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A close reading of L'Année dernière à Marienbad by Alain Robbe-Grillet 1987

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A CLOSE READING OF L'ANNEE DERNIERE A MARIENBAD BY ALAIN ROBBE-GRILLET By DREW CHRISTOPHER SCHOFER B.A., The U n i v e r s i t y of B r i t i s h Columbia, 1983 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS i n THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES (Department of French) We accept t h i s t h e s i s as conforming to the r e q u i r e d standard THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA A p r i l , 1987 ® Drew C h r i s t o p h e r Schofer, 1987 3t In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanced degree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make it freely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of my department or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying or publication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my written permission. Drew Christopher Schofer Department of French The University of British Columbia 1956 Main Mall Vancouver, Canada V6T 1Y3 Date A p r i l 2 2 , 1987 nF.tn/dn ABSTRACT L'Annee De r n i e r e a Marienbad i s a n a r r a t i v e f i l m which p l a y s with Appearance and R e a l i t y i n a baroque f a s h i o n . T h i s t h e s i s i s an attempt to come to terms with the Marienbad world view. In the i n t r o d u c t i o n are d i s c u s s e d the arguments a g a i n s t the f i l m as expressed by P a u l i n e K a e l , as w e l l as the commentary s t y l e of my c r i t i c a l approach. In the f i r s t chapter we are faced w i t h f i l m as hig h a r t , as the camera takes us on an a r c h i t e c t u r a l t o u r of a baroque chateau while a nameless n a r r a t o r d e s c r i b e s the s e t . E v e n t u a l l y the v o i c e i s r e v e a l e d to be t h a t of an a c t o r i n a p l a y . In the audience d i s c u s s i n g t h i s p l a y we meet our three p r o t a g o n i s t s : A, a mysterious woman; M, a man who may be her husband; and X, a man who t r i e s to persuade her to leave with him. We are teased by meaning and symbolism at every t u r n as we await the p l o t o f our s t o r y t o u n f o l d . Chapter two takes us to the gardens where we are presented a st a t u e o f a man, woman and dog. X evokes scenes from A's and h i s "shared" p a s t . The s t y l e o f Marienbad's e d i t i n g r e p l a c e s t r a d i t i o n a l Hollywood Decoupage with a v e r s i o n i t s c r e a t o r s b e l i e v e to be c l o s e r t o r e a l i t y as i t should be presented on f i l m . A p o s s i b l e reason f o r the number of d e t r a c t o r s of Marienbad i s d i s c o v e r e d to be the in h e r e n t p a s s i v e a g g r e s s i o n present i n the f i l m . The f i n a l chapter o u t l i n e s X's search f o r i i an ending and d i s c u s s e s our r e a c t i o n s to these v a r i o u s s o l u t i o n s . The c o n c l u s i o n compares the ending from R e s n a i s 1 s Hiroshima Mon Amour to the end of Marienbad p r e s e n t i n g the t i m e l e s s r e a l i t y of f i c t i t i o u s f i l m . The search f o r a c o n c l u s i o n or answer to the r i d d l e of Marienbad however remains e l u s i v e . We are i n v i t e d to encounter p o s s i b i l i t i e s as o f t e n as we, an audience, encounter L'Annee D e r n i e r e a Marienbad. i i i TABLE OF CONTENTS ABSTRACT i i ACKNOWLEDGEMENT v INTRODUCTION 1 NOTES • 5 CHAPTER 1 6 NOTES 38 CHAPTER 2 39 NOTES 71 CHAPTER 3 . • 7 3 NOTES 91 CONCLUSION 92 NOTES 9 5 BIBLIOGRAPHY 96 i v ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I would l i k e t o d e d i c a t e t h i s t h e s i s t o my f r i e n d June Troke with whom I f i r s t experienced L'Annee D e r n i e r e a Marienbad. I owe so much t o Joanne Yamaguchi who pr o v i d e d the i n s p i r i n g winds f o r my s a i l s , as w e l l as to Ralph Sarkonak who p i l o t e d the rudder to s t e e r me c l e a r of the ro c k s . T h i s t h e s i s i s f o r those who b e l i e v e ! v 1 INTRODUCTION One need not search f a r to f i n d arguments a g a i n s t L'Annee De r n i e r e a Marienbad. w r i t t e n by A l a i n R o b b e - G r i l l e t and d i r e c t e d by A l a i n Resnais. I t i s the type of f i l m which moves i t s audience e i t h e r t o lov e i t or hate i t ; one can f i n d no one l e f t unmoved. I p r e f e r t o quote here, not a gre a t c r i t i c of French L i t e r a t u r e , but r a t h e r a famous and very powerful c r i t i c whose work i s w e l l known to the g e n e r a l p u b l i c . P a u l i n e Kael of The New Yorker w r i t e s : The term " s l e e p i n g beauty" p r o v i d e s , I t h i n k , a f a i r l y good t r a n s i t i o n to L a s t Year a t Marienbad — or S l e e p i n g Beauty of the I n t e r n a t i o n a l Set, the h i g h - f a s h i o n experimental f i l m , the snow job i n the i c e p a l a c e . Here we are, back at the no-fun p a r t y with non-people, i n what i s d e s c r i b e d t o us as an "enormous, l u x u r i o u s , baroque, l u g u b r i o u s h o t e l — where c o r r i d o r s succeed endless c o r r i d o r s . " I can s c a r c e l y quote even t h a t much of the t h i c k malted prose without wanting to i n t e r j e c t — "Oh, come o f f i t . " 1 How someone of Kael's c a l i b e r can r e j e c t so whole-heartedly such a v a l i a n t step forward i n ci n e m a t i c form as Marienbad i s hard to fathom. E s p e c i a l l y when she r e a c t s so f a v o u r a b l y to a f i l m which a l s o advanced f i l m h i s t o r y w h i le s t i r r i n g up p a s s i o n a t e debate: L a s t Tango i n P a r i s , d i r e c t e d by Bernardo B e r t o l u c c i . 2 R e a l i s m w i t h t h e t e r r o r o f a c t u a l e x p e r i e n c e s t i l l l i v e o n t h e s c r e e n — t h a t ' s w h a t B e r t o l u c c i a n d B r a n d o a c h i e v e . . . I ' v e t r i e d t o d e s c r i b e t h e i m p a c t o f a f i l m t h a t h a s made t h e s t r o n g e s t i m p r e s s i o n o n me i n a l m o s t t w e n t y y e a r s o f r e v i e w i n g . T h i s i s a m o v i e p e o p l e w i l l be a r g u i n g a b o u t , I t h i n k , f o r a s l o n g a s t h e r e a r e m o v i e s . . . I t i s a m o v i e y o u c a n ' t g e t o u t o f y o u r s y s t e m , a n d I t h i n k i t w i l l make some p e o p l e v e r y a n g r y a n d d i s g u s t o t h e r s . . . I t . c o u l d e m b a r r a s s t h e m , a n d e v e n f r i g h t e n t h e m . F o r a d u l t s , i t ' s l i k e s e e i n g p i e c e s o f y o u r l i f e , a n d s o , o f c o u r s e , y o u c a n ' t r e s o l v e y o u r f e e l i n g s a b o u t i t — o u r f e e l i n g s a b o u t l i f e a r e n e v e r r e s o l v e d . 2 T h e f i r s t t i m e I saw L a s t T a n g o i n P a r i s I b e l i e v e d i t t o be a f a i l e d m i s t a k e , a n u t t e r w a s t e o f t i m e . J u s t a s K a e l r e a c t s • to M a r i e n b a d I w o u l d w a n t t o i n t e r j e c t t o s a y , " O h , come o f f i t ! " W h i l e a g r e a t d e a l o f T a n g o ' s p r o b l e m w i t h t h e p u b l i c i s w i t h r e g a r d t o e r o t i c i s m , a t t h e same t i m e t h e p r o b l e m o f r e a l i s m i n f i l m i s o n c e m o r e a d d r e s s e d . M a r i e n b a d b y i t s f o r m a n d p l o t s t r u c t u r e a l s o demands a r e s p o n s e f r o m i t s a u d i e n c e . A s o n e m o r e p r o b l e m t h r o w n i n t o t h e b a t t l e o f R e a l i s m , M a r i e n b a d w i l l n o t l e a v e o n e ' s e m o t i o n s a l o n e . A l t h o u g h t h e s c r i p t o f M a r i e n b a d was p u b l i s h e d a f t e r t h e r e l e a s e o f t h e f i l m a s a " c i n e - r o m a n , " I t r e a t M a r i e n b a d a s a f i l m , n o t o n l y a s a s c r i p t . T h e r e i s a l s o a n a r g u m e n t a m o n g s t many c r i t i c s a s t o w h e t h e r i t i s a R e s n a i s f i l m o r a R o b b e - G r i l l e t f i l m . I l e a v e t h a t a r g u m e n t t o o t h e r s , f o r I h a v e t a k e n R o b b e - G r i l l e t a t h i s w o r d a s he w r i t e s : L 1 a c c o r d n ' a p u s e f a i r e , e n t r e A l a i n R e s n a i s e t m o i , q u e p a r c e q u e n o u s a v o n s d e s l e d e b u t v u l e f i l m d e l a meme m a n i e r e ; e t n o n p a s e n g r o s de l a meme m a n i e r e , m a i s e x a c t e m e n t , d a n s s o n a r c h i t e c t u r e d ' e n s e m b l e comme d a n s l a c o n s t r u c t i o n d u m o i n d r e d e t a i l . Ce q u e j ' e c r i v a i s , c ' e s t comme s ' i l l ' a v a i t e u d e j x a e n t £ t e ; c e q u ' i l a j o u t a i t a u t o u r n a g e , c ' 4 t a i t e n c o r e c e q u e j ' a u r a i s p u i n v e n t e r . I I e s t i m p o r t a n t d ' i n s i s t e r l a - d e s s u s , c a r une e n t e n t e s i c o m p l e t e e s t p r o b a b l e m e n t a s s e z r a r e . 3 3 Marienbad i s a f i l m about d e c i s i o n . The unknown woman A must choose between what M (a man who i s perhaps her husband) and X (an unknown s t r a n g e r who t r i e s to convince her t h a t they f e l l i n lo v e l a s t year at Marienbad) o f f e r her. My problem as c r i t i c was how to decide what was t r u e and f a l s e i n the movie as i t i s e xperienced. F a s c i n a t e d by Marienbad when I f i r s t saw i t i n France s i x years ago I knew t h a t I wanted to w r i t e about i t , but I c o u l d not decide what was the " t r u t h " about the f i l m and I c o u l d n ' t decide how to o r d e r i t s themes and problems. T h e r e f o r e I have adapted the form of commentary found i n Roland Barthes's S/Z without the codes. I d i s c u s s Marienbad as i f i t i s experienced by a h y p o t h e t i c a l super viewer. I comment l i t t l e or a l o t about ideas and s e n s a t i o n s as one might experience the f i l m . Some might wonder why there are some scenes or s u b j e c t s which I have omitted, but t h i s i s o n l y due to the humble f a c t t h a t one cannot comment on or e x p l a i n e v e r t h i n g . A f i n a l note I would l i k e to mention here i s the d i f f e r e n c e between Marienbad as a s c r i p t and as a f i l m . Only by r e a d i n g the s c r i p t i s one aware from the o u t s e t of the e x i s t e n c e of o n l y three main c h a r a c t e r s , A, X and M. While watching Marienbad l i t t l e by l i t t l e one i s made aware of the f a c t t h a t t h e r e are three nameless c h a r a c t e r s who dominate the s t o r y . T h e r e f o r e the experience o f . t h i s d i s c o v e r y i s f a r more dramatic i n the viewing of Marienbad as opposed to the r e a d i n g of the cine-roman. Je reve d'une c r e a t i o n mobile ou des a r c h i t e c t u r e s f o r t e s , et ne l a i s s a n t r i e n au hasard, s e r a i e n t 4 p o u r t a n t m i n e e s de l ' i n t e r i e u r , t o u j o u r s en t r a i n de s ' 6 d i f i e r , de s ' o r g a n i s e r , e t de s ' e c r o u l e r en meme temps, p o u r l a i s s e r au f u r e t a mesure l e champ l i b r e "a des c o n s t r u c t i o n s n o u v e l l e s . 4 NOTES I n t r o d u c t i o n P a u l i n e K a e l , "The come-dressed-as-the-sick-soul-of-Europe P a r t i e s " i n I L o s t i t at the Movies (Boston: A t l a n t i c Monthly Press, 1 9 6 5 ) , p. 1 8 6 . P a u l i n e K a e l , I n t r o d u c t i o n to Bernardo B e r t o l u c c i and Franco A r e a l l i L a s t Tango i n P a r i s (New York: D e l a c o r t e Press, 1973) A l a i n R o b b e - G r i l l e t , L Annee D e r n i e r e a Marienbad ( P a r i s : E d i t i o n s de M i n u i t , 1 9 6 1 ) , p. 9 . A l a i n R o b b e - G r i l l e t as quoted on p . 1 i n Roy Armes' The F i l m s of A l a i n R o b b e - G r i l l e t (Amsterdam: John Benjamins B.V., 1981) . 6 CHAPTER 1 The camera pans the w a l l s and c e i l i n g s of a baroque chateau accompanied by e e r i e organ music and the v o i c e of an unseen n a r r a t o r who r e c i t e s the f o l l o w i n g : "Une f o i s de p l u s j e m'avance, une f o i s de p l u s , l e l o n g de ces c o u l o i r s , ~a t r a v e r s ces s a l o n s , c e s v g a l e r i e s , dans c e t t e c o n s t r u c t i o n — d'un autre s i e c l e , c e t h o t e l immense, luxueux, baroque, lugubre, ou des c o u l o i r s i n t e r m i n a b l e s succedent aux c o u l o i r s . . . " We f o l l o w the calm r e p e t i t i o n of t h i s speech, while b e i n g shown the empty l u x u r i o u s h a l l s and v a s t rooms of the h o t e l . We f o l l o w the camera to a h a l l where a p l a y i s b e i n g staged and the n a r r a t i n g v o i c e becomes t h a t of the a c t o r . An a c t r e s s s t a r e s a t a clock, and waits while the a c t o r t a l k s of the man she w i l l e v e n t u a l l y l e a v e . On stage we f i n d a c l o c k , a r e p r e s e n t a t i o n of a French garden, a balcony and a s t a t u e . The p l a y ends as the camera passes through the audience. We hear b i t s of mysterious d i a l o g u e , about a man named Franck and v a r i o u s i n t r i g u e s . We see a man, i n t e r m i t t e n t l y seen b e f o r e , who meets a b e a u t i f u l woman. A f t e r d e s c r i b i n g the chateau and dancing with her, he i s s u r p r i s e d t h a t she doesn't remember him. The sequence ends with t h i s man s h o o t i n g i n a t a r g e t p r a c t i c e g a l l e r y . 1 The f i r s t s e c t i o n of Marienbad i s f u l l of unanswered i n t r i g u e . Meaning i s thrown out as we t u r n every c o r n e r . The f i l m ' s form as w e l l as content are e q u a l l y enigmatic. I f the s p e c t a t o r t i r e s o f Marienbad i t i s not u n t i l much l a t e r a f t e r t h i s i n i t i a l twenty minutes, f o r the q u e s t i o n s are too i n t r i g u i n g and the l e v e l of ambiguity i s not yet too g r e a t . One imagines t h a t e v e r y t h i n g w i l l be r e s o l v e d and answered. Marienbad works as the b u i l d i n g up of 7 l a y e r upon l a y e r of meaning. What may be an i n t r i g u i n g , yet seemingly i r r e l e v a n t comment or sequence o f a c t i o n , takes on g r e a t e r meaning as we see the same t h i n g repeated, added t o , or f u r t h e r developed l a t e r on. As we enter the f i l m , a sequence of t y p i c a l f i l m - e n d i n g emotional music i s p l a y e d . Has the s t o r y j u s t ended? Are we about to watch a p a s s i o n a t e love s t o r y ? The opening sequences show us the h i g h - v a u l t e d c e i l i n g s of the i n t e r i o r o f a baroque chateau. The angle of the camera i s a h i g h - t i l t , which enhances the h e i g h t and depth, as w e l l as c u t t i n g out every other p a r t of the rooms from our view. These h e a v i l y decorated baroque c e i l i n g s appear as e e r i e organ music i s p l a y e d . Could t h i s be the e n t r y i n t o a church -- or i s t h i s the o v e r l y s e r i o u s r e l i g i o u s - l i k e world of "high a r t " ? The tone of the n a r r a t o r , the r e p e t i t i o n of • a r c h i t e c t u r a l d e t a i l s i n h i s speech, as w e l l as the images of a baroque i n t e r i o r g i v e us the impression of watching a documentary on a r t . The a r c h i t e c t u r e may be e q u a l l y important as the human drama which i s about to u n f o l d here. We a l s o wonder: i s t h i s Marienbad a l r e a d y or i s i t somewhere e l s e ? The disembodied n a r r a t i n g v o i c e seems non-human i n t h a t i t i s emotionless, calm, and never-ending. I t i s a r e f l e c t i o n i n language of the baroque f e a s t which v i s u a l l y parades b e f o r e our eyes. I t i s non-ending and ornate i n the same way t h a t the ornamentation i s exaggerated and l i m i t l e s s . There seems to be no end to such o v e r f l o w i n g excess. I t i s almost too much f o r the human mind to grasp a l l at once, a l l t o g e t h e r . As we hear the speech without i t s human body, i t provokes and seduces us. 8 Who i s t h i s and to whom i s he speaking? des s a l l e s s i l e n c i e u s e s ou l e s pas de c e l u i q u i s'avance sont absorbes par des t a p i s s i l o u r d s , s i e p a i s , qu'aucun b r u i t de pas ne p a r v i e n t a sa propre o r e i l l e , — comme s i l ' o r e i l l e elle-meme e t a i t t r e s l o i n du s o l , des t a p i s , t r e s l o i n de ce decor l o u r d e t v i d e , (p. 27) A double-entendre i s w e l l shaped by the constant r e f e r e n c e to s i l e n c e , sound and ea r s . For throughout t h i s speech, the sound of the v o i c e i s pla y e d with so t h a t i t i s sometimes hard to hear i t w e l l or understand i t . The r e p e t i t i o n and seemingly non-ending c h a r a c t e r o f the speech imply i t s importance — we want to hear and understand even though our e f f o r t s are due to f a i l . There i s no f u l l stop t o f i n i s h t h i s n a r r a t i o n s i n c e i t i s presented as one l o n g sentence i n the s c r i p t . I t i s a s e r i e s o f long phrases j o i n e d by dashes; e i g h t are to be found i n t h i s one paragraph! Whole phrases such as "ou l e s pas de c e l u i " and "comme s i l ' o r e i l l e , " along w i t h a r c h i t e c t u r a l d e s c r i p t i o n s , are s k i l l f u l l y repeated to gi v e the impression of d e s c r i b i n g the s e t t i n g m e a n i n g f u l l y , w hile a c t u a l l y s a y i n g the same t h i n g s again and again i n a convoluted manner. We l i s t e n c a r e f u l l y t o the ongoing n a r r a t i o n and t r y to assemble and c o n t a i n the e n t i r e flow. We are f o r c e d t o e x e r c i s e our ears as we s t r a i n to comprehend what i s u n f o l d i n g b e f o r e us. In a s i m i l a r f a s h i o n we c a r e f u l l y examine the a r c h i t e c t u r e which i s h i g h l i g h t e d by the camera's c l o s e - u p s . We are made to s t r a i n our senses as we watch Marienbad: there i s no room f o r p a s s i v e o b s e r v a t i o n . I t i s i n t r i g u i n g t o presen t a speech about s i l e n c e i n an 9 almost s i l e n t f a s h i o n . There i s c o n f l i c t between the ideas of s i l e n c e and sound. The rooms are s i l e n t and even the sound of the n a r r a t o r ' s f o o t s t e p s cannot be heard. At the same time we hear (sometimes but not always) the v o i c e as w e l l as the music. The speech d e l i v e r e d under these c o n d i t i o n s appears to c o n t r a d i c t i t s e l f , y e t we t r y to make sense of i t , both a c o u s t i c a l l y and s e m a n t i c a l l y . ' The n a r r a t o r o b j e c t i f i e s h i m s e l f w i t h such phrases as "ou l e s pas de c e l u i q u i s'avance ... comme s i l ' o r e i l l e elie-meme..." Who i s t h i s " c e l u i , " why does he r e f e r to h i m s e l f i n t h i s o b l i q u e f a s h i o n ? Does t h i s d e s c r i p t i o n a l s o m i r r o r us the s p e c t a t o r s as we "advance" through t h i s chateau even though we are i n a t h e a t e r f a r away from the s e t , or even f a r from the screen? I t seems to be a "non-human" world where man i s o b j e c t i f i e d . In a sense the v o i c e o b j e c t i f i e s i n the same way t h a t the camera o b j e c t i f i e s the rooms, o b j e c t s and e v e n t u a l l y the people i n the chateau. T h i s o b j e c t i f i c a t i o n of the world by image and sound c o u l d be a demonstration i n m i n i a t u r e of what cinema does. I t presents e v e r y t h i n g i n the world as o b j e c t s to be viewed. I t imposes and s e l e c t i v e l y r e v e a l s only a few of the many f a c e t s of an o b j e c t or person as they can be seen or experienced i n our " r e a l " world. In a passage down a h a l l we see a p i c t u r e on the w a l l of a garden and chateau as w e l l as a., t h e a t e r p o s t e r . The garden i s a " s i g n " f o r the f u t u r e of the f i l m t o come. As we enter the 2 t h e a t e r , which the p o s t e r has h i n t e d a t , the v o i c e of the n a r r a t o r becomes "plus jouee." We are r e l i e v e d , f o r now we understand why 10 the v o i c e was so b i z a r r e — i t was the v o i c e of an a c t o r . We can accept i t s "non-human" q u a l i t i e s as a r t i s t i c e x p r e s s i o n . The n a r r a t o r i s "not a r e a l person" but an a c t o r ! I f we thought we c o u l d r e l a x a f t e r d i s c o v e r i n g the t r u e nature of the v o i c e , we are s o r e l y mistaken a f t e r a few "new" l i n e s of the p l a y , which c r i e s out a t every t u r n to be i n t e r p r e t e d . e n t r e ces murs charges de b o i s e r i e s , de s t u c , de moulures de tableaux, de gravures encadr^es, parmi l e s q u e l s j e m'avancais, — parmi l e s q u e l s j ' e t a i s d e j a , moi-m£me, en t r a i n de vous a t t e n d r e , t r e s l o i n de ce decor ou j e me trouve maintenant, devant vous, en t r a i n d'attendre encore c e l u i . . . (p. 29) The past and the p r e s e n t are equated by changing verb tenses i n one long sentence. The f a c t t h a t the p l a c e from the past as w e l l as X's present p o s i t i o n are o n l y d e s c r i b e d in. vague a r c h i t e c t u r a l terms, allows the tenses t o appear to change " n a t u r a l l y . " "Parmi l e s q u e l s j ' e t a i s d e j a moi-meme, en t r a i n de vous a t t e n d r e , t r e s l o i n de ce decor ou j e me trouve maintenant..." I t appears t h a t a c c o r d i n g to the speech, t h i s a c t o r has always been w a i t i n g i n such a p l a c e f o r the a c t r e s s . What i s so u n s e t t l i n g i s t h a t we can n e i t h e r d i s t i n g u i s h the past decor from the present, nor can we d i f f e r e n t i a t e between the p a s t a c t o f w a i t i n g and the present one. For us who must imagine "time" i n our minds f o l l o w i n g the cues from the speech, i t i s d i f f i c u l t to equate as r e a d i l y as the n a r r a t o r does, the p a s t and the p r e s e n t . The f i r s t a r c h i t e c t u r a l d e s c r i p t i o n s c a r r y equal weight: they are of t h i s decor (whatever p l a c e the stage set represents) and somewhere e l s e which was where the man was a w a i t i n g t h i s woman. "En t r a i n de vous a t t e n d r e " evokes not only the p r e s e n t moment 11 as these words are u t t e r e d , but a l s o the pa s t . Such an e f f e c t makes us d i z z y at the attempt to equate two d i s t i n c t , y e t very s i m i l a r p l a c e s and times. What can the equation be between the decor which the camera d e l i b e r a t e l y r e v e a l e d to us from the very b e g i n n i n g of t h i s f i l m up to t h i s p o i n t and the a r c h i t e c t u r e d e s c r i b e d by t h i s a c t o r on t h i s stage? Not o n l y i s an a c t o r w a i t i n g f o r an a c t r e s s , but she may a l s o be w a i t i n g f o r another man, who i s r e f e r r e d to by the a c t o r as "une s i l h o u e t t e g r i s e " and by her as p a r t of "un t e l l i e n , une p r i s o n , un t e l mensonge." From these d e s c r i p t i o n s we get a f e e l i n g of menace and f e a r , which we may have f i r s t e xperienced as we heard the e e r i e music accompanying the v o i c e along the baroque c o r r i d o r s . c e t h o t e l lui-meme, avec ses s a l l e s desormais d e s e r t e s , ses domestiques immobiles, muets, morts depuis longtemps sans d o u t e £ q u i montent encore l a garde a l ' a n g l e des c o u l o i r s (p. 31) T h i s p a r t of the man's speech continues again the p l a y with time, equating the past w i t h the pr e s e n t . The ser v a n t s are both s i l e n t and probably dead now, y e t they s t i l l keep guard i n the corn e r s of the c o r r i d o r s . " S a l l e s desormais d e s e r t e s " come to e x i s t i n the same time frame as "domestiques (morts) q u i montent encore." "Desormais" = Present tense + encore? T h i s may be minor proof of the a b s u r d i t y o f an ordered grammatical system which allows simple d i s t o r t i o n s of tense so e a s i l y , while a t the same time g i v i n g the impression o f " n a t u r a l n e s s . " The sentence can be a t once l o g i c a l l y i m p o s s i b l e and y e t grammatically and s y n t a c t i c a l l y c o r r e c t . 