the fringes, confusing and disturbing them - spoiling everything; a depressive dissatisfaction. There is no joy, no enjoyment. The gardens become symbols of this desire to enslave, conquer and exile nature - formal, rigid and planned, and yet within the hotel, all around are decorative symbols of the chaotic and random aspects of nature. Everything appears to carry a symbol that needs to be interpreted - if it is there, it must have meaning, and if the Man says that they had arranged to elope together when they were at Marienbad, (or was it Marienbad, or elsewhere, and what does it matter?), how can the Woman be sure that this is not a ruse, made up to give immediate warning that we exile our emotions at our peril? That to acknowledge this for one second risks opening floodgates which will overwhelm and destroy? Or, that the ultimate expression of desire is death itself, as the film's closing line hints when the Man's voice speaks, over the night time silhouette of the hotel, of, `You.. and me.. together.. always.. in the night'. And it is an eternal night that we all subconsciously know lays in wait for us. The Great Leveller indeed! A remarkable film by any standards, and one which for me at least, is much darker and more sinister than has generally been recognised. But maybe it is just a springboard from which we can all set off on a journey guided by our own subconscious longings and dreads?
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