Last Year at Marienbad (Alain Resnais, 1961)

No wonder X wants to escape this torturous present and focus on his past affair with A.  Or maybe it’s a fantasy of an affair with A.  Or maybe the present we’re seeing is fantasy.  Damned if I know.  Hell, this isn’t a luxurious vacation place of a hotel so much as Madame Tussaud’s wax museum.  As the creepy organ music blares and the rich snobs stiffly trudge along like Molly Shannon in that Seinfeld episode, it’s all like a funeral procession for androids.  The dialogue irritated me, even as X intriguingly describes this supposed past affair that A has no memory of; but then again, the formal, flowery words are perhaps the most robotic aspect of all, which may serve to further the dehumanizing atmosphere of this place.  Amongst the statue-like robotic rich people standing still in that garden or slowly trudging through those hallways towards nowhere, one image that really stuck with me was everyone watching a concert, a small group of string players; we watch it too, but we don’t hear it.  As we watch the bows eagerly and furiously moving back and forth on the violins and cellos, we don’t hear the music those instruments give birth to; we hear the same funeralistic organ music that’s pervaded this hotel and this film from the opening moments.  Under the visual facade of decadence and nobility, these so-called people aren’t living at all, they’re not-so-living proof of Macbeth’s soliloquy, of life being “but a walking shadow, a poor player / That struts and frets his hour upon the stage, / And then is heard no more.  It is a tale / told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, / Signifying nothing” (had to do it after my shitty Macbeth write-up).  I didn’t give a shit about A’s supposed husband or lover or controller or whatever he is M, other than the really cool card game he beats everyone at, or about the supposed affair between X and A, or the semi-poetic language that pervades it all.  Hell, this could’ve been a silent film for all I care, the atmosphere alone is what stuck with me, one that for the sake of humanity I hope is just one part of X’s grand and elaborate fantasy.


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