12 Is t h i s a s t o r y of death — i s the n a r r a t o r t h i n k i n g back to a l i f e — h i s own or t h a t of the woman f o r whom he was w a i t i n g ? We have once more entered the realm of the " u n r e a l " where we are u n c e r t a i n as to what i s r e a l and what i s not; where time e x i s t s i n both the past and the present, where both l i f e and death c o e x i s t . We are e q u a l l y b a f f l e d when the a c t r e s s decides to go with the a c t o r once the c l o c k has chimed. We await answers from the movie to come. We f o l l o w the camera as i t passes through the members of the audience as they watch the p l a y . We, the f i l m audience, see o u r s e l v e s r e f l e c t e d on the screen by t h e i r moods and a c t i o n s . We are watching a movie u n f o l d w i t h the same s e r i o u s n e s s as we f i n d etched i n these viewers' f a c e s . As the c l a p p i n g stops, the images of the viewers who are t a l k i n g are stopped and s t a r t e d again. We see a s e r i e s of groups of the members of the audience f r o z e n i n a c t i o n by the camera as they converse. I f we had f o r g o t t e n t h a t we were watching a f i l m a f t e r e x p e r i e n c i n g the sound trucage, these freeze-frames b r i n g back to us the f i l m i c nature of what we are a t t e n d i n g . T h i s f i l m i s a r e p r e s e n t a t i o n of r e a l l i f e : i t i s not meant to "be" the r e a l t h i n g . We w i l l not be allowed to l o s e o u r s e l v e s i n the l i v e s on the screen. And y e t with every b i t of d i a l o g u e and c o n v e r s a t i o n t h a t f o l l o w s , we keep w a i t i n g f o r the c h a r a c t e r s who w i l l be the focus of t h i s s t o r y , to appear so t h a t we may i d e n t i f y with them. D i f f e r e n t groups o f s p e c t a t o r s u t t e r the f o l l o w i n g : Ca d e v a i t e t r e en '28 ou en '29. Vraiment, Ca semble i n c r o y a b l e . Nous nous sommes rencontre's a u t r e f o i s . 13 Vous l'avez vu vous-meme? Non, mais c e t ami me l ' a r a c o n t e . Oh a l o r s , r a c o n t e . v o i r la-dedans un r a p p o r t quelconque... (p. 34) With the e x c e p t i o n of "rencontre" these p a r t i c l e s of c o n v e r s a t i o n r e f e r to p r o v i n g or d i s b e l i e v i n g c e r t a i n events. One person proposes a c e r t a i n p o i n t of view, while another d i s c r e d i t s him o r . r e f u s e s to b e l i e v e i t . However c e r t a i n someone i s i n t h i s f i l m , there i s always someone who r e f u s e s to b e l i e v e what he s t a t e s even when he i s s u p p l i e d with c o n v e n t i o n a l "proof"; i . e . My f r i e n d saw i t ; these t h i n g s are r e l a t e d t h e r e f o r e i t must mean t h i s . Any meaning i s l e f t p r e c i s e l y as a p e r s o n a l p o i n t of view wi t h no more v a l i d i t y than what ot h e r s t h i n k . The f a c t t h a t e v e r y t h i n g keeps r e f l e c t i n g the p l a y or some u n r e a l seemingly i m p o s s i b l e c o n t r a d i t i o n ( l i f e / d e a t h ) , e x i s t i n g on many d i f f e r e n t l e v e l s i n Marienbad, u n d e r l i n e s the r e f u s a l t o p i n p o i n t or decide what i s r e a l and what i s f i c t i o n . (What i s o b j e c t i v e l y or s u b j e c t i v e l y r e a l . ) "Raconter" i s i n a c e r t a i n sense e x a c t l y what the f i l m i s doing to us, y e t a t every t u r n we are warned not to b e l i e v e e v e r y t h i n g to be f i x e d and r e a d i l y e x p l a i n e d and understood. A f i l m i s d e c i d e d l y a " f i c t i o n " however " r e a l " ! Nothing can be taken, a t face value : Appearances most d e f i n i t e l y do d e c e i v e . We wonder i f these people are d i s c u s s i n g the p l a y at a l l or are these c o n v e r s a t i o n s r e f e r r i n g to t h e i r own l i v e s ? We are r e l i e v e d t h a t these people converse i n t e a d of g i v i n g b i z a r r e speeches l i k e the a c t o r . Even i f the camera does stop and s t a r t 14 them (the f r e e z e frames), we accept them as " l i v i n g , r e a l i s t i c " people i n c o n t r a s t with the p l a y . Yet when are we going to meet the p r i n c i p a l p r o t a g o n i s t s i n t h i s movie? A f t e r l i s t e n i n g t o a few a b b r e v i a t e d c o n v e r s a t i o n s , we r e e n t e r the " u n r e a l " while we watch a s e r i e s of f i v e nameless s p e c t a t o r s o b s e r v i n g each ot h e r as the e e r i e music r e t u r n s . T h i s sequence culminates i n an image of a man o b s e r v i n g a couple i n a m i r r o r . I f Marienbad were a person, i t c o u l d be s a i d t o be obsessed with o b s e r v a t i o n . We the s p e c t a t o r s are watching f i l m i c s p e c t a t o r s who i n t u r n are watching each o t h e r . They are watching c u r i o u s l y and a t t e n t i v e l y the " r e a l " people around them, while we i n t u r n watch these a c t o r s perform. Both of these groups want to a t t a c h meaning to and understand what everyone i s s a y i n g . We the s p e c t a t o r s are p a r o d i e d i n a way as being o u r s e l v e s o v e r l y obsessed with meaning. The f a c t t h a t the man (X) as shown i n the frame reproduced watches a couple whom we see as a f i l m e d p h y s i c a l r e f l e c t i o n i n a m i r r o r u n d e r l i n e s t h i s r e f l e x i v i t y . In t h i s c a r e f u l l y composed shot, we observe X o b s e r v i n g someone (whom we haven't y e t met) while the couple i s r e f l e c t e d i n the m i r r o r ; c o u l d t h i s importance of "REGARD" juxtaposed, by the r e f l e c t i o n of the m i r r o r impress upon us t h a t any o b s e r v a t i o n or t a k i n g out of context of someone or something i s as much a s u b j e c t i v e r e f l e c t i o n (of the observer) as an o b j e c t i v e one? S u r e l y o n l y a m i r r o r can t r u l y be " o b j e c t i v e " and even then o n l y so much i s r e v e a l e d , while much i s concealed or d i s t o r t e d . Are we not seeing 15 a c e r t a i n p a r t of the " r e a l i t y " of the Marienbad world through e i t h e r the consciousness of one person (X or...) or even through the l e n s of the camera? Homme: A l o r s entendez mes p l a i n t e s . Je ne peux p l u s supporter ce r<3le. Je ne peux p l u s supporter ce s i l e n c e , ces murs, ces chuchotements ou vous m'enfermez... Femme: Tais e z - v o u s , t a i s e z - v o u s ! (p. 36) T h i s i s the c o n v e r s a t i o n of the couple r e f l e c t e d i n the m i r r o r which X (and we) overhear. T h i s man i s indeed p l a y i n g a r o l e , but i t may be a t l e a s t t h r e e r o l e s r a t h e r than one a l o n e . For he i s the a c t o r p l a y i n g t h i s p a r t , as w e l l as the c h a r a c t e r i n the f i l m who i s being o t h e r than what he wants to be. Yet can he be even l e s s of a r o l e - p l a y e r as he t r i e s to "be h i m s e l f " ? The ordered garden which he r e f e r s to i n t h i s d i a l o g u e i s once more evoked as a s i n i s t e r presence. I t seems to banish emotions; i s i t the symbol of l o g i c and o r d e r — a p l a c e where man c o n t r o l s h i s world through r a t i o n a l i t y — the i r r a t i o n a l o r i n e x p l i c a b l e having been r o o t e d out? A n a t u r a l garden would then presumably c o n t a i n both the r a t i o n a l and the i r r a t i o n a l , the l o g i c a l and the emotional. The s i t u a t i o n d e s c r i b e d by the man r e f l e c t s , t h a t of the a c t o r i n the p l a y : a man who i s l i v i n g a c o n t r a d i c t i n g l i f e mixed wi t h death, t r y i n g to speak through s i l e n c e . Here the couple appears to be r e a l i s t i c , (human enough) ye t when they appear again 'they repeat the same d i a l o g u e . T h e i r s i n c e r i t y of v o i c e i m p l i e s the s e r i o u s n e s s of t h e i r s i t u a t i o n ; t h e i r movements appear to be those of "normal" people. Yet when the man r e f e r s 16 to "deux c e r c e u i l s et un j a r d i n f i g e " (p. 36) I t i s as though we have been t r a n s p o r t e d back to the p l a y . There i s something u n s e t t l i n g about t h e i r c o n t r a d i c t i n g s i g n s of l i f e / d e a t h , emotion/ p a s s i o n l e s s d e v o t i o n . They have been presented as members of the audience, and we presume them to be r e a l people. They move around, d i s c u s s , while e x p r e s s i n g apparent emotions. Yet the man's complaints u n c a n n i l y echo the overtones of death amid l i f e i n a garden, as expressed by the a c t o r i n the p l a y . The words of t h i s man's speech imply h e a r t f e l t emotion and y e t the r e p e t i t i o n and monotony of the same phrases undermine our f i r s t r e a c t i o n . We see a man who appears as both a c t o r and non-actor; e x p e r i e n c i n g the emotion he d e s c r i b e s , but a l s o merely p l a y i n g a r o l e . As h i s r o l e echoes t h a t of the a c t o r we are d e l i b e r a t e l y reminded of the f a c t t h a t t h i s i s a c r e a t e d f i l m which we are watching and not the d i r e c t e x p r e s s i o n of " r e a l l i f e . " T h i s e f f e c t of u n d e r l i n i n g the t h e a t r i c a l nature of what we are e x p e r i e n c i n g I r e f e r to as T h e a t r i c a l i t y . The o b j e c t of a l l these s h i f t i n g l e v e l s of apparent r e a l i t y and t h e a t r i c a l i t y seems to be p a r t of the c r e a t o r s 1 game of p l a y i n g w i t h our e x p e c t a t i o n s as members of a f i l m audience. We keep hoping to see " r e a l i s t i c " people on the screen, people who w i l l be p a r t of the s t o r y t h a t we have come to witness; however our p r o s p e c t i v e p r o t a g o n i s t s always t u r n out to be somewhat b i z a r r e . "une t r e s b e l l e femme ... beaucoup t r o p d ' i m a g i n a t i o n " (The r e f e r e n c e to t h i s l i n e i s on page 38, but i t i s more s k e l e t a l i n the s c r i p t . ) We see the woman (A) whom X w i l l pursue to the 17 s i d e i n a "statuesque" pose as two men converse. What they d i s c u s s may r e f e r to the woman i n the p l a y , t h e i r own p r i v a t e s t o r i e s , A and the f i l m t o come. I t i s a beacon of enigmatic meaning which sent out now, w i l l haunt us l a t e r . ces d o i g t s f a i t s pour s e r r e r , ces yeux f a i t s pour vous v o i r , q u i d o i v e n t se detourner de vous — v e r s ces murs charges d 1ornaments d'un a u t r e s i e c l e , b o i s e r i e s n o i r e s , dorures, m i r o i r s t a i l l e s , p o r t r a i t s a nciens, -- g u i r l a n d e s de stuc aux enlacements baroques, — chapiteaux en trompe l ' o e i l , fausses p o r t e s , fausses colonnes, p e r s p e c t i v e s truque'es, fausses i s s u e s . (p. 39) Again we hear the v o i c e of the n a r r a t o r , but t h i s time there i s no p l a y ; t h i s man i s p a r t of the u n r e a l world of Marienbad. We are confused as the t h e a t r i c a l v o i c e imposes on the " r e a l " world of the s p e c t a t o r s . What k i n d of world i s t h i s where the t h e a t r i c a l i s q u i t e " n a t u r a l l y " presented a l o n g s i d e the everyday, or amongst s e r i o u s d i s c u s s i o n s of " r e a l " people as they are presented on the screen? We are not g e t t i n g a complete p i c t u r e of what i s going on — are we l o o k i n g at the world- through the consciousness of someone? X or A or who? Here begins X's copying of what other people say. He i s f i n d i n g a v o i c e i n which to speak — i s a l l of t h i s f i l m up to now seen from h i s p o i n t of view? No! The scenes d e l i v e r e d to us through the camera's eye d i v i d e themselves up between h i s view, an autonomous view, or e a s i l y enough t h a t of someone e l s e . We cannot be c e r t a i n whether he i s copying o t h e r s or i f they are copying him, f o r both occur i n t h i s f i r s t sequence. 18 En r e a l i t e , Ca n ' e t a i t pas t e l l e m e n t e x t r a o r d i n a i r e . C'est lui-me^me q u i a v a i t monte 1 * a f f a i r e de toutes p i e c e s , s i b i e n , q u ' i l c o n n a i s s a i t d'avance t o u t e s l e s i s s u e s , (pp. 40-41) T h i s i s unaccompanied by any music. J u s t when we l e a s t expected i t , y e t most hoped f o r i t , we are once more plunged i n t o "apparent" r e a l i t y . The speaker r e f e r s t o some p r i v a t e i n t r i g u e , y e t t h i s c o u l d a l s o r e f e r to the f i l m which we are watching. The c r e a t o r s have s e t up an e x t r a o r d i n a r y y e t o b v i o u s l y c a l c u l a t e d c r e a t i o n . T h i s may p o s i t the p o s s i b i l i t y of understanding both the p l a y w i t h i n the f i l m as w e l l as the f i l m i t s e l f . Jeune Homme: Vous n'etes pas i c i depuis longtemps? Jeune Femme: Mais j 'y s u i s d e j a venue, vous savez. Jeune Homme: C'est un e n d r o i t que vous aimez? Jeune Femme: Moi, non, pas t e l l e m e n t . C'est l e hasard: on r e v i e n t t o u j o u r s i c i . Mori pere d e v a i t . . . (p. 41) The s i m p l i c i t y o f t h e i r d i a l o g u e as w e l l as t h e i r enthusiasm g i v e us an impression t h a t t h i s couple i s very normal and r e a l . They conduct a r e a l c o n v e r s a t i o n i n a l i v e l y manner, u n l i k e the r e p e t i t i v e , s i n i s t e r , non-conversation of the other couple. They appear spontaneous and l i v e l y , which r e f r e s h e s us a f t e r h e a r i n g X and the other couple speak as though they were g i v i n g speeches i n a lug u b r i o u s and t h e a t r i c a l manner. Apparen t l y , not everyone i s " b i z a r r e and u n r e a l i s t i c " i n t h i s f i l m . (Why should some be more r e a l i s t i c than others?) Even the f a c t t h a t the young woman has been here b e f o r e does not haunt or shock us i n the same way t h a t the other couple's d i a l o g u e m i r r o r i n g the a c t o r s i n the p l a y d i d . In f r o n t o f a p i c t u r e of a garden an anonymous woman1s 19 v o i c e asks "dont i l n'y a pas moyen de s'echapper?" (p. 42) and i n echo the v o i c e of X answers with the same phrase. X appears to be somewhat " u n r e a l " as the c o p i e r of o t h e r people. Is a l l t h i s going on i n someone's mind — someone whom we haven't y e t seen? There i s no escape from t h i s endless enigmatic q u e s t i o n i n g which t h i s f i l m imposes upon us. I t i s a v e r i t a b l e l a b y r i n t h of q u e s t i o n s whose s a t i s f a c t o r y s o l u t i o n s elude us. There are many d i f f e r e n t paths to the c e n t e r of a garden's maze. There may be no c l e a r answer to enigmas evoked by t h i s movie; t h e r e may not be one f i n a l meaning t o i t a l l . Vous ne connaissez pas l ' h i s t o i r e ? On ne p a r l a i t que de 9a l'annee d e r n i e r e . (p. 43, the c o r r e s p o n d i n g scene i s d e s c r i b e d on pp. 42-44) T h i s i s u t t e r e d t o a group of t h r e e o t h e r people by an u n i d e n t i f i e d guest. Could t h i s be the e n t r y i n t o what happened "l'annee d e r n i e r e "a Marienbad"? We are used to see i n g f l a s h b a c k s to p r e s e n t a f i l m i c s t o r y from the past; i s t h i s where we w i l l see the b i z a r r e n e s s of t h i s f i l m d i s s o l v e and a c l e a r s t o r y of l a s t year presented? We hear of a man named Franck. I t i s the f i r s t time t h a t someone i s mentioned by name. He, j u s t l i k e the f i l m we are watching i s f u l l of f a l s e appearances. He used the p r e t e x t of e x p l a i n i n g a p i c t u r e t o g a i n e n t r y t o a woman's room. As c l o s e as we may be to our expectant story^we s t i l l are l e f t i n doubt of what happened. A l l we can sense i s a f e e l i n g o f menace and mystery. 3 The camera pans ac r o s s t h i s group ( i n p i c t u r e A) to another room (picture. B). At the same moment t h a t the words " s u r v e i l l a n c e 20 A v y y p l u t o t b i z a r r e , l e s o i r ou i l a vo u l u penetrer dans sa chambre," we e n t e r the oth e r room, as the camera surveys i t , where the three men are p l a y i n g c a r d s . We then r e - e n t e r the other room: as the camera r e t u r n s to the c a r d p l a y e r s , we hear the v o i c e of M s a y i n g : "Non pas maintenant ... j e vous propose un aut r e j e u " (p. 4 5 ) . M has a p p r e n t l y been i n two p l a c e s a t the same time. In the second room ( p i c t u r e C), X has a l s o " i n v i s i b l y " r e p l a c e d the second man a t the game t a b l e . M and X have both " m a g i c a l l y " been t r a n s p o r t e d on f i l m . The f a c t t h a t the camera as w e l l as the sound t r a c k seem t o be p l a y i n g t r i c k s i s u n d e r l i n e d by the seemingly innocent r e f e r e n c e to "un aut r e j e u . " The e f f e c t on the s p e c t a t o r of t h i s obvious TRUCAGE i s one of d i s o r i e n t a t i o n and shock. In and of themselves the scenes appear " r e a l " and c r e d i b l e as the p r e s e n t a t i o n of a group c o n v e r s i n g and a group p l a y i n g c a r d s . I t i s t h e i r j u x t a p o s i t i o n , which occurs without warning, t h a t upsets any f e e l i n g of r e a l i t y . What we must admit to o u r s e l v e s i s t h a t t h i s scene i s played with — the camera can p l a y t r i c k s on us. We keep t r y i n g t o reach a l e v e l i n t h i s f i l m where we can i d e n t i f y with the c h a r a c t e r s and f e e l t h a t they express our " r e a l world." A f e e l i n g which we f l e e t i n g l y had with the young couple. We are used to Hollywood r e a l i s m , where the f i l m guides us from one event t o another, g i v i n g us a f e e l i n g of a complete s t o r y t a k i n g p l a c e i n our world. A f i l m c ut a c c o r d i n g to DECOUPAGE CLASSIQUE r u l e s b e l i e v e s i n and r e p r e s e n t s one r e a l i t y : an o b j e c t i v e one. The f i l m t r i e s to present the viewers with a s t o r y which p o r t r a y s t h e i r "human, 21 r a t i o n a l and c a u s a l " world. T h i s formula f o r r e a l i t y was and i s the on l y accepted " r e a l i s m " as p r a c t i c e d by the Hollywood f i l m i n d u s t r y from the t h i r t i e s t o t h i s day. The American filmmakers i n t h i s e r a found t h a t i f space were broken up a c c o r d i n g to the l o g i c of the n a r r a t i v e , i t would pass unnoticed as i n t e g r a l or r e a l space. E d i t o r s l e a r n e d t o cut a scene i n t o i t s n a r r a t i v e * components and thus f o l l o w the l i n e of c u r i o s i t y of the audience. The f i l m thereby m i r r o r s the p e r c e p t u a l process of the s p e c t a t o r to such a degree t h a t he b a r e l y n o t i c e s t h a t time and space are being fragmented, because he i s concerned with the r e l a t i o n s h i p s between events not with the i n t r i n s i c v a lue of the events themselves. What i s presented as " r e a l i s m " i s merely a c o n v e n t i o n a l means, by which the filmmaker c o u l d s i m p l i f y ( f a l s i f y ) the c o m p l e x i t i e s of r e a l i t y . T h i s s t y l e of f i l m e d i t i n g makes the p s y c h o l o g i c a l needs and p e r c e p t i o n of the audience i t s f o c u s . The fragmentation of an event i s accepted as normal because extraneous d e t a i l i s cut out, while every shot i s c a r e f u l l y chosen and presented i n sequence to c o n t r i b u t e to the s t o r y . We as s p e c t a t o r s are faced with a c a u s a l world with every image and sound making up a l o g i c a l e x p r e s s i o n of " r e a l i t y . " S p e c t a t o r s r a r e l y watch an event with the d i s i n t e r e s t e d n e s s c o r r e s p o n d i n g t o the s i n g l e take, which a f t e r a l l , i s merely an e f f e c t i v e mechanical mold of the event. Instead, they see i t i n terms of i t s l o g i c a l , dramatic, or moral r a m i f i c a t i o n s . T h i s p s y c h o l o g i z i n g of events i s the very purpose of most f i l m s . They hope to g i v e us the i l l u s i o n o f b e ing at r e a l events u n r a v e l l i n g b e f o r e us as i n everyday r e a l i t y . But t h i s i l l u s i o n c o n c e a l s an e s s e n t i a l b i t of d e c e i t because r e a l i t y e x i s t s i n continuous space and the screen presents us i n f a c t with a s u c c e s s i o n of fragments c a l l e d " shots," the c h o i c e , o r d e r , and d u r a t i o n of which c o n s t i t u t e s e x a c t l y what we c a l l the "decoupage" of the f i l m . 