Well, its a devastating film for its time and a crucial one too. Villeneuve would have to wait for somebody to do it first so he could copy it and pay it homage to it if it didn't already exist because he's not walking on that avant-garde line as much as he seems to get credit for to me. But then again I would think every French director in that time wished they had made it too - love it or hate it - it's an act of artistic daring you have to admire.
Of course that movie has at least an equal partner to the auteur in its writer but everyone will focus on Resnais because we don't like writers much nowadays (look at the highest rated RT films from this year and shudder) The writer, or should I say deviser of that film, Alain Robbe-Grillet, was diabolical and precise in how the events mock behaviors we've seen in other films and in collaboration with Resnais it becomes almost hypnotic (or boring depending on your POV).
It's a piece that is tied to many things which it illustrates and emphasizes - the existentialist writing movement in France, psychoanalysis, and horror films in a way too because what is that movie but the most carefully controlled, stylized and calibrated of horrors?
One of the best films of the 1960's. A superb and utterly unique depiction of a confused and/or traumatized mind working through obscured and generally unpleasant figments of memory. I've seen nothing else like it, and this is one of those that I can see myself liking even more than I already do as I get older.
By the way, for people who like this film, I'd recommend Werner Herzog's Heart Of Glass which takes a somewhat similar idea and approach (he actually hypnotized his cast) and weaves the story he's telling into parables and myths. Not that you'd think it's like Marienbad but it has the same kind of eerie pull and fascination..........it's not too often discussed or widely seen.
This was a film class watch for me, so it’s been a while. I liked it: it’s exquisitely shot with mostly mesmeric tonal control, I love its ghostly aristocratic limbo, but it’s at times infuriatingly vague. There’s actually a very funny moment in Chris Marker’s doc Le Joli Mai where an interviewee is asked if he’s going to see Marienbad and he snaps backs “I’m gonna pay money to rack my brains? Pff!”
But like pacinoyes says there’s a helluva lot to unpack in its influences and themes. It’s essentially a twist on the Orpheus and Eurydice myth, Sartre’s No Exit, and also Proust's quote comes to mind, paraphrased: “When two people that used to love each other meet again there is an abyss of death between them.”
As fascinating as it is, there are others from Resnais I prefer: maybe Providence, but definitely Hiroshima Mon Amour, Mon Oncle D’Amerique, and Muriel.
It's pretty extraordinary and I think that its uniqueness still stands firmly even in spite of how many different films and styles have been created since. The language Resnais and Robbe-Grillet find to explore memories and feelings is nothing short of amazing - it's spellbinding, it's truly magnificently executed and even with its labyrinths it finds a way to impact the viewer emotionally. A great accomplishment.
It's probably to long that I've seen the film to state something meaningful, but I have to say that while I thought the first hour was nearly fascinating and nearly hypnotical. But then I was waiting for the veil of the mystery to be lifted or to get at least some a bit more significant indications. Of course you can interpret much into it, but I still felt unsatisfied. So it meant to me to be an atmospheric, psychological interesting experiment, that looked impressive as well, but was empty concerning the story and also left me emotionally cold.