Re: Alain Robbe-Grillet -
I am interested in what film-philosophy people today think about ARG,
now that he has passed on - that is, what they think about his
contribution to cinema. Which is to say, not really Marienbad,
Resnais' movie, but l'Immortelle, Trans-Europ Express, l'homme qui
ment, and l'eden et apres (things afterwards are admittedly
increasingly problematic, e.g. Glissements progressifs du plaisir ).
I remember being really struck by l'eden et apres in grad school, and
then the others as I worked my way backward through pirated copies of
the earlier films. The initial a-temporal thematic listing (of
images), followed by their insertion in time (narrative), is very
interesting and unusual (like Joyce in the Sirens chapter of Ulysses).
Should this be forgotten?
I am currently writing (or planning to...) a book chapter on Robbe-
Grillet, and what seems unfair to me is how much he has fallen out of
the critical discourse, given my sense that he is among the most
important novelists of the century. But he is NOT one of the most
important filmmakers, and I have a bit of trouble really placing him,
since there is so little substantial criticism, and nothing recently.
So what do people think? Are any of these movies worth reviving?
Curiously Koch Lorber did recently release a dvd of la belle captive,
surely NOT a major ARG film. Is ARG destined for the soft-porn
circuit, a sort of overly intellectual, tedious Jesus Franco? Or is
there something challenging, if not of Resnais quality, about the
experimentation with narrative in those first four films? I
personally, living and teaching in Turkey, find l'Immortelle
fascinating in its shameless use of touristical imagery on the one
hand (Istanbul doesn't exist for a westerner; it is merely a poster of
minarets above the bosporus on the wall of a travel agency), all the
while that it, with real discipline, eschews any real use Istanbul to
give lie to that thesis. I find this a brilliant statement about
cultural otherness. Its implication with the feminine object of desire
may have its glitches, but the movie is certainly worth a new viewing
(i.e. dvd release).
Likewise l'homme qui ment (and Jean-Louis Trintignant's performance in
it) is certainly worth mentioning in the context of narrative
experimentation in late 60s french film, and by its undermining of
cinema subjectivity and narrative convention (again, Resnais insights;
not exactly Resnais execution) merits some kind of place in a canon of
that period. I guess I am revealing the answer I have to my own
question: in parts interesting, but not Alain Resnais. But I wonder if
others have something more to add. In memoriam at least....
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