22 I f we t r y , by an e f f o r t of a t t e n t i o n , to p e r c e i v e the breaks imposed by the camera on the continuous development of the r e p r e s e n t e d event, and t r y to understand why we are n a t u r a l l y i n s e n s i b l e (to these breaks) we understand w e l l enough t h a t we t o l e r a t e them because they g i v e us the impression a l l the same of a continuous homogeneous r e a l i t y . The i n s e r t i o n of a d o o r b e l l i n closeup i s accepted by the mind as i f t h i s were nothi n g other than a c o n c e n t r a t i o n of our v i s i o n and i n t e r e s t on the d o o r b e l l , as i f the camera merely a n t i c i p a t e d the movement of our eyes.-* DECOUPAGE CLASSIQUE passed o f f a f a l s i f i e d r e a l i t y as a f a i t h f u l d u p l i c a t i o n of r e a l l i f e . T h i s f i l m i c s t y l e l u l l e d the audience i n t o p a s s i v e acceptance of a r h e t o r i c a l and f a l s e e x p r e s s i o n of r e a l i t y . By making the c i n e m a t i c world appear t o t a l l y n a t u r a l , as the "obvious" r e f l e c t i o n of human r e a l i t y , the audience i s not allowed to t h i n k about or q u e s t i o n what i s presented. T h e i r minds and senses being d u l l e d , o n l y asked to respond to the d i r e c t o r ' s f o r m u l a i c s t i m u l i , and not work of t h e i r own accord. DECOUPAGE CLASSIQUE takes away the audience's a b i l i t y and d e s i r e to p e r c e i v e on t h e i r own. While p s y c h o l o g i c a l montage may o r g a n i z e o b j e c t s as we are i n the h a b i t of o r g a n i z i n g them, i t r u l e s out the freedom which i s at the base of our power to o r g a n i z e and the autonomy of the o b j e c t s which e x i s t f o r o t h e r o r g a n i z a t i o n s as w e l l . " C l a s s i c a l e d i t i n g t o t a l l y suppresses t h i s k i n d of r e c i p r o c a l freedom between us and the o b j e c t . I t s u b s t i t u t e s f o r a f r e e o r g a n i z a t i o n , a f o r c e d b r e a k i n g down where the l o g i c of the shots c o n t r o l l e d by the r e p o r t i n g of the a c t i o n a n e s t h e t i z e s our freedom completely."(Orson Welles, p. 58) There i s , then a deeper p s y c h o l o g i c a l r e a l i t y , which must be preserved i n r e a l i s t i c cinema: the freedom of the s p e c t a t o r to choose h i s own i n t e r p r e t a t i o n of the o b j e c t or e v e n t . 6 In c r e a t i n g Marienbad, R o b b e - G r i l l e t and Resnais wanted to 23 expose the f i l m medium as a s l a v e to a r h e t o r i c which was no more " r e a l i s t i c " than o t h e r p o s s i b l e means. Rather than a f i l m which p r e s e n t s a f a l s e r e a l i t y as r e a l , Marienbad u n d e r l i n e s and exposes the f a l s e n e s s of i t s r e a l i t y . Marienbad r e f u s e s a p r o g r e s s i o n a c c o r d i n g to c o n v e n t i o n a l cinematographic n a r r a t i v e d i s c o u r s e . Instead i t i s l i n k e d i n a seemingly haphasard manner which r a t h e r than hide i t s decoupage, h i g h l i g h t s i t s r u p t u r i n g disconnectedness, to remind us of i t s " f i l m i c " n a t u r e . R o b b e - G r i l l e t wanted to c h a l l e n g e the audience to p a r t i c i p a t e and p e r c e i v e a c t i v e l y ; to q u e s t i o n the medium which had h i t h e r t o d i c t a t e d " r e a l i t y " to them. In o r d e r to prevent the viewer's mind from r e l y i n g on i t s normal mode of p e r c e p t i o n , Resnais v i o l a t e s almost every convention of film-making, but he does i t so smoothly t h a t the viewer has the i l l u s i o n of f o l l o w i n g conventions which have i n f a c t been completely r e v e r s e d i n t h e i r f u n c t i o n . The s i m p l e s t d e s c r i p t i o n of the f i l m i s to say t h a t i t i s a s u c c e s s i o n o f f a u x - r a c c o r d s , t h a t i s to say, matches which are not i n c o n t i n u i t y because they connect segments of space and time which cannot l o g i c a l l y be connected. The purpose o f t h i s ' s t y l i s t i c d e v i c e i s to a l t e r our normal p e r c e p t i o n of space and time and to f a c i l i t a t e the constant s h i f t of the n a r r a t i v e viewpoint i n the f i l m . Except f o r three sequences of f a s t c u t t i n g , i t c o u l d be demonstrated t h a t no s u c c e s s i o n of two or more shots i s s p a t i a l l y , t e m porally or d r a m a t i c a l l y l i n k e d . Yet, Resnais has managed to give an o r g a n i c coherence to the f i l m and y e t each shot remains autonomous.? In a B r e c h t i a n sense of t h e a t r i c a l i t y the c r e a t o r s of Marienbad want the audience to always be aware of the medium: f i l m . Brecht i n s i s t e d t h a t h i s audience maintain a consciousness of the " v e h i c l e " ( i n h i s case the s t a g e ) . To t h a t end, he worked out the theory 24 of the Verfremdungs e f f e k t (the "estrangement e f f e c t " ) . "The o b j e c t of t h i s ' e f f e c t , '" he wrote, " i s to a l l o w the s p e c t a t o r to c r i t i c i z e c o n s t r u c t i v e l y from a s o c i a l p o i n t of view." Consciousness of the v e h i c l e not o n l y allows but demands the p a r t i c i p a t i o n of the viewer i n a c o n t i n u a l process of a n a l y s i s of the images, sounds, and o t h e r phenomena with which he i s confronted.8 R o b b e - G r i l l e t : Yes, of course, but what d i s t i n g u i s h e s Marienbad, and may prove r a t h e r d i s c o n c e r t i n g , i s simply the g e n e r a l use of these d e v i c e s . They are not d i s g u i s e d as e x c e p t i o n s to a r u l e , but as a c o n s i s t e n t s t y l e of t h i n k i n g , completely compatible w i t h r e a l i s m — perhaps more r e a l i s t i c . When we say t h a t what goes on i n our minds i s j u s t as r e a l as what goes on i n f r o n t of our eyes, we are l a y i n g the foundations f o r a c i n e m a t i c s t y l e which can switch to and from between the t h i n g s around us, l i k e t h i s t a p e - r e c o r d e r , and the s u b j e c t of our c o n v e r s a t i o n , and i n c l u d e images more or l e s s i n t e r m e d i a r y between the scene around us, your thoughts, my thoughts, and so on. Such a f i l m s t i l l employs conventions, but would be r a t h e r more r e a l i s t i c than the convention of s y s t e m a t i c a l l y r e s t r i c t i n g o n e s e l f to any one category of r e a l i t y . ^ Marienbad presents i t s own v e r s i o n of r e a l i t y which c h a l l e n g e s the r e a l i t y of DECOUPAGE CLASSIQUE. I t i s an attempt to renovate c i n e m a t i c r e a l i t y . With t h i s trucage i n which X and M are so c l e v e r l y moved around as though they were o b j e c t s r a t h e r than people, we see c l e a r l y t h a t the d i r e c t o r i s p l a y i n g w i t h f i l m i c space. The camera which we expect to present r e a l i t y i n a r e c o g n i z a b l e , s t e r o t y p i c a l f a s h i o n , here r e f u s e s to do so. Resnais and R o b b e - G r i l l e t want us to be a l e r t and watch every change the camera and soundtrack make. F i l m can l i e : i t doesn't always t r e a t i t s s u b j e c t e q u a l l y ; i n f a c t what we so r e a d i l y accept as " r e a l " i n a Hollywood movie i s e q u a l l y TRUCAGE. I t i s o n l y 25 the f a c t t h a t we have decided to accept i t s r u l e s , t h a t allows us to f e e l i t s " r e a l i t y . " I t i s a convention l i k e any other i n any s c h o o l of "Realism." We i n n o c e n t l y assume t h a t f i l m s p resent the world as coherent, l o g i c a l and understandable. But the Marienbad v i s i o n i s e n t i r e l y the o p p o s i t e : i n c o h e r e n t and undecipherable. Our hopes t h a t we w i l l f i n d a s t o r y r e f l e c t i n g our " r e a l " world are de s t r o y e d . M: Non pas maintenant ... Je vous propose un aut r e jeu p l u t o t : j e connais un jeu auquel j e gagne t o u j o u r s . . . X: S i vous ne pouvez pas perdre, ce n'est pas un j e u ! M: Je peux perdre ... mais j e gagne t o u j o u r s . X: Essayons. K M: (e*talant l e s c a r t e s devant X) C e l a se joue a deux. Les c a r t e s sont disposees comme c e c i . Sept. Cinq. T r o i s . Une. Chacun des joueurs ramasse des c a r t e s , a t o u r de r o l e , autant de c a r t e s q u 1 i l veut, a c o n d i t i o n de n'en prendre que dans une seule rangee a chaque f o i s . C e l u i q u i ramasse l a d e r n i e r e c a r t e a perdu... (p. 45) A game i n t r o d u c e d i n t o t h i s l u d i c f i l m tempts our c u r i o s i t y . How can a game be a game when one person always wins? Is M so s k i l l f u l at t h i s game or i s he merely bragging? The f a c t t h a t o p p o s i t e s ( l i f e / d e a t h , past/present) have been presented on the screen as " n a t u r a l l y " f i t t i n g t o g e t h e r , has prepared us f o r a more ready, y e t s t i l l uneasy, acceptance of t h i s apparent c o n t r a d i c t i o n . We are at once shocked and not s u r p r i s e d to hear o f t h i s u n l i k e l y i m p o s s i b i l i t y . The f a c t t h a t the l o s e r i s the one who p i c k s up the l a s t c a r d i s a l s o a r e v e r s a l of t y p i c a l game r u l e s a c c o r d i n g t o which the winner u s u a l l y i s the one who wins cards r a t h e r than l o s e s them. Here 26 the o b j e c t of the game i s to take away cards r a t h e r than to amass them. Why' does M want to p l a y a game at which he i s so s k i l l f u l ? Or does he r i g i t and t h e r e f o r e know a l l i t s t r i c k s ? But who among us would g i v e up p l a y i n g any game e s p e c i a l l y i f we had become masters at i t ? M might want t o demonstrate h i s s u p e r i o r i t y over X or ot h e r s by p l a y i n g t h i s game; but to what end? What i s overwhelmingly a p p e a l i n g about t h i s game, the Nim game; i s i t s "apparent" s i m p l i c i t y . I t seems so easy t o p l a y — e s p e c i a l l y to the u n i n i t i a t e d — i n the same way t h a t T i c - t a c - t o e i s "easy." A l l i t takes i s some thought! In the p l a y i n g o f the game, M watches X c l o s e l y and seems to p i c k up h i s cards without thought, whereas X pauses b e f o r e each move, paying c l o s e a t t e n t i o n to the game. The Nim game may be a source of power or b i z a r r e s o c i a l i n t e r a c t i o n f o r M, while to X i t s t i l l i s pla y e d as a game. M appears to be i n c o n t r o l , s i n c e he wins the game e f f o r t l e s s l y , j u s t as he s a i d he would, whereas X seems t o s t r u g g l e . Why i s M so c e r t a i n about h i s winning; s u r e l y t h i s must be r i g g e d ! As they f i n i s h the game they eye each o t h e r menacingly; i s M the e v i l one or X? E v i l and "the s i n i s t e r " pervade the a i r . In the context of Marienbad the Nim game i s but another sma l l p u z z l e t o analyze, which we hope w i l l g i v e us g r e a t e r understanding and the power t o i n t e r p r e t the meaning of the whole. The s e r i o u s n e s s with which both X and M p l a y and the clo s e - u p of the l a s t c a r d remaining on the t a b l e emanate meaning. I I r e s t e l a c a r t e i s o l e e ; comme to u t e s l e s c a r t e s ont et4 e t a l e s montrant l e u r dos, on ne v o i t pas 27 non p l u s q u e l l e e s t c e t t e c a r t e - c i . Pourtant l a camera s' e s t rapprochee de l a t a b l e au cours du jeu comme s i e l l e a v a i t une s i g n i f i c a t i o n . (p. 46) Resnais chose to e m b e l l i s h t h i s d e s c r i p t i o n by f o c u s i n g on a t a b l e showing an odd u n i d e n t i f i a b l e c a r d with f o u r t e e n marks on i t face up, w i t h the r e f l e c t i o n of M and X on e i t h e r s i d e framed by the t a b l e . The game as focussed through t h i s image i s s e l f - c o n s c i o u s l y abundant with meaning. Yet i t i s a q u e s t i o n of how much importance we choose to g i v e i t . Could we accept an image which r e a l l y had no meaning, as merely an event i n a sequence? The problem (or the issue) i s t h a t because of the frame of the screen we as an audience expect to understand and be e l u c i d a t e d by " A r t . " Once a d e t a i l — no matter how s m a l l — appears as a f i l m i c u n i t , i t can be judged to be meaningful by the s p e c t a t o r i n h i s r o l e as " c r i t i c . " What i s i n t e r e s t i n g i s t h a t Marienbad, which u n t i l now p r e s e n t s such an " u n r e a l " world, i m p l i e s and demands meaning simply because o f i t s d i f f e r e n c e from Hollywood f i l m s . I f we cannot r e a d i l y comprehend an a c t i o n or d i a l o g u e . i n a f i l m , we presume t h a t i t must have some g r e a t e r meaning. We must be able to i n t e r p r e t and e x p l a i n i t or what i s the purpose of "Art"? But i f we were to look at a " r e a l i s t i c " movie such as Gone With the Wind, we would s u r e l y not be i n such a quandry to d i s c o v e r the meaning of the c o l o u r of S c a r l e t O'Hara's h a i r . When faced with such an " u n r e a l i s t i c " and d i f f i c u l t movie as Marienbad, we f e e l t h a t there must be great hidden or i m p l i e d meaning to be a t t a c h e d to p a r t s which we do not understand. We 28 are a f r a i d of being f o r c e d i n t o a p o s i t i o n of unknowing, where a l l we can do i s q u e s t i o n . Marienbad i s c a r e f u l l y c o n s t r u c t e d so as to o f f e r hope o f understanding, while at the same time f r u s t r a t i n g and c o m p l i c a t i n g t h a t very search f o r meaning. R e s n a i s / R o b b e - G r i l l e t are w e l l aware of our d e s i r e f o r understanding a f i l m , a d e s i r e which they tease and e x p l o i t i n every scene. What i f the Nim game had no meaning but was e x a c t l y what i t i s on the screen: a game? What i s the meaning of a poker game or Canasta? Are they not p l a y e d f o r the sheer fun o f p l a y i n g ? Could Marienbad i t s e l f then be a f i l m p l a y i n g with meaning? We see a shot of a woman glimpsed here and there i n the p r e c e d i n g shots of these f i r s t twenty minutes, as we hear X's A A v o i c e . "Vous etes t o u j o u r s l a meme. J ' a i 1'impression de vous a v o i r q u i t t e e h i e r . " The camera remains f i x e d on her as she holds her head to one s i d e as though she were l i s t e n i n g , w h i le we- hear the v o i c e s of the young couple once more. From what we hear, X appears to be a d d r e s s i n g a woman. Is she the same one whom we see on the screen or another? From the romantic and pensive f a s h i o n by which X makes t h i s d e c l a r a t i o n , we suppose he has met t h i s woman once ag a i n . We are on the verge of the b e g i n n i n g o f our s t o r y — s u r e l y we w i l l soon meet t h i s woman; the o b j e c t of h i s comments. Voix d'homme: Qu'etes-vous devenue depuis t o u t ce temps? Voix de jeune femme: Rien, vous. voyez, puisque j e s u i s t o u j o u r s l a meme. Voix d'homme: Vous n'e^tes pas mariee? 29 We come back to our most r e a l i s t i c people i n the f i l m . The echo o f "to u j o u r s l a mtme" between X's words and t h i s man's i s i r o n i c . We c o u l d b e l i e v e e i t h e r X or t h i s man say i n g t h i s phrase j u s t once but the dedoublement makes the phrase seem l e s s s i n c e r e , o r e l s e a parody of such words. The phrase c o u l d be s a i d t o or about anyone — with the person thus d e s c r i b e d e i t h e r a g r e e i n g or d i s a g r e e i n g . I t shows a s u b j e c t i v e impression, one on the p a r t o f X, the othe r on the p a r t of t h i s young woman. The statement of being " t o u j o u r s l a merae" i s a very s u b j e c t i v e judgement by the e v a l u a t o r , and i s a c t u a l l y a hard statement to prove. Yet i t i s so o f t e n and e a s i l y s a i d by' many people. I t a l l depends on one's p o i n t of view. Jeune Femme: Non, non! Homme: Vous avez t o r t , c ' e s t t r e s amusant. Jeune Femme: J'aime l a l i b e r t e . Homme: I c i par exemple? Jeune Femme: Pourquoi pas i c i ? Homme: C'est un d r o l e d ' e n d r o i t . Jeune Femme: Vous voulez d i r e pour £tre l i b r e ? Homme: Pour e t r e l i b r e , o u i , en p a r t i c u l i e r . Jeune Femme: Vous etes t o u j o u r s a u s s i . . . (p. 47) The i d e a of freedom appears e q u a l l y absurd t o us, the sp e c t a t o r s as i t does t o t h i s young woman's companion. As i s usua l i n Marienbad, the begin n i n g o f the c o n v e r s a t i o n i s not r e l a y e d to us. But the ideas of freedom i n t h i s h o t e l i s questioned. I f one were to apply t h i s phrase to the movie i t s e l f , c o u l d n ' t one accept these c o n t r a d i c t i o n s as an index of the Marienbad world? On the one hand, the a r c h i t e c t u r e of the chateau i s r i g i d , heavy and o l d , which along with the s t u f f y 30 u p p e r - c l a s s c h a r a c t e r s imply T r a d i t i o n . Yet the way i n which we have experienced t h i s world through the duping of our eyes and ears has been anything but t r a d i t i o n a l or c o n v e n t i o n a l . We have yet to meet the p r o t a g o n i s t s a f t e r twenty minutes of viewing time. The f i l m keeps p l a y i n g w i t h our sense of c a u s a l i t y and l o g i c as w e l l as our senses, as we move i n and out of u n r e a l and r e a l worlds. The c r e a t o r s of Marienbad have c e r t a i n l y d i s c a r d e d c o n v e n t i o n a l " r e a l i s m " f o r t h e i r own e x p r e s s i o n on f i l m . We seem to be as f r e e i n i n t e r p r e t i n g an open work which o f f e r s many meanings to every f a c e t of the f i l m as they have been i n c r e a t i n g t h i s non-conventional f i l m . I t i s indeed a " d r o l e d ' e n d r o i t pour f^tre l i b r e , " f o r we a s s o c i a t e freedom with our r e a l world and everyday l i f e . Our sense of shock and misapprehension as one " r i g g e d scene" a f t e r another f r u s t r a t e s and confuses us, r e v e a l s us to be o v e r l y dependent on t r a d i t i o n a l f i l m r h e t o r i c . We are not f r e e to accept a novel change i n f i l m i c form, s i n c e we are f i r m l y bound to c o n v e n t i o n a l f i l m r u l e s . What R o b b e - G r i l l e t and Resnais have done i s to loosen these binds and r e t u r n t o f i l m i t s r a d i c a l c r e a t i v i t y , not only to the s t o r y to be t o l d , but a l s o to the manner of i t s t e l l i n g . They have r e c r e a t e d f i l m by f r e e i n g i t s form o f e x p r e s s i o n i n order to express b e t t e r the f i l m ' s v i s i o n . "X: Vous 'etes t o u j o u r s a u s s i b e l l e " (p. 48). We are shown two shots of A: i n one she i s sta n d i n g s t i l l i n a statuesque manner, i n the other she i s t u r n i n g around. The connection between X and A i s a t l a s t (yet not d e f i n i t i v e l y ) made. S u r e l y t h i s must be the woman of whom he i s t h i n k i n g , i f not l o o k i n g a t . 31 Why e l s e would we keep s e e i n g her i n close-up? We are again made to r e a l i z e the d e l i b e r a t e d i s c o n t i n u i t y of t h i s f i l m : we see A from one angle and then another. Since these two shots belong to two a p p a r e n t l y d i f f e r e n t timeframes (as the c l o t h e s and l i g h t i n g have d r a s t i c a l l y changed), we are robbed of a f e e l i n g of p s y c h o l o g i c a l c o n t i n u i t y . In t h i s f i l m , shots are o f t e n connected not by chronology but by r e l a t e d s u b j e c t matter. The p i c t u r e s we are shown do not f i t together i n time: we are not encouraged t o b e l i e v e t h a t the f i l m i s p r e s e n t i n g a continuous r e a l i t y . The f i l m once again exposes i t s e l f as f i l m . One might imagine t h i s t o be X seein g her i n h i s mind's eye, or seeing her there i n f r o n t o f him at t h i s h o t e l and t h i n k i n g of how she looked at another time. Does she y e t see him? There i s no connec t i o n y e t made wit h both o f them i n the same shot. There f o l l o w s a s e r i e s of f i v e shots: 1-2)Hotel guests s l o w l y ascending and descending s t a i r c a s e . (2 shots) 3) A game of checkers. 4) A B a l u s t r a d e which o v e r l o o k s a garden; no music. 