Alain Resnais (1922 -2014)
Resnais: one of the masters, one of the great formalists who knew that form is only an extension of content (& vice-versa). Never repeated himself. Every movie (even if you didn’t like it, or if it wasn’t your favorite Resnais) a completely realized work of art & specific to its needs & processes. And the filmography is vast from shorts to documentaries to “fiction.” Check it out here.
Coming to his work in the early sixties, for the young European I was, it felt more accurate, searching, valuable, explorative than 99% of the literature coming out of France in those years — & that doesn’t just apply to the best-known ones, i.e. Hiroshima mon amour (1959) & Last Year at Marienbad (1961) & their connections to the Nouveau Roman. Check out, for example, his collaborations with Chris Marker & Agnès Varda.
In 1960 he was a co-signer of the Manifesto of the 121, which protested against French colonial policy in Algeria. That war, and the difficulty of coming to terms with its horrors, was a central theme of his next film Muriel (1963), whose fractured narrative explored the mental states of its characters & was among the first French films to comment, even indirectly, on the Algerian experience.
Sat down yesterday afternoon & watched Nuit et brouillard (Night and Fog) (1955) (a good part of it), followed by Mon oncle d’Amérique (My American Uncle) (1980). Two totally different, two totally stupendous films.
So sad, yet unhappily so normal & expected, that later last night, not one of the Hollywood luminaries as much as mentioned Resnais’s passing during the Oscar ceremonies.