Alain Resnais

Author: Emma Wilson

Resnais's films are often perceived as demanding, cerebral or soporific. Resnais's directorial ambitions were first realised in a series of documentaries and, from 1959 onwards, in feature films. As his career develops, his filmography replaces his biography in the spotlight of critical interest. This book offers introductions to individual films in its eight chapters. Reflecting on the disruption of chronology in Resnais's films, and their focus on intense pain and rarefied mental activity, notions of trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder have been key to recent critical discussion. In Hiroshima mon amour, the history of Hiroshima is embedded within the first traumatic and erotic images of the film. Resnais's second feature film, L'Année dernière à Marienbad, is composed of echoes of Chekhov. Muriel is a film which plays on our nerves. Between 1964 and 1976 Resnais made three films: La Guerre est finie, Je t'aime je t'aime and Stavisky; he also contributed a section to Chris Marker's collaborative Loin du Viêt-nam (1967) and worked on a number of projects which did not come to fruition. Providence is a film which is self-conscious about cinema as medium. From his extraordinary reckoning with parallel lives and human behaviour in Mon oncle à Amérique, he moves to a tightly interwoven yet farcical drama about history and education in La Vie est un roman, two delicate chamber pieces about love and death, L'Amour à mort and Mélo, and a burlesque yet melancholy film about an American cartoonist, I Want to Go Home.

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