5) E e r i e music p l a y s throughout except d u r i n g shot #4. These p i c t u r e s f l a s h at us, r e t u r n i n g us t o our sense of the e e r i n e s s and menace of the Marienbad world. The game of chess i s p a r t i c u l a r l y " d e c o r a t i v e . " I t i s as though people and Objects were a l l p a r t of the same decor; they are p a r t of one v i s i o n : Marienbad. We see two a p p a r e n t l y r e a l men p l a y i n g checkers a g a i n s t an o b v i o u s l y p a i n t e d facade which appears 32 e n d l e s s . The animate and inanimate worlds combine here as one complete a e s t h e t i c p i c t u r e . The emphasis on b l a c k and white i n the facade c o u l d be taken as a comment on the c o e x i s t e n c e of r e a l i t y / t h e a t r i c a l i t y i n Marienbad. A l l i s i n p e r f e c t p r o p o r t i o n by c a r e f u l d e s i g n . R o b b e - G r i l l e t had intended to use sound i n s t e a d of music to expand our sense o f the u n r e a l i n t h i s scene, as the s c r i p t i n d i c a t e s . Au cours de ces images, e t sans r a p p o r t avec ce q u ' e l l e s r e p r e s e n t e n t , on entend, disseiMnes sans r a i s o n s c a u s a l e s apparentes, s o i t a un changement de p l a n , s o i t au beau m i l i e u d'un p l a n , un c e r t a i n nombre de b r u i t s i r r i t a n t s , t e l s que sonneries e l e c t r i q u e s , b r u i t s de p o r t e s mecaniques, timbres d'appel, e t c . , q u i tous d o i v e n t a. l a f o i s re"sonner de facon i n s o l i t e e t pouvoir se j u s t i f i e r sur l e p l a n de l a vraisemblance: ce sont des b r u i t s que l ' o n peut en e f f e t entendre dans un h o t e l . En o u t r e i l s d o i v e n t "etre a l a f o i s t r e s nets e t comme f e u t r e s , amortis par l e s t a p i s , e t c . I l s d o i v e n t e n f i n se detacher sur un fond de s i l e n c e , ou i l s n'occupent que des temps t r e s b r e f s . (pp. 48-49) T h i s might have been even more e f f e c t i v e as a d e s t a b i l i z e r of our sense of the r e a l , due to the f a c t t h a t n o i s e s which at f i r s t sounded strange, would have been r e v e a l e d to be p a r t of the normal n o i s e s i n a h o t e l . What at f i r s t would have seemed out of p l a c e would soon have been r e a l i z e d by us to be p r e c i s e l y a p p r o p r i a t e f o r t h i s p l a c e : a h o t e l . We would have been u n s e t t l e d by the f a c t t h a t we o u r s e l v e s d i s c o v e r e d t h a t what a t f i r s t appears to be u n r e a l i s a c t u a l l y very r e a l and e n t i r e l y a p p r o p r i a t e . I t r e a l l y depends on one's p o i n t of view. Marienbad s e t s out to r e v e a l the u n r e a l i t y and apparent strangeness of r e a l i t y 33 which we b e l i e v e to understand, know and c o n t r o l so w e l l . Our uneasiness p o t e n t i a l l y awakened by such a sequence coaxes us to be not so c e r t a i n of our own r e a l i t y . What appears to be so understandable as the r e a l i t y which surrounds us, may be as u n r e l i a b l e as our senses prove to be when we experience t h i s movie. A i s presented i n an empty h a l l as we hear the v o i c e of X: "Mais vous ne semblez guere vous s o u v e n i r . " The d e l i g h t f u l ambiguity of the phrase i s overwhelming. She doesn't seem to remember; but perhaps she does; c o u l d i t be X's p e r s p e c t i v e which i s obscured? What should she remember? Through these words she seems so h e a r t l e s s ; and he so d e s e r v i n g of her a t t e n t i o n . (How c o u l d she have f o r g o t t e n ? ) Maybe she does remember — she j u s t hasn't i n d i c a t e d i t y e t . La camera se raproche d'un d e t a i l d e c o r a t i f de l a d e r n i e r e image. Autant que p o s s i b l e un d e t a i l extremement charge' en baroque et s i t u e au-dessus des te'tes de personnes debouts ... l a v o i x de X e s t t o u j o u r s c e t t e b e l l e v o i x , neutre e t p r e c i s e ... Voix de X: Pourtant vous connaissez deja ces ornements baroques, ces l i n t e a u x decores, ces rinceaux, c e t t e main de stuc q u i t i e n t une grappe ... L 1 index tendu semble r e t e n i r un r a i s i n pre*t a se detacher ... D e r r i e r e l a main, vous apercevez des f e u i l l a g e s ... comme des f e u i l l a g e s v i v a n t s , d'un j a r d i n q u i nous a t t e n d r a i t . (pp. 50-51) Once agai n we are back watching a commentary on an a r t f i l m . We are f i r s t , shown the c e i l i n g and then we hear X's v o i c e ; we have r e t u r n e d to the beg i n n i n g of the f i l m . The i l l u s i o n of r e a l i t y i s the h i g h e s t achievement of baroque a r t . Here a hand holds a l i f e - l i k e bunch of grapes, behind which seemingly l i v i n g l e a ves beckon us. T h i s "us" c o n t a i n s a l l of the s p e c t a t o r s , the 34 man who i s speaking (X) as w e l l as the guests who are l i s t e n i n g ^ although we haven't y e t seen the people i n t h i s scene^ s i n c e we are s t i l l g a zing a t the c e i l i n g . The n o t i o n of the garden brought f o r t h by t h i s d e s c r i p t i o n r e f e r s back i n time to the pl a y and the p i c t u r e of the garden. The use of the c o n d i t i o n a l : "comme ... un j a r d i n q u i nous a t t e n d r a i t " emphasizes the temptation of b e l i e v i n g t h a t a r t ; e i t h e r f i l m (DECOUPAGE CLASSIQUE) or baroque s c u l p t u r e i s as r e a l as our r e a l world. Or perhaps both a r t and the r e a l world are e q u a l l y as u n f i x e d and e l u s i v e . At the same time i t p o e t i c a l l y and r o m a n t i c a l l y seduces the l i s t e n e r s , A and us^ as a s p e c i a l i n v i t a t i o n t o get l o s t i n the v e r i s i m i l i t u d e of a r t . I t c o u l d w e l l be the motto of Marienbad: "comme un monde q u i nous a t t e n d r a i t . . . " The camera pans down from the c e i l i n g and i t i s r e v e a l e d t h a t X i s t a l k i n g t o A surrounded by a small group of l i s t e n e r s . X: "N 1avez-vous jamais remarque t o u t c e l a ? " / A: "Je n'avais jamais eu d ' a u s s i bon guide." At l a s t we meet A and X to g e t h e r . Although t h i s a r t commentary scene has been presented i n a continuous present, we wonder i f i t i s i n the pa s t . (As a flash-back?) For the i d e a of "jamais" i m p l i e s t h a t t h i s i s the f i r s t time t h a t they ever met. We must accept the f a c t t h a t t h i s movie (as a l l movies) i s c a r e f u l l y c o n s t r u c t e d so as to r e v e a l and c o n c e a l a t w i l l . We are meant t o n o t i c e and look c l o s e l y at a r t , but the camera and the soundtrack w i l l continue to mold our view and to guide us. T h i s i s a l s o an i n t i m a t e / b a n a l compliment. Only you (X) c o u l d show me (us) the meanings of a r t and e x p l a i n i t s v a l u e . 35 Someone says to A:"Vous connaissez l e proverbe: de l a boussole au n a v i r e . . .'' (p. 52). A proverb, i n t r o d u c e d as such, i s f u l l of "great" meaning. The guests present i n the f i l m a l l laugh knowingly at t h i s s a y i n g . Yet what does i t mean? I t i s a comment about g u i d i n g s h i p s : A compass can guide you i n the r i g h t d i r e c t i o n . Is X t h i s a c c u r a t e guide? We f e e l as though t h i s proverb may a l s o be as c l e a r an i n d i c a t i o n of our journey and i t s meaning. Even w i t h i n our c e r t a i n t y , we c o u l d not say what i t means. R o b b e - G r i l l e t has admitted t h a t he invented t h i s proverb, which he mentions i n the i n t e r v i e w by Labarthe and R i v e t t e i n Cinema '61: R o b b e - G r i l l e t : Oui s i vous-voulez. J ' a i i n v e n t e une m o i t i e de proverbe. Encore une f o i s on n'a r i e n cache a personne. A q u o i bon i n v e n t e r un proverbe e n t i e r quand on d o i t n'en conserver que l a premiere p a r t i e ? Evidemment a p a r t i r de ce demi-proverbe on peut imaginer beaucoup de choses. Resnais: I l n'est pas n e c e s s a i r e d'en c o n n a i t r e p l u s . D i t e s - c e l a dans un s a l o n , t o u t l e monde c o n n a i t r a l e proverbe. Personne ne demandera l a s u i t e . Je l e s a i s : j'en a i f a i t 1 * experience!10 T h i s f i l m l e a v e s many routes open f o r e x p l o r a t i o n . The i m a g i n a t i o n i s asked to p a r t i c i p a t e and perform along with t h a t of the a r t i s t s who c r e a t e d Marienbad. Even'a'small d e t a i l can open our minds to many hours of s p e c u l a t i o n . What Resnais' comment p o i n t s to i s the f a c t t h a t we so o f t e n f i l l i n the gaps between what we p e r c e i v e and what we t h i n k we should understand or see. Even when we judge what we see with our eyes we have to d e c i p h e r r e a l i t y not through our senses but a c c o r d i n g to p a s t e x p e r i e n c e . His example shows how the mind i s w i l l i n g to i n v e n t i n order to c r e a t e what i t t h i n k s i t 36 should understand. X: I l y a, i c i , beaucoup d'autres choses a v o i r , s i vous-voulez. "Changement b r u t a l . . . " [A and X are as c l o s e as they were i n the p r e v i o u s scene, but now they are dancing^] La premiere phrase que prononce A s'enchaine comme s ' i l s ' a g i s s a i t de l a meme co n v e r s a t i o n que sur l e p l a n pre'ce'dent. A: Avec p l a i s i r . Cet ft3tel c o n t i e n t - i l t a n t de s e c r e t s ? X: Enormement1 A: Quel a i r mysterieux! Pourquoi me regardez-vous a i n s i ? X: Vous semblez guere vous souvenir de moi. (p. 52) Once again we have a v i o l e n t trucage which jumps out at us. Here i t i s a q u e s t i o n of equating two d i f f e r e n t p l a c e s and moments i n time as happening c o n c u r r e n t l y . We have a l r e a d y experienced t h i s i n the a c t o r ' s monologue i n the p l a y . But t h i s i s the f i r s t time t h a t we- are i n v o l v e d with X and A i n a time jump. The f i l m i s one l a r g e trucage i n which e v e r y t h i n g appears and never i s one t h i n g f o r too l o n g . The s e c r e t s r e f e r r e d to i n t h i s chateau are enigmas f o r the audience as w e l l as those presented to A. We hear X's demand f o r r e c a l l i n A's memory. At l a s t we seem to have the b e g i n n i n g of a s t o r y ! We w i l l soon see what happened i n t h e i r p a s t . But why i s A so r e t i c e n t ; a v o i d i n g to acknowledge her acquaintance with him? pp. 53-57 Although a lengthy d e s c r i p t i o n f o l l o w s , the next scene takes about two minutes on the screen. We hear the lo u d t i c k i n g of a c l o c k as f o u r men take aim at t a r g e t s i n the shape of men, i n a s h o o t i n g g a l l e r y . We see a l t e r n a t i n g c l o s e - u p s of the men s h o o t i n g and the t a r g e t s as we hear the sound of b u l l e t s . We see a c l o s e - u p of X about to shoot but the scene i s cut b e f o r e 37 h i s gun detonates. T h i s scene i s haunting because o f i t s constant rhythm, the guns, the c l o c k and the a l t e r n a t i n g images of t a r g e t s and men. I t produces a somewhat calming e f f e c t as i t seems unconnected with the p r e v i o u s scenes, as w e l l as appearing to be very r e a l i s t i c . We cannot help but p u z z l e as to i t s o v e r a l l r e f e r e n c e to the r e s t o f the f i l m ; however, i t appears l e s s t h r e a t e n i n g than simply c u r i o u s due to i t s c o m p e l l i n g rhythm. S u r e l y t h i s s h o o t i n g i s o n l y one among the many r e c r e a t i o n s and games at which the i n h a b i t a n t s of t h i s h o t e l p l a y . Yet does X i n t e n d to k i l l someone whom he i s pursuing? Why do we not hear the d e t o n a t i o n o f h i s gun?"'"''" Here ends chapter one as i t appears to me to be an obvious break, due to the f a c t t h a t X and A have been i n t r o d u c e d as the p r o t a g o n i s t s of our s t o r y to come. We await the r e v e l a t i o n of what d i d happen l a s t year at Marienbad and why A i s so d i s t a n t w i t h regard to X. Who are these people? We want a complete s t o r y i n c l u d i n g t h e i r p e r s o n a l backgrounds. Why are they r e f e r r e d t o as A and X r a t h e r than by t h e i r names? 38 NOTES Chapter 1 1. Summary of the f i r s t 30 minutes of L'Annee D e r n i e r e a Marienbad pp. 23-56. A l l f o l l o w i n g quotes from t^ie t e x t are taken from A l a i n R o b b e - G r i l l e t , L'Annee D e r n i e r e a Marienbad ( P a r i s : Les E d i t i o n s de M i n u i t , 1961). 2. As viewers and c r i t i c s g rapple w i t h the meaning of Marienbad so much has been w r i t t e n about the r e l a t i o n s h i p between the p l a y ' s t i t l e "Rosmer" and a p l a y by Ibsen "Rosmerholm." The s t a g n a t i o n o f love and death by s u i c i d e i n Ibsen's work has been taken as evidence t h a t Resnais i n c l u d e d t h i s o b l i q u e r e f e r e n c e t o a s s o c i a t e Ibsen's dramatic world and the c i n e m a t i c world of Marienbad. However, nothi n g c o u l d be f u r t h e r from the t r u t h . Resnais chose t h i s name because he wanted "something as u n s p e c i f i c as p o s s i b l e and simply based on the name o f a c h i l d h o o d f r i e n d , Rosmer." What to many c r i t i c a l viewers imparted a deeper meaning to Marienbad was intended to be an empty s i g n i f i e r f o r the audience. G e o f f r e y Wagner, The Novel and the Cinema, (Cranbury, New J e r s e y : A s s o c i a t e d U n i v e r s i t y P resses, 1975), p. 283. 3. Two p i c t u r e s f a c i n g p. 32 i n the s c r i p t . 4. James Dudley Andrew, The Major F i l m T h e o r i e s : An I n t r o d u c t i o n (London, New York: Oxford U n i v e r s i t y P ress, 1976), p. 160. 5. • Andrew, p. 161. 6. What i s quoted by James Andrew comes from Andre B e z i n and Jean Cocteau, Orson Welles ( P a r i s : E d i t i o n s du Chavanne, 1950), p. 57. 7. B e r t r a n d Augst, as quoted.from an unpublished paper quoted i n Freddy Sweet, The F i l m N a r r a t i v e s of A l a i n Resnais, (Ann Arbor, Michigan: UMI Research Press, 1981), pp. 50-51. 8. James Monaco, The New Wave (New York: Oxford U n i v e r s i t y Press, 1976), pp. 129-130. 9. Harry M. Geduld, ed., F i l m Makers on F i l m Making (Bloomington: Indiana U n i v e r s i t y P r e s s , 1967), p. 166. 10. Andre S. Labarthe et Jacques R i v e t t e , . "Eni^retien avec Resnais et R o b b e - G r i l l e t , " C a h i e r s du Cinema, No. 123 (September, 1961), pp. 1-8. 11. The psychoanalyst Chasseguet-Smirgel sees the absence of sound as a s i g n o f X' s impotence. Janine Chasseguet-Smirgel, Pour une Psychoanalyse de l ' A r t et de l a C r ^ a t i v i t e , ( P a r i s : Payot, 1971), p. 131. 39 Chapter 2 In t h i s second of f o u r p a r t s the p u r s u i t of A by X begins i n e a r n e s t . X evokes the gardens of F r e d e r i c k s b a d where he assures her t h a t they met f o r the f i r s t time. X and M p l a y once more the Nim game at which X i n e v i t a b l y l o s e s . X mentions another time i n the same garden where they d i s c u s s e d a p a i r of s t a t u e s . To support h i s p o i n t , X shows A an a r t i s t ' s r e n d e r i n g of the garden c o n t a i n i n g the s t a t u e which M d e c l a r e s to be a r e p r e s e n t a t i o n of C h a r l e s I I I and h i s wife at a t r i a l o f t r e a s o n . X c o n t i n u e s to r e l a t e to A t h e i r shared p a s t as she l i s t e n s amusedly. Again X reminds her of another time when, amongst a group of acquaintances, he claims they exchanged words. He assures her of an i n c i d e n t when she broke one of the h e e l s of her shoe, and she d e c l i n e d h i s o f f e r of a s s i s t a n c e to r e t u r n to the chateau. The f i n a l scene i s i n a corner of a s a l o n where A and X stand beside a bar, as X r e c a l l s a n i g h t when he entered her bedroom. During h i s monologue we have a glimpse of her white room. She c r i e s out i n a shout of h o r r o r or r e c o g n i t i o n and drops her g l a s s to the f l o o r , c a u s i n g a scandal as s i l e n c e overtakes the room while a l l the dancers stop and s t a r e at her., (pp. 57-96) The camera shows a dark room i n which o n l y A i s v i s i b l e . As X r e l a t e s t h e i r f i r s t encounter the camera s t e a d i l y approaches A. Voix de X: La premiere f o i s que j e vous a i vue, c ' e t a i t dans l e s j a r d i n s de F r e d e r i k s b a d ... Vous e t i e z s e u l e , un peu a l ' e c a r t des a u t r e s , debout c o n t r e une b a l u s t r a d e de p i e r r e sur l a q u e l l e v o t r e main e*tait posee, l e bras a demi etendu... vous avez tourne l a t e t e . A: Je ne c r o i s pas q u ' i l s ' a g i s s e de moi. Vous devez vous tromper... 40 l a camera r e c u l e e t l ' o n decouvre que A n'est pas s e u l e : X se t i e n t "a* cote d ' e l l e ; d'autres gens se trouvent a u s s i pres d'eux... X: Rappelez-vous: i l y a v a i t , t o u t pr^s de nous, un groupe de p i e r r e . . . c'e'tait vous et moi, a u s s i b i e n . (pp. 57-58) What i s i n t r i g u i n g about the f i r s t scene i s the j u x t a p o s i t i o n between the o u t s i d e and the i n s i d e , between a garden which we must imagine i n our minds and a room which we watch on the screen. We are f o r c e d j u s t l i k e A to imagine i n our minds t h i s unseen garden. His tone of v o i c e as w e l l as h i s a t t e n t i o n to a p p a r e n t l y minor d e t a i l adds c r e d i b i l i t y t o the episode which X r e l a t e s . • The d e s c r i p t i o n of A i n which the p o s i t i o n of her hands as w e l l as her pose are evoked i s remarkably s i m i l a r to t h a t of a s t a t u e . Whenever we see A, she i s o f t e n i n the pose of a s t a t u e . T h i s i s both how X d e s c r i b e s her as w e l l as how the camera prese n t s her. Are we r e a l l y o n l y shown A through X's eyes? (For the most p a r t the camera shows A when X d i s c u s s e s her; however some scenes [ i . e . pp. 141-144] make no r e f e r e n c e to X.) Mais l e regard de X n'est nullement e x c l u s i f ou omnipresent: l a camera endosse souvent l e p o i n t de vue de A, r e e l ou i m a g i n a i r e , ou d'un personnage a c c e s s o i r e ( v o i r p. 42, par exemple), ou meme d'un personnage i n e x i s t a n t , place' a un e n d r o i t i m p o s s i b l e ( l o r s q u ' e l l e plane au-dessus de l a statue) > s Elle, S j'associe souvent aux personnages, r e p l a c e a cSte deux l e u r f a i t v i s - a - v i s , s'avance avec eux ou r e c u l e devant eux. L o i n de se l i m i t i r a l a r e g i e s t r i c t e d'une c a m e r a — o b s e r v a t r i c e se s u b s t i t u a n t a l ' o e i l humain R o b b e - G r i l l e t — e t Resnais avec l u i — deplace l ' o b j e c t i f a avec une grande l i b e r t e , mais c e t t e l i b e r t e e s t t o u j o u r s en accord avec l a s u b j e c t i v i t e f o n c i e r e de l ' o e u v r e . l 41 X's memory here c o n c e n t r a t e s on how people and t h i n g s are arranged i n space. Perhaps because when t h i n g s are d e s c r i b e d i n a s p a t i a l manner and w i t h such apparent assurance they appear to be " o b v i o u s l y " r e a l . How c o u l d anyone inv e n t a p i c t u r e which they d e s c r i b e to us d e t a i l by d e t a i l ? Such a d e s c r i p t i o n a l s o seems to be o b j e c t i v e by i t s r e f e r e n c e to o u t s i d e appearances. X's mention of the sound of h i s f o o t s t e p s on g r a v e l i s both i n c o n s e q u e n t i a l and important. I t i s a minor d e t a i l which adds a touch of " t r u t h " to the episode, because i t appears so n a t u r a l a p a r t of t h e i r meeting. The sound of g r a v e l i s repeated l a t e r on at d i f f e r e n t moments of a c t i o n i n Marienbad. A p o l i t e l y r e b u f f s X's s t o r y and we are i n c l i n e d to b e l i e v e , but X c o n t i n u e s h i s s t o r y . Why i s A so h e s i t a n t about her past? Who i s l y i n g and who i s t e l l i n g the t r u t h ? The camera can r e v e a l and c o n c e a l ; c r e a t i n g space at w i l l . I t moves back to r e v e a l t h a t X i s s t a n d i n g r i g h t next to A, which the soundtrack had i m p l i e d but the image had up u n t i l then denied. The seed i s p l a n t e d f o r a f u t u r e c o n v e r s a t i o n about t h i s "past" i n the garden of F r e d e r i c k s b a d where X met A and presumably t r i e d t o e x p l i c a t e a nameless st a t u e found t h e r e . Throughout the n a r r a t i n g of t h i s episode, we stay w i t h i n t h i s dark room of the chateau. At t h i s p o i n t A smiles and begins to laugh. X's comment u n i t e s the p r e s e n t moment wit h t h e i r remembered past meeting as he says, "J'aime — j ' a i m a i s d e j a — vous entendre r i r e . " X c o u l d be " i n n o c e n t l y " remembering the past, or he c o u l d be t r a n s p o s i n g her present a c t i o n i n t o the p a s t . I l o v e you l a u g h i n g now as you d i d b e f o r e . As he evokes the g e n e r a l q u a l i t y o f A's l a u g h t e r , t h i s adds a touch of the " p o e t i c " to X's l o v e . 4 2 Laughter i s presumably what anyone might o f t e n engage i n . I t sounds as though X knows A i n t i m a t e l y as he equates her l u a g h t e r from the present moment to the past, g i v i n g her the "nature" of one who laughs. A i s charming X w i t h her l a u g h t e r as she a p p a r e n t l y d i d i n the past a t F r e d e r i c k s b a d . I t i s a l s o i m p l i e d t h a t X has heard A laugh on more than one o c c a s s i o n . By being f l a t t e r e d i n the present moment about her l a u g h t e r , how c o u l d A deny t h a t she d i d indeed laugh at t h i s past meeting, and t h a t she i s indeed a laugher by nature? By the a d d i t i o n of an e x t r a verb tense (+ deja ) j a simple a c t i o n i n the p r e s e n t becomes a " t i m e l e s s " p a r t of A's nature, which adds proof to X's case of knowing and l o v i n g her i n the p a s t . Les a u t r e s autour de nous, s ' e t a i e n t rapproches. Quelqu'un a donne l e nom de l a s t a t u e ; c ' e t a i e n t des personnages mythologiques... (p.59) As these "others" are evoked from the past the camera passes through the dark room showing us groups of people t a l k i n g . We are again f o r c e d to equate t h i s group of people with the one i n the p a s t a t F r e d e r i c k s b a d . In f a c t , the o t h e r s do not come c l o s e r to the speaker, ("s'etaient rapproches") as they do a c c o r d i n g to X's d i a l o g u e ; r a t h e r i t i s the camera which moves towards them. In the c i r c l e which the camera covers as i t pans the room, X i s d i s p l a c e d t o a r r i v e i n an i m p o s s i b l e p o s i t i o n , while A a l s o appears i n an "incongruous" p o s i t i o n with regard to the p r e v i o u s shot, from a b a l u s t r a d e f a c i n g o u t s i d e . We are once more, though v i s u a l l y t h i s time, f o r c e d to equate the i n s i d e w i t h the o u t s i d e ; 43 f o r t h i s b a l u s t r a d e c o u l d be the b a l u s t r a d e from which A i s s a i d t o have observed the s t a t u e i n the garden. The cut from t h i s scene to the next i s e q u a l l y as d i z z y i n g as we hear a s e r i e s of numbers c a l l e d out; then the camera pans t o another room where a man p l a y s and l o s e s the Nim game as X looks on. At the end of the pr e v i o u s shot, X i s l o o k i n g up at A who i s on a balcony l o o k i n g o u t s i d e . As the shot i s cut to the next scene, X i s l o o k i n g i n the same d i r e c t i o n as i n the pr e v i o u s scene. I t i s as though he were sta n d i n g i n e x a c t l y the same room as the one i n which the game was played, which i s s p a t i a l l y i m p o s s i b l e , y e t v i s u a l l y p o s s i b l e on f i l m . We cannot f o r g e t t h a t the trucage i s important i n t h i s f i l m , not i t s v e r i s i m i l i t u d e . A c c o r d i n g to Hollywood DECOUPAGE, elements are cut to f o l l o w a p s y c h o l o g i c a l t r a i n of thought i n the minds of the s p e c t a t o r s ; the pretence o f " r e a l i t y " i s never abandoned. But i n Marienbad the shots are l i n k e d t o d i s t u r b our sense of s p a t i a l r e a l i t y . What i s l o g i c a l l y i m p o s s i b l e t o l i n k i s d e f i a n t l y and e a s i l y connected by f i l m i n Marienbad. I t i s a reminder t h a t f i l m i s one b i g trucage — i t i s always t r y i n g to order what i s