XL Popcorn – Last Year At Marienbad

List Item: Watch all of the “1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die”
Progress: 844/1007Title: L’Année dernière à Marienbad (Last Year At Marienbad)
Director: Alain Resnais
Year: 1961
Country: France/Italy

I am not sure if I’ve seen another film quite like this one. This is one of those things where many have watched it and been unable to make head nor tails from it. That’s what avant-garde gives you I guess. There are some times where I have watched an avant-garde film and been completely bored and perplexed by it -not so with Last Year At Marienbad, which kept me engaged the entire time.

What I enjoyed about this film was that, whilst being dreamy and non-linear and having background characters stop in place for no reason, you had so much to talk about and unravel once ‘Fin’ appears on the screen. Between the two of us, my husband and I ended up with three different narrative explanations of what happened – but of course everything we thought might be wrong, not the filmmakers intention or not matter in the slightest.

Taking place at a very upper class attended hotel, we see an unnamed man and woman interacting. He talks of a past liaison and for her to come with him, she rebuffs his advances and claims no knowledge of who he is. There is a second unnamed man, who may or may not be her husband, who we repeatedly see playing a mathematical game at various points in the timeline – each time using different objects (cards, dominoes, matchsticks or poker chips depending on the time).

All this adds up to many questions of the nature of the woman’s past relationships between these two men. Everything is so confused at times that it can be like watching a world as if through the eyes of someone going through a mental disorder where everything is all mixed up and reality is questionable. The whole thing, to me, felt like the world as seen by the woman – which is what influenced my own take on the narrative that she is being gaslit by a man who previously sexually assaulted her.

Of course, like I said, my interpretation could be far off – but that’s the interesting thing about films like Last Year At Marienbad, there’s always many people out there with different ideas than yours.

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