Adrian Graham

Last year at Marienbad film still, man and woman on balcony overlooking impressive formal garden

Last Year at Marienbad

Last Year at Marienbad opens with a point of view camera sequence revealing a sumptuous Baroque hotel interior, filmed in high contrast black and white. Eerie, warbling organ music plays, and the monotone voice of the narrator speaking:

I walk on, once again, down these corridors, through these halls, these galleries, in this structure of another century, this enormous, luxurious, baroque, lugubrious hotel, where corridors succeed endless corridors…

What unfolds is a play within a play, a spookily atmospheric hall of mirrors, an aesthetic feast, and an intellection mind game. An unnamed male protagonist attempts to convince a woman of their love affair a year ago in Marienbad, a relationship that either: never happened, that she can’t remember, or she refuses to accept.

There’s a love/power triangle – the other man could be a symbolic representation of Death. The cinematography, especially the composition is remarkable: gothic-like darkness, twilight stillness, the surrealism echoing Magritte, Giorgio de Chirico, Paul Delvaux’s weird and erotically charged night landscape, the strange theatricality of Balthus, and Edvard Munch’s dance of death.

Last Year in Marienbad exudes enigmatic ambiguity, maintaining our interest with stunning cinematography and a unique vision that went on to influence The Shining and Mulholland Drive.


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