onl y a r b i t r a r i l y a s s i g n e d an o r d e r . I t i s man's (or the a r t i s t ' s ) c o n c e p t i o n of order which imposes these c o n n e c t i o n s , as i n a l l f i l m s . The s i l e n c e which surrounds our c o n c e n t r a t i o n on the game i s r e f r e s h i n g a f t e r we have l o s t our way once again through a maze of d i s t o r t e d time by the image and the n a r r a t i v e . We watch the game and q u e s t i o n o u r s e l v e s : who i s t h i s M and why does he always win? X proposes the next game, saying "Et s i c ' e t a i t a vous de jouer l e premier?" (p. 6 3) . As we watch the game play e d and as X 44 l o s e s again, we hear: Et une f o i s de p l u s ge m'avancais, s e u l , l e long de ces meines c o u l o i r s , a t r a v e r s ces mê mes s a l l e s d e s e r t e s , j e l o n g e a i s ces memes colonnades, ces memes g a l e r i e s sans f e n e t r e s , j e f r a n c h i s s a i s ces meVes p o r t a i l s , c h o i s i s s a n t mon chemin comme au hasard parmi l e dedale des i t i n e r a i r e s semblables. (p. 64) R o b b e - G r i l l e t p l a y s d e l i c a t e l y with the c o n t i n u i n g mystery of the game. X and we the s p e c t a t o r s want to d i s c o v e r i t s r u l e s . Is the f i r s t p l a y e r always the winner? L o s i n g the game i s equated wit h X's search f o r the woman by t h i s r e t u r n to the "une f o i s de p l u s " monologue. Is M her husband or p r o t e c t o r who stands i n the way of X i n c o n v i n c i n g her of t h e i r shared p a s t and t h e i r i m p l i e d commitment to love? (Why e l s e would he be so obsessed with t h i s woman?) The id e a of a maze evokes the s p a t i a l c o n v o l u t i o n s which the camera and n a r r a t i v e have demonstrated, as w e l l as the paths of thought t h a t our minds are f o l l o w i n g to f i n d the key or the meaning o f Marienbad. The f i l m i t s e l f by i t s " f a u x - r a c c o r d s " seems to be p r e c i s e l y put together "comme au hasard"; however, i n f a c t , i t i s r e a l l y a c a r e f u l l y c o n s t r u c t e d p u z z l e with o n l y the appearance o f " l e hasard." Marienbad i s c o n s t r u c t e d l i k e a c a r e f u l l y thought out l a b y r i n t h f o r the mind to p l a y w i t h . The very essence o f a l a b y r i n t h i s t o cause one to l o s e the way; only with p a t i e n c e can one reach the c e n t r e . Though death may w e l l l i e a t i t s c e n t r e , we s t i l l want t o u n r a v e l the mystery of the maze, but do we want t o f r e e the minotaur? Does Marienbad even c o n t a i n a minotaur at i t s centre? S u i t e s de plans mobiles montrant des personnages f i x e s . Groupes de gens "a t r a v e r s 1 ' h o t e l , dans 45 d e s p o s t u r e s a r r e t e e s , m a i s s a n s c a r a c t e r e s u r n a t u r e l : i l s ne s o n t p a s e n t r a i n de b o u g e r , e t c ' e s t t o u t . . . l a c a m e r a s e d e p l a c e a u t o u r d ' e u x , t o u r n e , r e v i e n t e n a r r i e r e , comme a u t o u r de f i g u r e s d e c i r e d a n s u n m u s e e . C ' e s t p e u t - e t r e s e u l e m e n t l e s m o u v e m e n t s de l a c a r a l r a q u i d o n n e n t a l e u r i m m o b i l i t e u n a i r b i z a r r e . . . V o i x de X : E t une f o i s de p l u s t o u t e t a i t d e s e r t , d a n s c e t h o t e l i m m e n s e , t o u t e " t a i t v i d e . . . S a l o n s v i d e s . C o u l o i r s . S a l o n s . P o r t e s . P o r t e s . S a l o n s . C h a i s e s v i d e s , f a u t e u i l s p r o f o n d s . . . ( p . 64) O n c e a g a i n we f i n d c o n f l i c t b e t w e e n t h e i m a g e we s e e o n t h e s c r e e n a n d t h e w o r d s n a r r a t e d b y X . W h i c h , s o u n d t r a c k o r i m a g e , c o m m u n i c a t e s h i s t h o u g h t s t o u s ? C o u l d h i s t h o u g h t s b e t h e i n t e r i o r m o n o l o g u e w h i c h he r e c i t e s a s he w a n d e r s a b o u t t h e c h a t e a u ? I f he f e e l s u n c o n n e c t e d a n d c u t o f f f r o m t h e p e o p l e a n d t h e w o r l d , he m i g h t w e l l d w e l l o n t h e e m p t i n e s s o f t h e v a s t c h a t e a u i n t h i s m a n n e r . O r i s t h i s M a r i e n b a d - w o r l d b u t a f i c t i o n i n h i s m i n d a s he r e v i e w s h i s p a s t o r p r e s e n t l i f e ? T h e r e c i t a t i o n o f o b j e c t s b y X i s c h a r a c t e r i s t i c o f h i s m o n o l o g u e s . T h e y a r e b o t h c a l m i n g a n d d i s t u r b i n g due t o t h e i r v e r y b a n a l i t y . I t i s a s t h o u g h he w e r e r e p o r t i n g t h e o b j e c t s he s e e s i n a s u p p o s e d l y o b j e c t i v e m a n n e r w h i l e t h e c a m e r a p a s s e s t h r o u g h t h e m a i n l o b b y , b u t t h e v e r y a c t o f s u c h r e p o r t i n g i s a s u b j e c t i v e i n d i c a t i o n o f h i s s t a t e o f m i n d . He i s d i s t u r b e d , o b s e s s e d a n d h a u n t e d b y A w i t h i n t h i s M a r i e n b a d w o r l d t o w h i c h he seems i n c a p a b l e o f m a k i n g a n y c o n n e c t i o n . T h e w o r l d i s f u l l o f o b j e c t s a n d p e o p l e who a r e t u r n e d i n t o o b j e c t s , b e i n g o b s e r v e d a n d v i e w e d b y t h e c a m e r a , w i t h o u t t h e i r human q u a l i t i e s ( l i f e - l i k e q u a l i t i e s ) b e i n g e m p h a s i z e d . T h e y a r e j u s t p a r t o f t h e d e c o r : l i f e l e s s a n d s t i l l . The c a m e r a e n t e r s a n o t h e r r o o m w h e r e A i s s i t t i n g a l o n e 46 r e a d i n g . X's v o i c e accompanies the camera as i t c i r c l e s A who i s f r o z e n i n a statuesque p o s i t i o n . Un an deja — ou p e u t - e t r e p l u s . — Vous, du moins, n'avez pas change. Vous avez t o u j o u r s l e s memes yeux absents, l e meme s o u r i r e , l e meme r i r e t o u t a coup, l a meme facon d'etendre l e bras comme pour e c a r t e r quelque chose, un enfant, une branche, e t de ramener lentement l a main vers l e creux de v o t r e epaule ... et vous p o r t e z , a u s s i , l e meme parfum. (p.68) The c l o s e p r o x i m i t y of the camera to A accompanied by the pe r s o n a l tone of X's v o i c e produces an i l l u s i o n of int i m a c y . We b e l i e v e them to be co n v e r s i n g , y e t A i s observed by the camera and X i s no where i n s i g h t . T h i s view which the camera r e v e a l s to us may be e i t h e r from X h i m s e l f a t her s i d e , p h y s i c a l l y i n the room, o r i t may be a "view" from h i s mind's eye. We s t i l l do not f u l l y accept A's r e f u s a l of X's s t o r y . But she c o u l d e i t h e r have suppressed t h e i r meeting, or she c o u l d be pr e t e n d i n g not t o rec o g n i z e him. Her a c t i o n s and words i n response to X co u l d e a s i l y be the same, r e g a r d l e s s of which of these s i t u a t i o n s i s t r u e , o r even i n f a c t i f i t i s X who i s the d e c e i t f u l one. X by emphasizing her " i m m u t a b i l i t y " i m p l i e s a c e r t a i n intimacy w i t h her. But these l i n e s c o u l d be s a i d to anyone and they would be as b e l i e v a b l e . A's p h y s i c a l f e a t u r e s , eyes, l a u g h t e r and smiles c o u l d have been r e a d i l y observed upon t h i s meeting at t h i s chateau and transposed i n t o the past event. What adds l i f e t o the s t i l l statuesque p o s i t i o n i n which the camera holds A as i t c i r c l e s her, i s X's r e c a l l i n g the movement of her arm. An e x t e r i o r l i f e - f i l l e d world i s emphasized by mentioning a c h i l d or a branch. I t would seem t h a t X has seen A i n many d i f f e r e n t 47 s i t u a t i o n s , where she performed such "banal" movements. Having no v i s u a l r e f e r e n c e to these movements (except the s t a t i c pose of her arm h e l d upon her shoulder), such a statement condenses a great d e a l of l i f e i n t o one minor p a r t o f A. Such a banal d e s c r i p t i o n becomes b i z a r r e , because i t i m p l i e s an i n t i m a t e knowledge o f A and her past, which X has s c a r c e l y proven to us. The essence of a woman c o u l d be remembered by a man as her perfume. Such an emotional and amorous s i g n as perfume i s too r e a d i l y s o c i a l l y accepted as a p o s s i b l e s i g n of inti m a c y . Yet t h a t such a statement might mean no t h i n g i s e q u a l l y apparent. X continues to weave an ambiguous e v o c a t i o n of A. She i s s t i l l the same and y e t . . . Voix de X: Souvenez-vous. C ' e t a i t dans l e s j a r d i n s de F r e d e r i c k s b a d . . . La camera s 1 a r r e t e sur un personnage s o l i t a i r e , (A) une femme debout q u i s'appuie ^ une b a l u s t r a d e de p i e r r e . . . Vous e t i e z s e u l e , a 1 1 e c a r t . Vous vous t e n i e z , un peu de b i a i s , c o n t r e une b a l u s t r a d e de p i e r r e , sur l a q u e l l e v o t r e main £tait posee, l e bras "a demi ^tendu... La v o i x s ' a r r e t e . A ne se trouve pas dans l a pose indique'e par l e t e x t e que l'on entend... E l l e r e c t i f i e e n s u i t e l a posture [slowly] ... A ayant c o r r i g e sa p o s i t i o n , l a v o i x de X a u s s i t o t c o ntinue, comme s i e l l e n ' a t t e n d a i t que c e l a . (p. 69) What i s so remarkable about t h i s scene i s the slow u n f o l d i n g of the a c t i o n s d e s c r i b e d by the n a r r a t i v e , b e f o r e our very eyes i n the images. I t i s not a q u e s t i o n o f being d i s t u r b e d by simple c o n t r a d i c t i o n s w i t h i n one shot or sequence as i n the scenes t h a t we have observed where the past and present or l i f e and death e n i g m a t i c a l l y c o e x i s t . What i s d i s t u r b i n g here i s the i n i t i a l d i s c o r d ance between the t e x t and image, which i s slowly but 48 e v e n t u a l l y c o r r e c t e d . I t appears as though A were w i l l f u l l y r e s i s t i n g f o l l o w i n g X's d e s c r i p t i o n of her onl y to acquiesce i n the end. T h i s sequence i l l u s t r a t e s on f i l m what A i s doing mentally as she r e s i s t s acknowledging any of X's s t o r y . Yet u n l i k e her v e r b a l r e a c t i o n s t o X up to t h i s moment i n Marienbad, she does y i e l d to him and becomes the image which he d e s c r i b e s . Might t h i s i n d i c a t e an eve n t u a l acceptance by her of t h e i r shared past? What we d e s p e r a t e l y want t o know i s the b a s i s or reason f o r the d i s c r e p a n c y between the soundtrack and the images: which one i s t e l l i n g us the " t r u t h " ? We p a r t i c i p a t e i n the f i l m c r e a t i n g i t s e l f . A i n the image f o l l o w s X's i n s t r u c t i o n s as though she were an a c t r e s s he i s d i r e c t i n g . He c r e a t e s the s t o r y and she molds h e r s e l f t o f i t h i s d e s c r i p t i o n / p e r c e p t i o n of her. Could t h i s be a c l a s h between s u b j e c t i v i t i e s : h i s r e f l e c t e d i n the words, hers i n the image? X c r e a t e s an image of A which she r e f u s e s to accept but which she e v e n t u a l l y g i v e s in- t o . Or does t h i s disagreement occur i n X's own c r e a t i o n of t h i s scene? _ The b l a t a n t c l a s h between sound and image draws our a t t e n t i o n once again to the f a c t t h a t t h i s i s a f i l m which r e v e a l s i t s e l f as an e v o l v i n g a e s t h e t i c o b j e c t . Whether or not t h i s sequence i s a r e c a l l from memory or pure i n v e n t i o n on the p a r t of X, the process o f conveying i t would be the same — one of r e - c r e a t i o n . When one r e c a l l s a past event, some d e t a i l s are obscured while others are h i g h l i g h t e d . When we c o n s t r u c t the past, we o f t e n see, or d e s c r i b e as i f we were se e i n g , an image of 2 the past i n the pr e s e n t . Even i f we decide t h a t something was 49 wrong wit h our f i r s t impression of a past event, the image t h a t we a t f i r s t "saw" and d e s c r i b e d n e v e r t h e l e s s appears e q u a l l y as v a l i d because we imagined i t v i s u a l l y . Could t h i s d i s c o rdance not be a c i n e m a t i c example of a f a u l t y memory which X a c t u a l l y r e l a y s , or e l s e i n v e n t s ? As X c o n t i n u e s h i s s t o r y , he o f t e n c l a i m s ignorance about c e r t a i n d e t a i l s which c o u l d be important. T h i s " j e ne s a i s pas" c o u l d be h i s attempt at c r e a t i n g presumed ignorance, or a c t u a l f o r g e t t i n g . (One would expect a c e r t a i n amount of. f o r g e t t i n g i n anyone's memory. I f they had a p i c t u r e p e r f e c t view o f the past, t h e i r s t o r y might be more "suspect.") What t h i s image conveys as w e l l i s X's constant o b s e s s i o n w i t h A as a s t a t u e h e r s e l f . His p e r c e p t i o n of her may w e l l be f r o z e n i n the past; however, he r e f u s e s to accept t h i s , p r e f e r r i n g i n s t e a d to r e f e r t o a d i s t a n t shadow of her p r e s e n t s e l f . Je vous r e g a r d a i s . Vous ne f a i s i e z pas un geste. Je vous a i d i t que vous a v i e z l ' a i r v i v a n t e . (p. 70) I t i s as i f X were t a l k i n g to or about someone who had d i e d . Why wouldn't she look " a l i v e " ? T h i s banal comment evokes the b i z a r r e because the obvious i s over-emphasized. The s i m p l i c i t y of t h i s (evident) statement c a l l s i t s premise i n t o doubt. The image by i t s presence impresses upon us the " l i v i n g " q u a l i t y of i t s s u b j e c t ; y e t f o r us A i s j u s t an image, a s t a t u e and not a l i v i n g s u b j e c t a t a l l . However, she does appear as i f a l i v e : Voix de X: Pour d i r e quelque chose, j ' a i p a r l e de l a s t a t u e . Je vous a i raconte que l'homme v o u l a i t empecher l a jeune femme de s'avancer p l u s l o i n : i l 50 a v a i t apercu quelque chose — un danger sdrement — e t i l a r r e t a i t d'un geste sa compagne. Vous m'avez rlpondu que c'e'tait e l l e , p l u t o t , q u i semblait a v o i r vu quelque chose — mais une chose au contraire-_ m e r v e i l l e u s e — devant eux , q u ' e l l e designe de sa main tendue. Mais n ' e t a i t pas i n c o m p a t i b l e : . . . (p. 71) Here we have reached one of the apparent f o c i of Marienbad. The i d e a of a s t a t u e has been embodied to a l a r g e degree by A who stands i n a statuesque pose every time we get a glimpse of her. She i s c o n s t a n t l y being observed and d e s c r i b e d as a s t a t i c e n t i t y . I t would seem t h a t X sees her i n a way which i s t r a n s m i t t e d to us by the camera and h i s words. She may w e l l be t o t a l l y "other" than what he p e r c e i v e s , but we are seldom allowed to observe her by h e r s e l f , s i n c e she i s so o f t e n presented through the words of X. The a c t r e s s i n the p l a y a l s o holds a statuesque pose which g i v e s us the impression of an automaton, r a t h e r than t h a t of a l i v i n g human being. To a l e s s e r extent the other i n h a b i t a n t s of Marienbad as w e l l have d i s p l a y e d statuesque f e a t u r e s as the camera f r e e z e s them i n motion and then allows them to move again. ( c f . pp. 33-34 scenes a f t e r the p l a y as w e l l as p. 64: "La camera se deplace autour d'eux, tourne, r e v i e n t en a r r i e r e , comme autour de f i g u r e s de c i r e dans un rausee.") We are reminded of the o b j e c t i f i c a t i o n of people i n the mind of a s u b j e c t as w e l l as the o b j e c t i f i c a t i o n of a r t . X d e f i n e s A i n terms of what he sees and what he wants to see. We have on l y seen A i n the terms i n which X has been w i l l i n g t o d e s c r i b e her. In t r y i n g t o convince her of t h e i r shared past, X r e l a y s what he observed (or has r e c e n t l y observed) 51 of A from the o u t s i d e , r a t h e r than d e s c r i b e any p e r s o n a l d e t a i l s of her i n t e r i o r l i f e . T h i s would imply a connection which A would f i n d harder to r e f u t e . (Does t h i s imply t h a t X i s c r e a t i n g h i s s t o r y , or simply t h a t i t i s e a s i e r to d e s c r i b e a r e l a t i o n s h i p i n terms of past events and a c t i o n s , r a t h e r than through i n t i m a t e s e c r e t s ? ) Does t h i s a l s o imply t h a t X r e a l l y was not a l l t h a t c l o s e to A i n the past? or t h a t t h e y . d i d share the "adventure" which X d e s c r i b e s but t h a t the c o n n e c t i o n was r a t h e r shallow? In t h i s c l o s e - u p scene of the s t a t u e , we are l e d back to the mystery of a r t and our d e s i r e f o r i t s understanding and r e s o l u t i o n . Could t h i s s t a t u e p r o v i d e us w i t h the key to understand Marienbad and the r e l a t i o n s h i p between A and X? We add a l l the new elements t h a t are r e v e a l e d to the p u z z l e of Marienbad i t s e l f . On a s m a l l e r s c a l e , we are f o r c e d to a p p r e c i a t e the p o s s i b i l i t y o f a work of a r t being open to many d i f f e r e n t i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s . X p r e s e n t s h i s views a l o n g s i d e those of A's and concludes t h a t though they may be opposing, they c o u l d e a s i l y c o e x i s t and be p a r t of one s c e n a r i o . What i s a l s o emphasized i s the s u b j e c t i v e nature of one's reponses to a work of a r t . The i n t e r p r e t a t i o n which we choose over any o t h e r as being a p p r o p r i a t e or v a l i d r e v e a l s as much i f not more about o u r s e l v e s than about the i n t e r p r e t e d o b j e c t . X's i n t e r p r e t a t i o n of the male s t a t u e , i . e . t h a t he wants to p r o t e c t h i s companion, may w e l l be a r e f l e c t i o n of h i s own d e s i r e to p r o t e c t or manipulate A. His e x p l a n a t i o n p r e s e n t s a f e a r f u l l y p e s s i m i s t i c view of the world which opposes A's o p t i m i s t i c world of "emerveillement." However d e f i n i t e the statement of the s t a t u e may be to e i t h e r 52 X or A, s e e i n g t h e i r impressions r e l a t e d s i d e by s i d e , we can a p p r e c i a t e how a r b i t r a r y and ambiguous a work of a r t may be. I t i s the viewers who g i v e c o l o u r and meaning to a work of a r t , even perhaps c o n t r a r y to those intended by the a r t i s t who c r e a t e d i t . Or the r e a l i t y p e r c e i v e d by the viewer may be e q u a l l y ambiguous. Does X not i n t e r p r e t A's actions- and looks to be s i g n i f i c a n t ? How o f t e n i n our everyday l i v e s do two people d i s c u s s what another person i s l i k e , o n l y to come to e n t i r e l y d i f f e r e n t c o n c l u s i o n s about the i n d i v i d u a l , due to preconceived judgements and e v a l u a t i o n s which they themselves have a l r e a d y made? J u s t as X i n v e n t s a s t o r y to i n t e r p r e t the s t a t u e , we as viewers are asked to i n v e n t and c r e a t e a s t o r y to encompass Marienbad. On a s m a l l s c a l e t h i s may be p o s s i b l e , but the f i l m as a whole has too many si g n s o v e r l y pregnant with meaning to be f i x e d to one d e f i n i t i o n , or to embody onl y one meaning, f o r i t i s a v e r i t a b l e m u l t i t u d e of s i g n i f i c a n t meanings. To e m b e l l i s h t h i s scene, Resnais chose to a l l o w the camera some " l e g i t i m a t e " TRUCAGE to emphasize the s t o r y which X c r e a t e s around the s t a t u e . F i g u r a t i v e l y and p h y s i c a l l y : the camera c i r c l e s the s t a t u e and c r e a t e s out of the surrounding space the elements which X d e s c r i b e s . As he r e l a t e s the i d e a of the couple r e a c h i n g a c l i f f , we see a body of water which "comes from nowhere" to f i l l the s c r e e n : "mer, l e u r s p i e d s , jusqu'a l ' h o r i z o n " (p. 71). What i s meant by l e g i t i m a t e TRUCAGE i s the n o t i o n of the camera i l l u s t r a t i n g d e t a i l s which are e s s e n t i a l to the s t o r y t h a t the f i l m i s t e l l i n g . The f a c t t h a t they are s e l e c t e d and chosen by the d i r e c t o r , as advancing the p l o t and are presented 53 as being " n a t u r a l l y " e s s e n t i a l to the p l o t , i s an i n t e g r a l p a r t of a t y p i c a l n a r r a t i v e (Hollywood DECOUPAGE) f i l m . In Marienbad, Resnais and R o b b e - G r i l l e t , up to and u n t i l t h i s p o i n t , have e x p r e s s l y avoided such p s y c h o l o g i c a l connections as i t s s t o r y i s r e l a t e d . They have sought to expose such connections as being a f a l s i f i e d v e r s i o n of r e a l i t y , one only c r e a t e d through t r a d i t i o n and a d e s i r e to i n t e r p r e t the world. T h i s TRUCAGE i s f a l s e because i t i m p l i e s t h a t f i l m i s a d i r e c t window on e x t e r i o r r e a l i t y , r a t h e r than a d m i t t i n g to be an a r b i t r a r y c r e a t i o n of an ordered r e a l i t y . Of course, we are q u i t e comfortable with t h i s b r i e f r e t u r n to c o n v e n t i o n a l DECOUPAGE and do not f i n d the sudden appearance of the sea as being at a l l d i s c o n c e r t i n g , s i n c e we have long ago conceded to the apparent " r e a l i t y " of f i l m . Resnais a l s o shows h i m s e l f to be p e r f e c t l y capable and w i l l i n g to p r o v i d e some c o n v e n t i o n a l scenes c r e a t e d by t r a d i t i o n a l DECOUPAGE i n Marienbad, i f o n l y to h i g h l i g h t the b i z a r r e TRUCAGE which i s the s t y l e of the r e s t of the f i l m . E n s u i t e , vous m'avez demande l e nom des personnages. J ' a i repondu que ca n ' a v a i t pas d.'.importance. -- Vous n ' e t i e z pas de c e t a v i s , e t vous vous etes mise a l e u r donner des noms, un peu au hasard j e c r o i s . . . Pyrrhys e t Andrpmaque, Helene et Agamemnon ... A l o r s j ' a i d i t que c ' e t a i t vous et moi, a u s s i b i e n . . . (un s i l e n c e ) ou n'importe q u i . (p. 71) A wants to name the s t a t u e s , which opens up even more avenues of i n t e r p r e t a t i o n , while at the same time narrowing the scope of such i n t e r p r e t a t i o n . The power of naming i s r e a s s u r i n g i n the same way t h a t d e f i n i n g and i n t e r p r e t i n g allows the mind to r e s t at one e x p l a n a t i o n of an enigmatic work of a r t . What happens by naming the s t a t u e i s 54 t h a t i t s i n t r i n s i c q u a l i t y i s ignored i n a l l i t s d e t a i l , i n c o n g r u i t y and p h y s i c a l beauty, s i n c e i t i s f o r c e d to s i g n i f y and r e p r e s e n t one couple i n s t e a d of many. By naming, one subordinates the i m a g i n a t i o n to a s i m p l i s t i c d e f i n i t i o n of a complex work o f a r t . Naming i s another way of d e f i n i n g and t h e r e f o r e l i m i t i n g the s u b j e c t . One g i v e s up the c h a l l e n g e to observe and f u l l y a p p r e c i a t e the work of a r t as a r t . I f the s t a t u e i s named, i t l o s e s i t s enigmatic presence to some degree, and becomes an obvious s i g n i f i e r of one couple r a t h e r than remaining an ever changing r e p r e s e n t a t i o n of the many d i f f e r e n t f a c e t s of a l l c o u p l e s . The scene q u i c k l y changes, becoming an a c t i v e p a r t i c i p a t i o n between A and X i n t h i s "remembered" i n s p e c t i o n of the s t a t u e . X: Ne l e u r donnez pas de nom... I l s p o u r r a i e n t a v o i r eu t a n t d'autres aventures. A: Vous o u b l i e z l e c h i e n . Pourquoi o n t - i l s un c h i e n avec eux? X: Le c h i e n n'est pas avec eux. I l p a s s a i t l a par hasard. A: Mais on v o i t b i e n c j u ' i l se s e r r e c o n t r e sa m a i t r e s s e . X: Ce n'est pas sa m a i t r e s s e . I l se s e r r e c o n t r e e l l e parce que l e s o c l e e s t t r o p e t r o i t . Regardez-les l a - b a s , ce sont l e s memes et i l s n'ont p l u s l e c h i e n avec eux... Mais de p l u s pres, vous v e r r e z q u ' e l l e regarde a i l l e u r s . . . Venez-vous? A: Non... Je n ' a i pas e n v i e . . . C'est t r o p l o i n . . . X: Suivez-moi, je vous en p r i e . (pp. 72-73) T h i s i s an a c t i v e d i a l o g u e i n which we see A and X c o n v e r s i n g on the screen, which c o n t r a s t s w i t h the p r e v i o u s scene t h a t was n a r r a t e d by X as A l i s t e n e d . We have the f e e l i n g of a f l a s h b a c k which i m p l i e s a c e r t a i n v a l i d i t y to X's s t o r y : - He i s not i n v e n t i n g i t , f o r i t i s presented as r e a l i s t i c a l l y as p o s s i b l e i n the form of a " f l a s h - b a c k . " However, we must remember t h a t Marienbad i s a f i l m which l i e s and d i s t o r t s the "truth'.' T h i s may simply be the impression 55 which X r e c e i v e s as he c r e a t e s the past; whether he i s remembering or a c t u a l l y i n v e n t i n g i t . As one c r i t i c , Chasseguet-Smirgel, has seen, X's i n t e r p r e t a t i o n o f the dog having no r e l a t i o n s h i p w i t h the female s t a t u e i s i n d i c a t i v e of h i s a l i e n a t i o n from o t h e r s , and i s a s i g n of h i s disconnectedness w i t h A.^ Th i s scene i s the f i r s t one i n which X and A laugh t o g e t h e r . T h i s i m p l i e s an intima c y and cameraderie which i s the very o p p o s i t e of t h e i r otherwise " f o r m a l i s t i c " c o n v e r s a t i o n s . X and A speak i n " l e g a l terms," always t r y i n g to prove what happened. Perhaps t h i s i s p r e c i s e l y X's problem — to have sensed an in t i m a t e understanding w i t h A which never r e a l l y was t h e r e . The audience i s teased by A's stubborn r e f u s a l to look a t the o t h e r s t a t u e . X presen t s i t as another c l u e to prove h i s hypotheses about the s t a t u e , which we hope w i l l e n l i g h t e n us with regard to Marienbad. We are i n v e i g l e d to b e l i e v e t h a t t h i s path w i l l be the key we are l o o k i n g f o r , o n l y to have the proof unrevealed, l e f t OFF CAMERA. Here again we are r e f u s e d a Hollywood p l o t advancement which might s a t i s f y our c u r i o s i t y . Voix de X: Je vous en p r i e . A: Je vous repute que c ' e s t i m p o s s i b l e . Je n ' a i meme jamais ete a F r e d e r i c k s b a d . X: Eh b i e n , c ' e t a i t a i l l e u r s peut-e^tre. 'a K a r l s t a d t , a Marienbad, ou a Baden-Salsa — ou meme i c i , dans ce s a l o n . Vous m'avez s u i v i j u s q u ' i c i pour que j e vous montre c e t t e image, (p. 74) X continues d e s c r i b i n g the statue as he i n t e r p r e t s i t , as he 56 shows A an a r t i s t ' s p r i n t o f t h e s t a t u e and g a r d e n , w h i c h i s c o n v e n i e n t l y on t h e w a l l . We r e t u r n t o t h e " p r e s e n t " t i m e w h e r e i n A c o n t i n u e s t o deny t h e p o s s i b i l i t y o f X's " s t o r y " b e i n g a t a l l t r u e . T h i s l i s t o f p o s s i b l e p l a c e s f o r a p a s t e n c o u n t e r p r o d u c e s v e r t i g o among t h e s p e c t a t o r s as w e l l as i n A. We become c o n f u s e d w i t h a l l t h e s e p o s s i b i l i t i e s . S i n c e we have come t o a m ovie e n t i t l e d L'annee d e r n i e r e a M a r i e n b a d , we assume t h a t t h e m e e t i n g u n f o l d e d t h e r e l a s t y e a r . B u t w i t h t h e e v o c a t i o n o f p l a c e s , t h e y a l l become t h e e q u a l o f t h e o t h e r and we l o s e any c e r t a i n t y o f t h i s s t o r y h a v i n g happened a t a l l . M a r i e n b a d o r t h e p l a c e where X and A a r e p u r p o r t e d t o have met may be a c o m p l e t e f a b r i c a t i o n by X. P l a y i n g w i t h o u r i m a g i n a t i o n s as w e l l as A ' s , he has c r e a t e d a s t o r y o u t o f t h e v e r y p l a c e where t h e y wander — w h i c h i s n a m e l e s s — and a l l t h e more m e n a c i n g b e c a u s e o f t h i s f a c t . E v e n i n t h e a p p a r e n t p r e s e n t (when he t r i e s t o c o n v i n c e h e r o f h e r p a s t ) we r e t u r n t o l o o k a t a p i c t u r e o f t h e s t a t u e o f " l a s t y e a r . "X i s e x a m i n i n g t h e p r e s e n t p l a c e and p r o j e c t i n g i t as t h e p a s t . The a p p a r e n t s i m i l a r i t y between t h e s e v a r i o u s German r e s o r t s , w h i l e o u t s i d e t h e c o n t e x t o f t h i s f i l m , i s n o t a t a l l e x t r a o r d i n a r y , s i n c e many were b u i l t by t h e same a r c h i t e c t s i n t h e same s t y l e s f o r t h e same c l a s s o f p e o p l e . E a c h no d o u b t w o u l d c o n t a i n a F r e n c h g a r d e n w i t h s t a t u e s , as w e l l as e n g r a v i n g s o f t h e e s t a t e s . B u t t h i s e v i d e n t s i m i l a r i t y i s t w i s t e d i n t o s o m e t h i n g b i z a r r e and f r i g h t e n i n g w i t h i n t h e c o n v o l u t i o n s o f X's c r e a t i o n . I f f o u r o r f i v e p l a c e s a r e a l l " e q u i v a l e n t " , one l o s e s any s e n s e o f a s s u r a n c e i n " r e a l i t y " . A i s d i s p l a c e d i n 57 her own mind as she t r i e s to d e f i n e one chateau as being d i s t i n c t from another. X's d e s c r i p t i o n s are so ge n e r a l as to i n c l u d e and h i n t at any chateau A may have v i s i t e d . The evidence of the a r c h i t e c t u r e i t s e l f a f f r o n t s A's b e l i e f i n having been on l y i n one p l a c e . T r y i n g to evoke a memory can a l s o confuse someone who has been i n many s i m i l a r p l a c e s . The d i s t i n g u i s h i n g f e a t u r e s c o u l d be transposed by her own mind or by X's present d e s c r i p t i o n from one p l a c e to another. What i s f r i g h t e n i n g i s the power of the language of d e s c r i p t i o n which d i s t o r t s a c e r t a i n t y o f p l a c e . X's constant a t t a c k on A's r e f u s a l p r e s e n t s a t l e a s t a c e r t a i n " t r u t h f u l n e s s " i n t h a t i t i s based on what can be seen. I t i s a b a t t l e between A's "common sense," of knowing her own past and the p l a c e s t h a t she has v i s i t e d , and X's u n r e l e n t i n g p r o j e c t i o n o f p o s s i b i l i t i e s . As X e x p l a i n s the e t c h i n g to A, M a r r i v e s out of the shadows to inform them of the s t a t u e ' s background. M: Pardonnez-moi, cher Monsieur. Je c r o i s que je peux vous r e n s e i g n e r d' une faqjon p l u s p r e c i s e : c e t t e s t a t u e repre'sente C h a r l e s I I I e t son epouse, mais e l l e ne date pas de c e t t e ^poque, n a t u r e l l e m e n t . La scene e s t c e l l e du serment devant l a D i e t e , au moment du proems en t r a h i s o n . Les costumes antiq u e s sont de convention pure. (p. 76) M speaks wi t h the v o i c e of a u t h o r i t y . Some c r i t i c s see him as being i n the " r e a l world" as opposed to A and X who are presumed to l i v e i n a f a n t a s y world.^ T h i s e x p l i c a t i o n of the sta t u e as w e l l as the lunch meeting a l l u d e d to with P a t t e r s o n at the end, makes M a man.of b u s i n e s s . His e x p l a n a t i o n leaves no room f o r i n t e r p r e t a t i o n or doubt, being the o p p o s i t e of X's d e s c r i p t i o n s . 58 M's e x p l i c i t v e r b a l i z a t i o n of t h i s work of a r t i s a t h r e a t to X's c r e a t i o n , f o r p r e c i s i o n w i l l c o r r o b o r a t e or negate the p r o o f s which X co n t i n u e s to p r o f e r . We are impressed by the u n s a t i s f a c t o r y q u a l i t y of M's e x p l a n a t i o n . (Here we can d e f i n i t e l y agree with X's statement t h a t names do not mean anything and are t r u l y of l i t t l e importance whatsoever.) T h i s e x p l a n a t i o n i t s e l f i s a jewel of s i g n s which can o n l y f r u s t r a t e the keen c r i t i c s , who s i t here, as the audience, p u z z l i n g over t h i s f i l m . There are seven C h a r l e s 5 I I I i n European h i s t o r y , but not one of them was put on t r i a l f o r t r e a s o n , nor d i d they have access to a D i e t . (This s i g n i f i e r D i e t evokes German h i s t o r y as D i e t s e x i s t e d as p a r l i a m e n t s i n Germany o n l y i n the Middle Ages and d u r i n g the Renaissance; we must not f o r g e t t h a t the a c t i o n takes p l a c e a t a German chateau.) What does the i d e a of " B e t r a y a l " or "Treason" have to do w i t h our conversant couple X and A? Marienbad t r i e s to h i n t a t meaning to connect i t to our h i s t o r i c a l world, but these leads are o n l y "red h e r r i n g s " to expose the f u t i l i t y of e x p l a n a t i o n s . R o b b e - G r i l l e t p r e f e r s t h a t we s t r u g g l e and experience the flow and process of meaning which Marienbad i l l u s t r a t e s , r a t h e r than d e f i n e and l i m i t h i s a r t to one d e f i n i t i v e s o l u t i o n . A r t f o r him i s a q u e s t i o n of c r e a t i o n not o n l y f o r the a r t i s t but f o r the audience as w e l l . The e f f o r t of the s p e c t a t o r , l i k e t h a t of the reader, has become to an o v e r - i n c r e a s i n g extent an i n t e g r a l p a r t of cinematographic and n o v e l i s t i c c r e a t i o n . "The hour of the reader" t h a t Jose-Maria C a s t e l l e t has d e c l a r e d f o r the new novel has as i t s c o u n t e r p a r t the "hour of the s p e c t a t o r " f o r the new cinema. T h i s c o l l a b o r a t i v e e f f o r t , which has never been wholly absent i n a r t , becomes more e s s e n t i a l , more c r i t i c a l : not i n the former sense of the " d e c i p h e r i n g " demanded by the hermeneutic poetry of a Rimbaud or a Mallarme — wherein the search f o r meaning, f o r m u l t i p l e 59 i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s , c o n s t i t u t e s a f i r s t requirement f o r the comprehension of a given work -- but i n the sense of p a r t i c i p a t i n g i n the a e s t h e t i c f u n c t i o n i n g of the novel or f i l m . ^ The a r r i v a l at an answer i s a d e n i a l of the e n r i c h i n g journey so o f t e n ignored when c r i t i c s l a b e l , d e f i n e and d e s t r o y the enigma of a r t . Real a r t has the c a p a c i t y to make us nervous. By r e d u c i n g the work of a r t to i t s content and then i n t e r p r e t i n g t h a t , one tames the work of a r t . I n t e r p r e t a t i o n makes a r t manageable, comfortable ... What i s important now i s to r e c o v e r our senses. We must l e a r n t o see more, to hear more, to f e e l more.8 We are shown a s e r i e s of q u i e t scenes i n the chateau which c a l l f o r t h the q u i e t , s i n i s t e r nature of Marienbad. A f t e r a few frames X and A come i n t o view again. The image v a c i l l a t e s between A and X, as the f o l l o w i n g d i a l o g u e i s presented. X: Vous m'attendiez. A: Non... Pourquoi vous a t t e n d r a i s - j e ? X: Je vous a i moi-m^me attendue longtemps. A: Dans vos reVes? . X: E t vous essayez a nouveau de vous echapper. Voix de A: Mais de quoi p a r l e z - v o u s ? Je ne comprends r i e n a* ce que vous d i t e s . X: S i c ' e t a i e n t des reves, pourquoi a u r i e z - v o u s peur? Voix de A: Eh b i e n , racontez-moi done l a s u i t e de n o t r e h i s t o i r e . (pp. 7 9 - 8 0 ) Waiting indeed i s an ambiguous a c t . Standing on the s t a i r s A can seem to be w a i t i n g without having any such i n t e n t . Yet by o b s e r v i n g A from the o u t s i d e , as s p e c t a t o r s must, we see X a r r i v e . A may or may not have been a w a i t i n g X, s i n c e h i s a r r i v a l a l l o w s , r a t h e r than denies t h a t p o s s i b i l i t y . X becomes the " e t e r n a l , " p o e t i c l o v e r as he s t a t e s "attendre longtemps." But 60 h i s romantic a l l u s i o n i s humourously destroyed by A's quick r e b u t t a l . What very few c r i t i c s have mentioned i s the i n h e r e n t 9 . humour m t h i s journey i n t o ambiguity as a man denies a woman's past (to her very f a c e ! ) . We are very much i n v o l v e d i n t r y i n g to s o r t out the meaning of Marienbad, while at the same time f e e l i n g menaced by i t s m u t a b i l i t y and i m p e r m e a b i l i t y to c o n c r e t e , " r e a l " c e r t a i n t y . While being a very s e r i o u s adventure, Marienbad i s undeniably humourous as an e q u a l l y r i d i c u l o u s quest. We t i r e of r e p e t i t i o n ; as we see the bedroom appear f o r the umpteenth time, and see the o p t i o n s f o r an end to the s t o r y , murder, rape, e t c . , we become exasperated. Is there no end to Marienbad? Why i s A a f r a i d ? She f e a r s the present adventure as a t h r e a t t o her connection w i t h r e a l i t y . Her p l a c e i n the world along w i t h her sense of r e a l i t y and dreams i s threatened by X's d e n i a l of her own self-knowledge. The nightmare of l o s i n g her i d e n t i t y becomes ever more r e a l , as X c o n t i n u e s to confuse her with d i f f e r e n t v e r s i o n s of r e a l i t y so c l o s e to what she may have experienced i n the past as to be p o s s i b l y v a l i d . X's r e p e t i t i o u s r e c o l l e c t i o n of s i m i l a r events g i v e s A a sense of deja-vu even though she may have experienced these events o n l y by l i s t e n i n g t o what X t e l l s her. A, l i k e we the s p e c t a t o r s , must y i e l d to X's ongoing n a r r a t i v e i f we are to r e s o l v e t h i s c o n f l i c t between h i s s t o r y and her r e a l i t y . pp. 83-86. X r e c a l l s A back to t h e i r "next" meeting which 61 took p l a c e among a small group of guests at the h o t e l . In a monologue by X not a word of the d i a l o g u e i s u t t e r e d , o n l y i t s contours and i m p l i c a t i o n s are d e s c r i b e d . In the f i r s t h a l f of t h i s monologue we see A alone moving around the l a b y r i n t h i n e garden i n a s e d u c t i v e gown of l i g h t white m a t e r i a l , a p p a r e n t l y going nowhere but around! The robe as i t i s blown around by the wind g i v e s her an ephemeral q u a l i t y . She walks calmly, w h i l e c o n s t a n t l y changing d i r e c t i o n , moving about wi t h d i r e c t i o n l e s s purpose. She wears one sandal while c a r r y i n g the o t h e r n o n c h a l a n t l y i n her hand. Once again t h e r e i s no c o r r e l a t i o n between the images and the words. A's course through the maze i m p l i e s her c o n t i n u i n g l o s s of c o n t r o l over her own s t o r y as X weaves once again h i s web o f open t e x t . (A as s u b j e c t i s caught i n t h i s net; whereas A i s presented here as an o b j e c t presumbaly observed by X i n t h i s , h i s s u b j e c t i v e v i s i o n . ) She l i k e us t r i e s to make sense out of X' s never-ending r e c o u n t i n g which assures us by i t s c e r t a i n t y , y e t b a f f l e s us by i t s c o n t r a d i c t i o n s . Can we assume t h a t i t i s X who imagines A running around the l a b y r i n t h i n t h i s manner, giv e n the a l l u r i n g costume she i s wearing? He imagines c o n c r e t e l y what h i s complicated t a l e i s doing a b s t r a c t l y : l u r i n g A i n t o a t r a p through which he can possess her. What t h i s dissonance between n a r r a t e d t e x t and image does i s t o f o r c e us to imagine the scene X d e s c r i b e s as we watch and t r y to make sense of what we see on the screen. T h i s i s y e t again another way i n which Marienbad f o r c e s us to c r e a t e by imagining as we experience the f i l m . Normally when we watch a f i l m we expect to be l e d by the sequence of r e l e v a n t images and 62 d i a l o g u e which make up a n a r r a t i v e f i l m . But the authors of Marienbad t r y to make us work along with the a r t i s t s by c r e a t i n g our own image of what X d e s c r i b e s as the f i l m shows us another event. In t h i s way too we are put i n the same s i t u a t i o n as A s i n c e , l i k e her, we must t r y to v i s u a l i z e what he d e s c r i b e s i n words. X: Je vous r e g a r d a i s . Vous vous meliez a l a c o n v e r s a t i o n . Avec un e n t r a i n q u i m'a paru f a c t i c e . I I me semblait que personne ne s a v a i t q u i vous e t i e z parmi tous ces gens, que j ' e t a i s l e s e u l a l e s a v o i r . Et vous ne l e s a v i e z pas non p l u s . . . (p. 83) We are presented by the camera wi t h a c r o s s - c u t of a group of persons i n the garden, among whom we f i n d A, M and X. X r e l a t e s t h a t he s a i d something to a t t r a c t her a t t e n t i o n . She reponded: d 1une phrase i r o n i q u e sur 1'invraisemblance de fsonj propos. Les a u t r e s c o n t i n u a i e n t de se t a i r e . Voix de X: J ' a i eu de nouveau 1'impression que^ personne ne comprenait vos p a r o l e s , p e u t - ^ t r e meme que j ' e t a i s l e s e u l a l e s a v o i r entendues. (p. 85) X a t t a c k s A's own c o n f i d e n c e i n h e r s e l f by suggesting t h i s d i s c o n n e c t i o n between h e r s e l f and the group. He accuses her i n d i r e c t l y of being somewhat f a l s e and f a b r i c a t e d . (She i s but a facade!) The others do not know who she i s , nor do they understand what she says. I t i s X who knows her and i m p l i e s t h a t he i s a b l e to understand her. T h i s p o i n t of view i s an attempt to undermine her s e l f - h o o d , which i s what he must do to make her b e l i e v e i n the s t o r y he r e l a t e s . She.must q u e s t i o n her own b e l i e f i n her past which he d i c t a t e s to her. However d i r e c t l y t h i s i n c i d e n t i s r e l a t e d , i t remains on l y the impressions of X as he 63 himself reports. He e g o t i s t i c a l l y emphasizes his own invaluable importance to A. P. 89. We watch X and A dancing in two shots. Then we are shown a game of poker with M and X among other guests. X i s the l a s t to accede the v i c t o r y to M who nonchalantly c o l l e c t s the cards and the poker chips he has won. X calmly adds the required chips to the center of the table but when M raises the ante, X smilingly admits defeat. M regards him i n d i f f e r e n t l y while X appears to appreciate the humour of his loss. Throughout the game we hear x's voice as i t describes another incident from A's past. It appears that she once broke a heel of her shoe as she was walking with him i n the garden. The lugubrious waltz music that we have heard previously continues on throughout t h i s scene. The juxtaposition of music, the seriousness/non-seriousness of the game alongside X's narrated (unrelated to the images) memory of A breaking one of her heels -- a l l of t h i s teases us by i t s incongruity. It i s a banal story presented i n an odd fashion, which imbues i t with a bizarre q u a l i t y . Does X imagine t h i s past event as he plays poker? The story i s directed towards A, and yet she i s not present, i t i s we who receive the incongruous connection between poker, the table, haunting music and humour. This memory as i t i s described for us appears to come out of place, as though i t should have preceded (chronologically speaking) the images of A running around the labyrinth with one shoe on. X relates his memories of the past i n an achronological fashion , which could be read d i f f e r e n t l y by us as implying truth or falsehood. If he 64 r e l a t e s the past as he t r u l y remembers i t , one c o u l d e a s i l y accept the d i s t o r t i o n s and c o n v o l u t i o n s . Whose memory does not a l s o i n t e r p r e t and c r e a t e p e r c e i v e d experiences? We should no doubt wish to deny t h i s . "Common sense" should t e l l us t h a t we can remember what we o u r s e l v e s e x p e r i e n c e . But a good example of f a u l t y memory c o u l d be p r o v i d e d by p s y c h o l o g i c a l t e s t s which study p o l i c e witness r e p o r t s . D i f f e r e n t s u b j e c t s are asked to p a r t i c i p a t e i n an experiment. During the course of t h e i r w a i t i n g , a staged event i s played out. The s u b j e c t s are then examined and t h e i r eye-witness accounts of what happened are c o l l e c t e d and compared. What i s exposed i s the i d e a t h a t eye- witne s s e s ' testimony of observed crime i s r e l i a b l e . T h e i r s t o r i e s u s u a l l y c o n f l i c t so as to p r o v i d e a myriad of s o l u t i o n s as to what " r e a l l y " happened. What can o n l y be e x p l a i n e d i s t h a t we as s u b j e c t s i n t e r p r e t the f l u i d r e a l i t y i n which we l i v e . We are c r e a t i n g , t r a n s l a t i n g and d e f i n i n g what we e x p e r i e n c e . R e a l i t y as an o b j e c t i v e e n t i t y i s hard to grasp or d e f i n e ; we have onl y our own mutations to b e l i e v e i n . I f t h i s experiment which i n v o l v e s a c t o r s who are u n r e l a t e d to the s u b j e c t s demonstrates the innaccuracy of " o b j e c t i v e " r e p o r t i n g on an event, imagine how even more d i s t o r t e d our memories must be about the events which i n v o l v e us p e r s o n a l l y ! Even the eye i n v e n t s what i t sees: i t f i l l s i n the gaps which are m i s s i n g a c c o r d i n g to past . e x p e r i e n c e s . On the other hand i f we b e l i e v e X to be i n v e n t i n g h i s s t o r y , h i s achronology would be p a r t of h i s attempt to confuse and d i s p l a c e A's mind so as to convince her of the v a l i d i t y of h i s 65 c l a i m s . I f she cannot c o n t r o l and b e l i e v e i n p a r t of her own mind, perhaps she would accept one so e m p h a t i c a l l y defended by X. J ' a i d i t , a l o r s , que j e pouvais a u s s i vous p o r t e r dans mes bras pour r e v e n i r . Vous avez r i seulement, sans repondre, comme s i c 1 e t a i t . . . v o u s avez du, ce j o u r - l a r e n t r e r vos s o u l i e r s a main, sur l e s g r a v i e r s , jusqu'a 1 ' h o t e l . (p. 89) X puts h i m s e l f or remembers h i m s e l f to be i n a g a l l a n t p o s i t i o n as the r e s c u e r of A, "a damsel i n d i s t r e s s . " He uses h i s i n t u i t i o n i n examining A and p r o j e c t s the person whom he t h i n k s he sees i n t o a past event. She has f r a i l expensive shoes which might e a s i l y break: the i n c i d e n t c o u l d have e a s i l y and may w e l l have happened. He sees her a l s o (as she p r e s e n t l y r e s i s t s him) as one t o r e f u s e h i s a i d whether i t i s a q u e s t i o n of b r i n g i n g her shoe o r c a r r y i n g her o f f . These g a l a n t r i e s are e a s i l y a r e f l e c t i o n of X's d e s i r e f o r c o n t r o l over A as her p r o t e c t o r and h e l p e r . How c o u l d A deny the advances of such a g a l l a n t and c h i v a l r o u s man? He d e s c r i b e s h i m s e l f as a c h a r a c t e r i n a romantic f i c t i o n . The way i n which t h i s scene u n f o l d s i s an attempt by R o b b e - G r i l l e t / R e s n a i s to encompass us i n the same f i e l d o f d i s t o r t i o n through which A i s f o r c e d to pass. We are intended to experience c o n f u s i o n as we watch Marienbad. We too are c a l l e d upon t o q u e s t i o n our past h i s t o r i e s as being anything but c e r t a i n . The waltz music cont i n u e s as the scene changes from the poker t a b l e to a bar. The camera slowly t r a c k s toward A and X who stand beside the bar. X t a l k s once more of another encounter 66 from the p a s t . Je vous r e n c o n t r a i s de nouveau. — Vous n'avez jamais l ' a i r de m'attendre, mais nous nous r e t r o u v i o n s a chaque detour d ' a l l e e , d e r r i e r e chaque b u i s s o n — au p i e d de chaque st a t u e — au bord de chaque b a s s i n . C ' e t a i t comme s 1 i l n'y a v a i t eu, dans t o u t ce j'ardin, que vous et moi. (p. 91) These simple words about a meeting evoke the t i m e l e s s q u a l i t y of two l o v e r s who meet everywhere, whose minds are f i l l e d w i th thoughts of the beloved and who search f o r each other everywhere. Or they c o u l d a l s o evoke p u r s u i t — being trapped i n the garden, f o r c e d i n t o s e e i n g one person again and a g a i n . These words spoken by X c o u l d r e p r e s e n t h i s own f e e l i n g s or those of both people i n v o l v e d . What would otherwise be a p o s i t i v e s i g n of mutual l o v e , here i n t h i s one-sided c o n v e r s a t i o n evokes a l i m i t l e s s o b s e s s i o n . X i s t r y i n g t o r e k i n d l e the mutual l o v e which he i m p l i e s they both share. Nous p a r l i o n s de n'importe quoi — du nom des s t a t u e s , de l a forme des b u i s s o n s , de 1 1eau des b a s s i n s . — Ou b i e n nous ne p a r l i o n s pas du t o u t . Temps d 'arreV. S i l e n c e complet. Pendant que X p a r l e , d'une v o i x t o u j o u r s egale, l e s deux v i s a g e s demeurent i m p a i s s i b l e s . X semble en t r a i n de v o i r l e j a r d i n e t l e s scenes q u ' i l evoque; A semble ne r i e n entendre du t o u t . . . X: La n u i t , s u r t o u t , vous aimiez vous t a i r e . (pp. 91-92) At t h i s j u n c t u r e a very b r i e f scene of A i n a b r i g h t , white, denuded bedroom f l a s h e s a c r o s s the screen. We r e t u r n to the bar o n l y to see the bedroom brought back again and again — each time f o r a few more seconds. X: "Un s o i r , j e s u i s monte' jusqu'a v o t r e chambre..." We o s c i l l a t e between the bar scene and the bedroom scene, while the bedroom scenes become s t e a d i l y l o n g e r . (Here i f we r e f e r to the e d i t i n g c h a r t i n 67 Techniques of E d i t i n g we n o t i c e t h a t the shots are usually- a l l of the same l e n g t h , they j u s t appear to be longer because we see new movements or o b j e c t s appearing i n what has become a f a m i l i a r background. Our p h y s i c a l senses are played with i n the same way t h a t our minds are. We see A e v e n t u a l l y surrounded by ten shoes i n the room as she begins to laugh. At t h i s p o i n t a woman i n the.bar laughs. We see A i n the bar walking backwards l o o k i n g h o r r i f i e d . We hear A drop her g l a s s as we see X e n t e r i n g the bedroom scene i n which A f a l l s o f f her c h a i r . The n o i s e of the shocked g a t h e r i n g i s c a r r i e d over, s i n c e when we r e t u r n to the bar a w a i t e r calmly and s i l e n t l y p i c k s up the s h a t t e r e d p i e c e s of g l a s s . A opens her eyes halfway through the b r i g h t shots of the room, as i f she i s imagining what X r e l a y s to her. The look of shock on her f a c e and the ensuing s h a t t e r i n g of her g l a s s imply a r e c o g n i t i o n of the t r u t h i n X 1 s s t o r y , or as K a r e l Reisz d e s c r i b e s : 1 1 a v i c t o r y of X 1 s mind over A: i n c o n v i n c i n g her about the t r u t h of something which she has s t e a d i l y denied. Resnais has approximated t h i s domination not through words as d i a l o g u e , but through images. X imposes an image to which he f o r c e s A to comply. F i n a l l y A appears to agree with X's c o n j e c t u r e s , even i f such agreement i s exposed by f e a r , r a t h e r than by o p t i m i s t i c acceptance. T h i s f e a r c o u l d be a r e c o g n i t i o n of what A has been sup p r e s s i n g a l l along or the a b s o l u t e m a n i p u l a t i o n of X of her memory. The bedroom h i n t s a l s o a t a s t r o n g sexual d e s i r e on the p a r t of X f o r A. Did something happen l a s t year which A has suppressed? The p i l e of shoes a l s o " c r i e s out" to be i n t e r p r e t e d 68 as a powerful and enigmatic symbol. What i s the connec t i o n between A's br e a k i n g a shoe, r e f u s i n g help by X and a s u r p l u s of 12 shoes i n her bedroom? Perhaps A's f e e l i n g s a t t h i s i n t e n s e moment i n the room make her "see" many shoes i n p l a c e of the one shoe which she needs to put on i n order to leave without encountering X. There i s no d e f i n i t i v e answer to the r e a l i t y o r e x p l a n a t i o n of t h i s scene. Here again R e s n a i s / R o b b e - G r i l l e t have broken through convention and expressed communication i n a novel way. The v i o l e n t o p p o s i t i o n between b l a c k and white enhanced i n t h i s sequence by harsh l i g h t i n g e f f e c t s i s evidence o f the suppressed y e t powerful a g g r e s s i o n i n h e r e n t i n Marienbad. The a c t i v e p u r s u i t by X of A has been maintained by an u n r e l e n t i n g p r o g r e s s i o n of episodes expressed and repeated by X. X has f o l l o w e d her to every corner of t h i s chateau i n u n r e l e n t i n g f a s h i o n ; he appears t o be more h a r r a s s i n g than l o v i n g . We cannot f o r g e t the scene where X i s p r a c t i s i n g marksmanship, s i n c e i t might be an e x p r e s s i o n o f sexual a g g r e s s i o n aimed a t A. He attempts to impose h i s r e a l i t y upon her i n order to possess her. Is the ro o t of such a g g r e s s i v e d e s i r e not a demonstration of h i s own power, which he attempts to w i e l d , r a t h e r than l i m i t l e s s l o v e f o r A which he has i m p l i e d a l l along with h i s " p o e t i c l o v e r ' s language"? A g r e s s i o n i s the means of ma n i p u l a t i o n by Marienbad's c r e a t o r s o f A by X ; a s w e l l as of us, .the s p e c t a t o r s . X qu e s t i o n s A's attachment to r e a l i t y and her past, i n e x a c t l y the same way as 69 R o b b e - G r i l l e t / R e s n a i s q u e s t i o n our connection to r e a l i t y . We have come to see a f i l m , e x p e c t i n g to see "our r e a l i t y " up on the screen. But time and time again t h i s apparent r e a l i t y i s exposed as a f i c t i o n . We have a new v i s i o n of what f i l m can do, a g g r e s s i v e l y imposed upon us. For many viewers, Marienbad i s but a c a r e f u l l y u n f o l d e d t r i c k , p layed by the w r i t e r on h i s audience. P a u l i n e Kael r e f e r s to i t as "the snow job i n the i c e p a l a c e , " i n her 13 c r i t i q u e of Marienbad. Yet t h i s r e a c t i o n may be a s a f e t y v a l v e viewers have used to d i s r e g a r d the e f f e c t which Marienbad attempts to c r e a t e on them. Noel Burch who w r i t e s about French New Wave d e l i n e a t e s the v i o l e n c e which d i r e c t o r s i n f l i c t on t h e i r audiences not o n l y through content (as one would normally expect) but a l s o through form, i n a chapter e n t i t l e d " S t r u c t u r e s of A g g r e s s i o n " : Whatever h i s l e v e l of c r i t i c a l awareness, a viewer s i t t i n g i n the dark alone and suddenly face to face with the screen i s completely at the mercy of the film-maker, who may do v i o l e n c e to him a t any moment and through any means. Should the viewer be f o r c e d beyond the p a i n t h r e s h o l d , h i s defense mechanisms may w e l l be c a l l e d f o r t h and he may remind h i m s e l f t h a t " i t ' s o n l y a movie" (that d i s t a n c i n g phenomenon to be d e s c r i b e d i n more d e t a i l below), but i t w i l l always be too l a t e . . . the harm w i l l a l r e a d y have been done; i n t e n s e d i s c o m f o r t , and perhaps even t e r r o r , w i l l a l r e a d y have c r e p t a c r o s s the t h r e s h o l d . I 4 Marienbad i s p r e c i s e l y such an a g g r e s s i v e movie which attempts to make us q u e s t i o n not o n l y the f i l m medium and how i t r e f l e c t s r e a l i t y , but a l s o the very nature of r e a l i t y i t s e l f . R o b b e - G r i l l e t i s "on the warpath" a g a i n s t complacent n o n - c r e a t i v e viewing of f i l m , a process which has enslaved both d i r e c t o r and s p e c t a t o r a l i k e . We are meant to p a r t i c i p a t e and c r e a t e along with the 70 a r t i s t , to i n v o l v e o u r s e l v e s i n the q u e s t i o n i n g of r e a l i t y , r a t h e r than a c c e p t i n g a pre-formulated shallow r e f l e c t i o n of our world. T h i s scene o n l y l a s t s t hree minutes but i t has caused such a l a r g e rupture i n the flow of o u r . n a r r a t i v e . A y i e l d s ground to X, be i t f o r t r u t h , l a c k of power, or f e a r . The s i l e n c e surrounding the f i n a l shot as the w a i t e r p i c k s up the p i e c e s of broken g l a s s i s an attempt t o calm us down and r e t u r n us to y e t another path of our overwhelming p u z z l e . Resnais uses the c o n f l i c t between s i l e n c e and sound, as w e l l as rhythm to a f f e c t us emotively i n the same manner t h a t music moves us. F i l m becomes an e x p r e s s i o n f o r i t s e l f as a emotive p i e c e r a t h e r than being c o n s i d e r e d important o n l y f o r what i t means. 71 NOTES Chapter 2 1. Bruce M o r r i s s e t t e , Les Romans de R o b b e - G r i l l e t ( P a r i s : E d i t i o n s de M i n u i t , 1963), p. 207. 2. In the Labarthe, R i v e t t e i n t e r v i e w , Resnais and R o b b e - G r i l l e t d i s c u s s what i s the best way o f producing r e a l i t y on f i l m . They admit t h a t scenes i n f i l m no matter what time frame they occur i n , are always presented i n the presen t tense. Labarthe, R i v e t t e i n t e r v i e w , pp. 10-11. 3. Chasseguet-Smirgel, p. 135. 4. "M, en somme, e s t i n s e r e dans l a r e a l i t e . I l e s t " p o s i t i f , " f a i t des a f f a i r e s ( l e dejeuner avec Anderson)." Chasseguet-Smirgel, p. 73. 5. There are" seven r e f e r e n c e s . t o C h a r l e s I I I i n European h i s t o r y i n Le Robert NOms Propres, V o l . I, pp. 434-435, 623, 625, 626, 627. 6. "Diete germanique" i s e x p l a i n e d i n Le Robert Noms Propres, V o l . 2, p. 891. 7. Bruce M o r r i s s e t t e , The Novels of R o b b e - G r i l l e t , (London: C o r n e l l U n i v e r s i t y Press, 1971), pp. 210-211. 8. Susan Sontag, A g a i n s t I n t e r p r e t a t i o n and Other Essays (New York: F a r r e r , Straus & Giroux, 1967), pp. 8, 14. 9. James Monaco i s a noted e x c e p t i o n . He w r i t e s about the humour i n the r e p t i l l i a n s t r u c t u r e of sentences as w e l l as the humour of c o n s t a n t l y p o s i n g . With regard t o M he w r i t e s : "Sacha P i t o e f f cuts a l u g u b r i o u s f i g u r e which i s by turns comical and v i c i o u s . I t reminds us t h a t vampire psychology u n d e r l i e s the f i l m . " James Monaco, A l a i n Resnais (New York: Oxford U n i v e r s i t y Press, 1979), pp. 65-66 10. K a r e l Reisz and Gavin M i l l a r , The- Technique of F i l m E d i t i n g (London: F o c a l Press, 1968, 2nd enlar g e d e d i t i o n ) , pp. 365- 369. 11. K a r e l Reisz and Gavin M i l l a r , p. 369. 12. Chasseguet-Smirgel d i s c u s s e s the shoes i n her chapter on Marienbad, pp. 64-65. The shoes are p a r t of a p s y c h o - a n a l y t i c a l e x p l a n a t i o n which although very r i c h l y developed I cannot f u l l y a ccept. P a u l i n e K a e l , "The Come-Dressed-As-The-Sick-Soul-Of-Europe P a r t i e s " i n I Los t i t a t the Movies (Boston: A t l a n t i c Monthly Press, 1965), p. 185. Noel Burch, Theory of F i l m P r a c t i c e (New York: Praeger, 1973), p. 124. Chapter 3 P a r t three i s i n t e r s p e r s e d at l e n g t h with d i s c o r d a n t music which repeats as the scenes of X and A dancing t o g e t h e r repeat. The s t o r y o f A's p u r s u i t i s minutely e l a b o r a t e d on, g i v i n g us the f e e l i n g of a s t o r y which while appearing not to advance or change i s n e v e r t h e l e s s growing and d e v e l o p i n g . X d e s c r i b e s A as a s t a t u e , while he t a l k s at l e n g t h o f her f e a r . . . Of him, or of M perhaps. They d i s c u s s and p r o j e c t d i f f e r e n t views of the room where he took her by f o r c e or perhaps d i d not. More proof i s a l l u d e d to by r e f e r e n c e to a b r a c e l e t i n the t e x t , but by a r i n g i n the movie. "But i t i s too l a t e ! " c r i e s X. A moves about i n the bedroom, r e f u s i n g to look at or accept what X d e s c r i b e s . (pp- 97-172) G r a d u a l l y , A seems to accept X's v e r b a l i z e d past but not h i s i n v i t a t i o n t o go away with him. With the p o s s i b i l i t y t h a t A might be persuaded, X seems to l o s e grasp of h i s accounts; h i s t a l e s have been of the p a s t , of l a s t year, toward c o n v i n c i n g A. T h e i r going away together p o i n t s now toward the present and f u t u r e , which leaves X confused and s t r u g g l i n g between p o s s i b l e "endings" to the s t o r y . In one p o s s i b l e ending, a j e a l o u s M k i l l s A. X r e j e c t s t h i s , s a y i n g t h a t he must have A a l i v e . ' Another ending i n v o l v e s a rape, a l s o r e j e c t e d by X and v i s u a l i z e d i n the f i l m by the repeated overexposed shots o f A coming to meet X w i t h f e a t h e r e d arms o u t s t r e t c h e d . A f t e r a meeting i n the garden, X h u r d l e s the b a l u s t r a d e of the balcony and i t breaks. A screams, and her screams are i d e n t i c a l w i t h those of an e a r l i e r scene, the v i s u a l s r e t u r n i n g to t h a t e a r l i e r scene i n the bar when A dropped her g l a s s . M and A meet i n her bedroom, and i t i s c l e a r t h a t M knows she w i l l leave him, d e s p i t e her p r o t e s t a t i o n s t h a t he keep her. While everyone e l s e at the chateau i s a t t e n d i n g the p l a y t h a t began the f i l m , X and A leave at midnight, as they had p r e v i o u s l y agreed.1 74 D i f f e r e n t scenes of A and X i n s i d e and o u t s i d e . " C ' e t a i t t o u j o u r s des murs — p a r t o u t , autour de moi — u n i s , l i s s e s , v e r n i s sans l a moindre p r i s e , c ' e t a i t t o u j o u r s des murs..." (p. 97). T h i s s i t u a t i o n r e f e r s to a "hero" who i n the past was always co n f r o n t e d with o b s t r u c t i o n s . T h i s i s a l s o a hopeless s i t u a t i o n i n which the hero X i s powerless: " C ' e t a i t t o u j o u r s " u n d e r l i n e s the i n f i n i t y ( l i m i t l e s s time) i n X's search f o r A, as w e l l as reminding us of a l a b y r i n t h , which allows f o r i n f i n i t e advancement i n a s t r a i g h t f o r w a r d t r a c e l e s s path. The f i l m complies by showing us a s e r i e s o f h a l l s and c o r r i d o r s , a l l seeming to l e a d somewhere and nowhere at the same time. Voix de X: .. . e t a u s s i l e s i l e n c e . Je n ' a i jamais entendu personne e l e v e r l a v o i x , dans c e t hostel — personne... Les c o n v e r s a t i o n s se d e r o u l a i e n t a v i d e , comme s i l e s phrases ne s i g n i f i a i e n t r i e n , ne deva i e n t r i e n s i g n i f i e r , de toute maniere. Et l a phrase commencee r e s t a i t t o u t a coup en suspens, comme fige*e par l e g e l . . . Mais pour reprendre e n s u i t e , sans doute, au meme p o i n t , ou a i l l e u r s . £a n ' a v a i t pas d 1 importance . C "etaient t o u j o u r s l e s memes c o n v e r s a t i o n s q u i r e v e n a i e n t , l e s mimes v o i x absentes. Les s e r v i t e u r s e t a i e n t muets. Les jeux e t a i e n t s i l e n c i e u x , n a t u r e l l e m e n t . C ' e t a i t un l i e u de repos, on n'y t r a i t a i t aucune a f f a i r e , on n'y t r a m a i t pas de complot / > ( /pn n'y p a r l a i t jamais de quoi que ce f u t q u i put e v e i l l e r l e s p a s s i o n s . I I y a v a i t p a r t o u t des e c r i t e a u x : t a i s e z - v o u s , t a i s e z - v o u s . (pp. 98-99) T h i s sequence of di a l o g u e has both a concret e as w e l l as a f i g u r a t i v e meaning t o i t . On the one hand, t h i s p l a c e (chateau Marienbad o r wherever "we are") i s r e a l l y "un l i e u de repos" where the. wealthy have come to get b e t t e r . On the other hand these l i n e s may r e f e r e q u a l l y as w e l l to a movie/movie experience where " l e s c o n v e r s a t i o n s se de r o u l e n t a v i d e comme s i l e s phrases 75 ne s i g n i f i a i e n t r i e n , ne devaient r i e n s i g n i f i e r de toute maniere. Et l a phrase commencee r e s t a i t t o u t a coup en suspens, comme f i g e e par l e g e l . . . " I t i s i r o n i c t h a t movies purport to be r e a l i s t i c and show l i f e e x a c t l y as i t i s and y e t a l l we ever hear i n a movie i s "meaningful" d i a l o g u e ; no b o r i n g c h i t c h a t ever remains. No passage o f space or time which i s devoid of s i g n i f i c a n t meaning. However i n Marienbad, a l l we hear i s the i n c o n s e q u e n t i a l r e p e t i t i o n ad i n f i n i t u m , so t h a t d e t a i l s and o b j e c t s however banal — l e t a l o n b r i s e . . . l a bague...la s t a t u e — a l l take on much more meaning because o f t h e i r j u x t a p o s i t i o n and t h e i r v alue as "meaningful" movie d i a l o g u e . We as s p e c t a t o r s crave meaning and so a v i d l y produce meaning f o r every t w i s t i n Marienbad which may or may not have any meaning a t a l l . T h i s paragraph may a c t u a l l y r e f e r t o r e p e t i t i o n i n time of movie d i a l o g u e as i t i s p l a y e d over and over again. "Figee par l e g e l " i s a c r o s s over of c oncrete language i n t o f i g u r a t i v e language. ("Le g e l de '28 ou "29" i s o f t e n repeated.) The o b s e s s i o n with s i l e n c e i n t h i s sequence i s overwhelming. The chateau i s a u s p i c i o u s l y a p l a c e of calm t r a n q u i l i t y , y e t i n the midst of t h i s calm, we have a man, X, who i s d e s p e r a t e l y t r y i n g t o s t i r up the pass i o n s of A p r e c i s e l y to j o i n him i n h i s p l o t t o have A abandon M. The r e f e r e n c e to s i l e n c e a l s o r e f e r s to the strange couple who conversed i n the midst of c r i e s from the woman to remain q u i e t . "Supporter ces s i l e n c e s , cesmurs, ces chuchotements p i r e s que l e s i l e n c e , ou vous m 1enfermez... Femme: Taisez-vous, t a i s e z - v o u s ! " (p. 39) As w e l l we remember our f i r s t encounter with the n a r r a t o r 76 who spoke of s i l e n c e and h e a r i n g at the very b e g i n n i n g of Marienbad. Three people d i s c u s s the weather of a p a r t i c u l a r day i n the pas t . "Mais i l s ' a g i t d'une chose f a c i l e a c o n t r o l e r . Dans n'importe q u e l l e c o l l e c t i o n de j o u r n a l . . . A l l o n s v o i r a. l a b i b l i o t h e q u e . . . Mais c e l a d o i t e t r e une e r r e u r . " (p. 100) .Marienbad o f t e n p r o v i d e s p o s s i b l e p r o o f . We can check t h i s out " o b j e c t i v e l y " while denying i t a t the same time. L i k e any " r e a l i s t i c movie" e v e r y t h i n g i s e x p l a i n a b l e f o l l o w i n g a l o g i c a l sequence. •Marienbad however a l l u d e s t o and negates the p o s s i b i l i t y of proof a l l at the same time. We want d e s p e r a t e l y to b e l i e v e i n one f i x e d r e a l i t y o f Marienbad, but we cannot f i n d j u s t one. 2 The famous shadow scene (p. 106) which i s the bes t metaphor f o r Marienbad: what appears t o be so n a t u r a l i s not. T h i s leaves the s p e c t a t o r uneasy without h i s being a b l e to e x p l a i n p r e c i s e l y why. Shadows are c a s t by the people but not by the bushes. Which of the bushes or the people are more r e a l ? But how can one t h i n k of two d i f f e r e n t s e t s o f o b j e c t s , one wi t h shadows and the other without? One i s t r u e and one i s f a l s e ? Our "trustworthy" sense of v i s i o n i s t r i c k e d by the simple "view" of t r e e s w i t h no shadows. T h i s i s s u b l i m i n a l d i s t o r t i o n which i s so u n s e t t l i n g . The f a c t t h a t there are shadows i s i n i t s e l f not d i s t u r b i n g , but the f a c t t h a t these shadows appear when there i s no sun i s more than s l i g h t l y d i s a r m i n g . Once again, Marienbad shows i t s e l f f o r what i t i s : the demasking of the r e p r o d u c t i o n of r e a l i t y on f i l m . " C e t a i t comme s ' i l n'y a v a i t eu, dans tout ce j a r d i n , que 77 vous et moi." (p. 110) I f A was enamoured of X i t would be such a c r e d i b l e l i n e , but as i t appears t h a t A i s r e l e n t l e s s l y pursued by X, t h i s i s a hollow echo of h i s o b s e s s i o n . "Nous p a r l i o n s de n'importe q u o i : ou b i e n nous ne p a r l i o n s pas du t o u t . " The i r o n y of t h i s e x p r e s s i o n i s t h a t having spoken or not, the r e s u l t i s the same: they "spent time" t o g e t h e r . One c o n s i d e r s t h a t speech i s an important p a r t of the human c o n d i t i o n ; one would remember the a c t of speaking w i t h someone. Yet vaguely too, one c o u l d remember having f o r g o t t e n what was d i s c u s s e d . In being so f l e x i b l e as to what o c c u r r e d , X assures and bothers us at the same time. His^apparent evasiveness i m p l i e s t h a t A and X a c t u a l l y were tog e t h e r , by i t s o v e r - b a n a l i t y . "Approchez-vous! ... I I e s t t r o p t a r d de'ja." In t h i s sequence we have the f e e l i n g t h a t a change i s about to take p l a c e . We hope t h a t A w i l l approach and t h a t t h i s w i l l l e a d to some a c t i o n . "Vous ne savez pas t o u t ce q u ' i l a f a l l u t r a v e r s e r . " We are reminded of other myths where gre a t s u f f e r i n g and t e s t s of endurance and courage r e s u l t e d i n the hero f i n a l l y o b t a i n i n g the d e s i r e d woman. We as s p e c t a t o r s wish to b e l i e v e t h a t X r e a l l y has undergone much to get here. "Qui etes-vous? Vous l e savez. Comment vous appelez-vous? Ca n'a pas d'importance." Perhaps not enough has been w r i t t e n about the humour i n t h i s movie. At t h i s stage of over halfway through the movie we hear one of the most obvious q u e s t i o n s one would ever t h i n k of a s k i n g an unknown s t r a n g e r . A c o n s t a n t l y denies not knowing X and we are eager to p i n p o i n t him with h i s 78 name and biography. Not having names, these c h a r a c t e r s can assume names as new scenes or s i t u a t i o n s d e s c r i b e them. For example, X being nameless can assume the r o l e of Death, Fate or I l l u s i o n . Being nameless allows t h e i r c h a r a c t e r s to be so much more, as w e l l as being e x a c t l y j u s t the two people we see on the screen and n o t h i n g more. We give them new names as the s t o r y e v o l v e s . " I I e s t t r o p t a r d d e j a . " (p. 115) T h i s i m p l i e s t h a t the f i g h t i s over and y e t the movie c a r r i e s on! Or i s e v e r y t h i n g a l r e a d y decided by f a t e ? "X: Mais vous savez b i e n que c ' e s t p o s s i b l e . A: Oui p e u t - ^ t r e , mais non. Je ne s a i s p l u s . " Here i s the f i r s t moment t h a t A i s u n c e r t a i n . The p e r c e p t i o n of her r e a l i t y would c o l l a p s e i f she were to admit t h a t X i s t e l l i n g the t r u t h . "Vous e t i e z morte. Ce n'est pas v r a i ! Vous "etes v i v a n t e encore." The r e f e r e n c e to death i m p l i e s t h a t perhaps X k i l l e d A and t h a t the movie i s a reminiscence of t h e i r shared p a s t . Or she i s "dead" once she g i v e s i n to and b e l i e v e s i n what he t e l l s her. T h e r e f o r e she i s no longer h e r s e l f but i s a dead c h a r a c t e r no longer e v o l v i n g and moving forward i n time. "A: Pourquoi? Que voulez-vous? Qu'avez-vous d'autre a m ' o f f r i r ? X: Je n ' a i r i e n a vous o f f r i r . " These l i n e s c o u l d r e f e r both to the quest f o r l o v e as w e l l as the c o n t r a c t between viewers and the d i r e c t o r . T h i s l i n e i m p l i e s t h a t there may be no f i n a l c o n c l u s i o n to the s t o r y . "I 79 have nothi n g to o f f e r you but the p u r s u i t of l o v e , " i n the e t e r n a l p r e s e n t . Perhaps X has j u s t randomly chosen A out of any number of p o s s i b i l i t i e s and perhaps he i s c o n s t r u c t i n g h i s s t o r y from the p l a y he sees, Rosmer, and the d i a l o g u e he hears at a chateau where he encounters A f o r the f i r s t time. M appears behind X and A as they d i s c u s s him. Marienbad t r i e s to be the mental space of X or A, or both of them at the same time, without u s i n g c o n v e n t i o n a l framing or f l a s h - b a c k techniques to show us e x a c t l y who i s t h i n k i n g at which moment. When M m y s t e r i o u s l y appears behind them, i t i s as though t h e i r d i s c u s s i n g him brought him p h y s i c a l l y i n t o t h e i r presence. To speak i s to c r e a t e . In the f i r s t book of the B i b l e , Genesis, 3 i t says: "And God s a i d , L e t there be l i g h t and t h e r e was l i g h t . " In t h i s way A and X's words c r e a t e a v i s i o n , t h a t of an ominous o b s t a c l e between them. Although X t r i e s to f r i g h t e n A by r e f e r r i n g t o her f e a r of M as being overpowering, at the same time M t h r e a t e n s X as the would-be s u i t o r of A. I t i s o n l y i n the game of Nim t h a t X and M a c t u a l l y c o n f r o n t one another. M as w e l l c o n t e s t s the r e a l i t y which X d e s c r i b e s to A. (When they d i s c u s s a p r i n t of the s t a t u e i n the garden; when M examines the photo which X c l a i m s to have taken l a s t year. [p. 142]) Both X and M compete (or c o u l d they be a d v e r s a r i e s ) i n the s h o o t i n g g a l l e r y ? "C'est de l u i que vous avez peur... Qui e s t - i l ? V otre mari p e u t - e t r e . I I vous c h e r c h a i t , ou p a s s a i t - i l l a par hasard." (p. 118) 80 M i s the u l t i m a t e "Nouveau Roman" c h a r a c t e r , s i n c e he i s d e f i n e d so s k e t c h i l y . He "could be" her husband but nothin g d e f i n i t e i s admitted. He p l a y s c o n c e i v a b l y both the r o l e of husband or chaperone, and even X c o u l d be a chaperone as w e l l ( c f . p. 42). Due t o the f a c t t h a t these two men are competing to c o n t r o l A or be with her, X and M f u l f i l l complementary r o l e s . Could X be l i f e and M death or the op p o s i t e ? Could M be r e a l i t y (the r e a l world/the business world) as opposed t o X, the world of the imag i n a t i o n ? X f i n a l l y takes A out of the Marienbad chateau and i n t o the garden, but the garden seems no l e s s enigmatic t h a t the chateau. Does M r e p r e s e n t p l a t o n i c love vs. X who e v e n t u a l l y r e p r e s e n t s r o m a n t i c / p h y s i c a l love? S u r e l y o t h e r v a r i a b l e s c o u l d be p o s s i b l e . There are a l s o the mathematical p o s s i b i l i t i e s t h a t A+ X+M=l and A+X+M=0, t h a t i s t h a t each o f the c h a r a c t e r s i s a f a c e t o f the same p e r s o n a l i t y , or t h a t none of them e x i s t at a l l . But most of t h i s s o r t of a n a l y s i s i s s p e c i o u s . I t focuses on the c h a r a c t e r s , as i f they were c e n t r a l to the f i l m , and they are n o t . 4 "A c e t t e h e u r e - l a , de toute facon, i l e s t a l a s a l l e de j e u . — J e vous a v a i s prevenue que je v i e n d r a i s . En a r r i v a n t j ' a i trouve t o u t e s l e s p o r t e s e n t r ' o u v e r t e s . Vous connaissez d e j a l a s u i t e . " (p. 120) T h i s sequence i s dramatic i n t h a t i t i s the f i r s t proposed v i s i t o± A by X i n her bedroom, which u l t i m a t e l y i s the focus of the l a s t p a r t of Marienbad. A has a l r e a d y appeared to agree with X, which b u i l d s up t e n s i o n . At the same time, we, l i k e A, are becoming t i r e d of t h i s game. "Non, non,non! ...Jene connais pas l a s u i t e . . . ce l i t r i d i c u l e , c e t t e cheminee avec son m i r o i r . . . X : Quel m i r o i r ? Q u e l l e cherainee?" 81 These r e f e r a n t s are d e l i c i o u s l y ambiguous. I don't r e a l l y b e l i e v e t h a t A i s trapped by the "Truth" as she "remembers" these d e t a i l s . A bed and a f i r e p l a c e are common enough to any bedroom i n an o l d chateau. X takes these d e t a i l s to s t a r t d e s c r i b i n g the e n t i r e bedroom scene. In the s c r i p t t here i s a b r a c e l e t which X says she gave to him as "un gage." Once again X p l a y s the r o l e of the romantic hero who has f u l f i l l e d the c h a l l e n g e s e t bef o r e him, having r e t u r n e d a f t e r a year o f absence wi t h the beloved's r i n g , as a s i g n of h i s f i d e l i t y and t r u s t w o r t h i n e s s . "Ne reconnaissez-vous non p l u s , ce b r a c e l e t ? Si...Non... J ' a i eu a u t r e f o i s un b r a c e l e t de ce genre. E t q u ' e s t - i l devenu... C ' e t a i t l'annee d e r n i e r e . Et vous ne l'avez pas perdu. Vous me l'avez l a i s s e ' comme un gage. Votre nom e s t grave sur l e fe r m o i r . ...Mais c ' e s t l e prenom l e p l u s courant ... Et to u t e s l e s p e r l e s se ressemblent... des b r a c e l e t s comme ga, i l d o i t y en a v o i r des c e n t a i n e s . . . X: Supposez done que ce s o i t l e v a t r e , et que j e l ' a i e trouve " (p. 124). In the f i l m u n f o r t u n a t e l y t h i s r e f e r e n c e was not used. Once again what seems l i k e a safe b i t of proof of the t r u t h of which X i s c o n s t a n t l y expounding i s exposed to be onl y tenuous proo f . But the name A c o u l d be "Anne" which is . a common enough name. A b r a c e l e t i n our modern world i s common enough and mass produced so t h a t even such an ap p a r e n t l y p e r s o n a l item as t h i s i s consequently no proof o f intimacy at a l l . T h i s i s p r e c i s e l y the s u p p o s i t i o n which X i s demanding t h a t we as s p e c t a t o r s and A as " v i c t i m " should make. Yet by say i n g t h i s , X would be imply i n g t h a t he had j u s t found i t and c o n s t r u c t e d h i s whole s t o r y upon d e t a i l s such as these. 82 "Vous avez t o u j o u r s eu peur ... je vous a i p r i s e a m o i t i e de f o r c e . " (p. 126) Here a t l a s t we have the f i r s t d i r e c t (Blunt as opposed to oblique) r e f e r e n c e to sex. However, we don't f u l l y know t h a t M i s the husband. He may j u s t be the chaperone who i s n e v e r t h e l e s s p r o t e c t i n g her innocence. Yet the sexual encounter s t i l l remains ambiguous: d i d i t occur or not? "Probablement, ca n ' e t a i t pas de f o r c e ... Mais c ' e s t vous seulement q u i l e savez " (p. 126). S u b j e c t i v i t y i s very u n c e r t a i n . Imagine i n a t r i a l of r a p e i he the accused i n d i c a t e s o n l y t h a t the v i c t i m knows the t r u t h . What does she say or t h i n k i f t h i s event never took p l a c e ? What a powerful " p e r s u a s i v e " phrase to use! Only you know f o r sure. "X: Qu'y a t - i l ? A: Ce n'est r i e n . X: Vous etes f a t i g u e e . A: Un peu o u i j e c r o i s . X: Nous a l l o n s r e n t r e r s i vous v o u l e z . A: S i vous voulez " (p. 128). The s p e c t a t o r s c o u l d be the t i r e d ones here. T h i s c o n v e r s a t i o n i s banal enough to f i t e a s i l y i n t o X's c o n s t r u c t i o n s o f the pas t . Here A t w i s t s her ankle and i s helped out by X. (Let us not f o r g e t the r e f e r e n c e to "un t a l o n b r i s e " from the beginni n g : "une chaussure au t a l o n b r i s e " [p. 42])» "C'est ce j o u r - l a que. vous m'avez donne l e p e t i t b r a c e l e t b l a n c . Et vous m'avez demande de vous l a i s s e r une annee e n t i e r e , pensant p e u t - e t r e a i n s i me mettre a l'epreuve ... ou me l a s s e r ... ou m'oublier vous me\ne " (p. 130). Here i s the e p i c f e a t u r e of a g a l l a n t hero put to the t e s t of w a i t i n g f o r an e n t i r e year before r e t u r n i n g to c l a i m h i s beloved. Of course time i s no o b j e c t f o r those who t r u l y l o v e ! Did she t r y 83 to f o r g e t him and succeed too w e l l ? "A: Qu'est-ce q u i vous donne c e t t e c e r t i t u d e ? P a r t i r pour a l l e r ou? X: N'importe ou. . . je ne s a i s pas." (pp. 130-131) I t i s i r o n i c t h a t d e s p i t e a l l of t h i s man's assumed c e r t a i n t y as to what happened i n the past, he i s vague about the a c t u a l s p e c i f i c s of a d e s t i n a t i o n . Did X not t h i n k he c o u l d get t h i s f a r ? Does t h i s prove t h a t he i s j u s t i n v e n t i n g t h e i r past as he goes along? He i m p l i e s t h a t what i s important i s t h a t they be t o g e t h e r . But as soon as she t e l l s him to get l o s t i f there i s no f u t u r e d e s t i n a t i o n f o r them, he becomes h y s t r i o n i c . "A: Vous voyez b i e n . I I vaut mieux nous separer pour t o u j o u r s . " (p.131) you mean no t h i n g to me. You have ye t to convince me of the r e a l i t y o f l a s t year. L e t ' s j u s t end our r e l a t i o n s h i p (past and present) r i g h t here. "X: Ce n'est pas v r a i que nous avons b e s o i n de 1'absence, de l a s o l i t u d e , de l ' e t e r n e l l e a t t e n t e . " (p. 131) He over-dramatizes the s i t u a t i o n , i m p l y i n g h i s s t a t u r e as the g r e a t r e j e c t e d , l o n g - s u f f e r i n g , spurned "Romeo." He wants to sound wounded and g i v e the impression t h a t a l r e a d y , s i n c e l a s t year he has waited so very long. But he manipulates A once more by h a r p i n g on her f e a r . Wouldn't anyone be a f r a i d of someone who f o r an hour and a h a l f kept i n v a l i d a t i n g one's memory i n t h i s anguish provoking way? "X: Mais i l e s t t r o p t a r d maintenant." (p. 136) The game i s lost/won? What e x a c t l y i s too l a t e ? T h i s phrase of course i s a double e n t e n t r e par e x c e l l e n c e . I t i s too l a t e f o r you, I (X) have won. I t i s too l a t e f o r me (A you have won) the b a t t l e of T r u t h , 84 or r e a l i t y , or the game of i l l u s i o n . "Je ne s a i s q u e l l e sce*ne v i o l e n t e a v a i t l i e u e n t r e vous un i n s t a n t auparavant." (p.134) Assuming t h i s i s a c r e a t i o n of the p a s t , X i s c l e v e r to d w e l l upon the f e e l i n g s of A toward M — Fear. M does look s i n i s t e r , , even though he i s always a p o l i s h e d gentleman as the camera presents him. Here once again there i s a c o n f l i c t between what X says and what A does (pp. 133-135). I t i s as though the b a t t l e between t h e i r w i l l s i s played out i n the bedroom, where X e v e n t u a l l y says he took her by f o r c e . Voix de X: P u i s vous eVes retournee v e r s l e l i t . . . J^ndecise d'abord, ne sachant d'abord o u ^ a l l e r . . . vous etes retournee jyers l e l i t , vous vous y etes a s s i s e , apres e t r e r e s t e e quelques secondes, quelques minutes meme p e u t - e t r e , inde*cise, ne sachant ou a l l e r ou que f a i r e , regardant d r o i t devant vous dans l e v i d e . Et vous etes retournee v e r s l e l i t . . . Oh ecoutez-moi... rappelez-vous... Ecoutez-moi, je vous en s u p p l i e . . . Oui... i l y a v a i t . Oui c ' e s t v r a i , i l y a v a i t un grand m i r o i r , j u s t e aupres de l a p o r t e , un m i r o i r immense... Mais vous vous entetez a f a i r e semblant de ne pas me c r o i r e . Ou etes-vous? Ou £*tes-vous p a r t i e ? Pourquoi v o u l o i r t o u j o u r s vous echapper? C'est t r o p t a r d . C ' e t a i t t r o p t a r d d e j a . (p. 134) T h i s i s a r e p e t i t i o n o f the same c o m p e t i t i o n between what i s s a i d by X and what A performs b e f o r e our very eyes. (Compare t h i s to the f i r s t i n s t a n c e of V i s u a l / T e x t u a l Dissonance p. 69 d i s c u s s e d i n Chapter Two.) I t i s very s t a r t l i n g , and now almost beyond words, to see such a dissonance. We r e a l l y do not want to b e l i e v e i t , but we cannot deny what i s happening r i g h t before our very eyes and e a r s . I t a l s o seems i r o n i c , t h a t X does not want to admit the presence of a m i r r o r which A i n t h i s scene g r a v i t a t e s towards. A m i r r o r both t e l l s the a b s o l u t e t r u t h (Snow White and 85 the Seven Dwarves) and y e t t w i s t s the t r u t h by i n v e r t i n g i t . The p r e s e n t a t i o n a l immediacy of f i l m , then, not o n l y can p r o v i d e us the pure b l i n d joy t h a t Santayana c a l l e d beauty but a l s o can open our eyes. Because of i t s p e c u l i a r a b i l i t i e s to warp time and space, i t can r e s h u f f l e our p a s t and can renew the game of l i f e . T h i s may be and o f t e n i s p a i n f u l . 4 Throughout t h i s f i n a l p a r t of Marienbad, many scenes appear which remind one of the r e s t of the f i l m we have a l r e a d y seen. To avoid monotonous r e p e t i t i o n , I have l e f t out or commented l i t t l e about scenes which are repeated. The problem i s how to convey the same scenes through words i n a new way. As new approaches to o l d scenes are presented, they are i n f a c t f a s c i n a t i n g , not b o r i n g . But i n a c o n s t r u c t i v e sense they add no f u r t h e r comment to the c r i t i q u e ( f o r l i t t l e has changed). They add more c o n v i c t i o n of the r e a l i t y of these scenes having taken p l a c e . The more we see an a c t i o n repeated i n Marienbad, the more i n c l i n e d we are to b e l i e v e i n i t s r e a l i t y . "Quelle preuve vous f a u d r a i t - i l encore?" (pp. 136-137) Have you ever seen or heard of such an ambiguous b i t of proof? And yet the camera i s supposed to t e l l the t r u t h and yet at the same time we know how much the camera d i s t o r t s and c r e a t e s . For example, p r o f e s s i o n a l models do not look the same on t h e i r own, o u t s i d e a s t u d i o , or wearing no make-up. T h i s i s the epitome of ambiguous p r o o f . T h i s p i c t u r e c o u l d have been taken anywhere. X c o u l d have even found i t among A or M's b e l o n g i n g s . E s p e c i a l l y s i n c e he seems to have so much knowledge (too much knowledge -- 86 he i s l i k e a d e t e c t i v e who knows too much) about t h e i r rooms, both the past and the p r e s e n t . Looking around the room, A glances at v a r i o u s o b j e c t s as though she were judging them. There are three d i f f e r e n t shots of more o b j e c t s , three v i s u a l . s e q u e n c e s of her walking; she f a l l s on the bed f o u r times i n a t h e a t r i c a l shot. T h i s sequence p o i n t s to the f i n a l meeting between A and M. The p r e s e n t a t i o n of t h i s scene i s an example of how Resnais produces meaning from movement vs. s t a s i s . As a c t i o n s are repeated we have the f e e l i n g of great movement. But i n f a c t t h i s i s r e p e t i t i o n of one motion. We f e e l as though t h e r e i s p r o g r e s s i o n , but i t i s o n l y r e p e t i t i o n . Although A i s l o o k i n g at the most o r d i n a r y t h i n g s , a m i r r o r , a comb e t c . , they take on meaning because she looks at them. The p r o l i f e r a t i o n of o b j e c t s around her i s made to appear f r i g h t e n i n g and ominous, g i v e n the o b s e s s i v e way i n which A looks around the room at o b j e c t s which appear and disappear — appearing to grow from A's anguished mental s t a t e or the p h y s i c a l space surrounding A h e r s e l f . The ambiguity of M's v i s i t i s haunting: i s . he here to q u e s t i o n A? Does he know of her plans with X? And t h a t she has been spending time with him? C o n t r a d i c t i o n s between what i s presented on screen and t h e i r d i a l o g u e take p l a c e , so t h a t we can t r u s t n e i t h e r what we see, nor what we hear. Each sense g i v e s us a d i f f e r e n t s t o r y . We hear h i s knock, but we do not hear her say "Entrez!" which while speaking to him she c l a i m s to have s a i d . (Therefore i s t h i s a b s o l u t e proof that, she i s a l i a r o r t h a t she l i e s from time to time?) M q u e s t i o n s A about 87 the photograph. He p o i n t s out the f a l l a c y of what A has been.led to b e l i e v e from t a l k i n g to X. (Franck was not here l a s t year.) He announces t h a t they w i l l have lunch with P a t t e r s o n i f she has no o t h e r - p l a n s . She says, "of course I have no other p l a n s , " and y e t a c c o r d i n g t o X, she i s to leave with him the f o l l o w i n g day. We hear the sound of s u s p e n s e f u l b e a t i n g ( l i k e a h e a r t , drum, shots, or c l o c k ) . She i s l i k e a b i r d on the bed — shot though s e d u c t i v e . (She gestures towards the camera (X) to be q u i e t . ) There i s c o n t r a d i c t i o n i n her g e t t i n g shot — yet s t i l l b eing a l i v e — not onl y as X t a l k s to her but a l s o , l y i n g t h e r e , as she t e l l s the camera t o shhhl Should we b e l i e v e t h i s scene t o be the product of the o v e r l y romantic i m a g i n a t i o n o f X? I t i s o n l y now a f t e r having viewed Marienbad a t l e a s t twenty times and s t u d y i n g the s c r i p t i n t e n s e l y t h a t I r e a l i z e t h a t i n watching the movie I never made any d i s t i n c t i o n between the v a r y i n g t r u t h f u l n e s s o f these v a r i o u s endings t o Marienbad. Because they were presented on f i l m , t h e r e f o r e they were a l l seen, they a l l had equal v a l i d i t y i n my mind. Once again the very power of a photograph i m p l i e s t h a t what i s shown i s r e a l . U l t i m a t e l y i t i s hard to j u s t i f y one scene over another. I t i s as though they a l l took p l a c e and none took p l a c e : they were i n someone's mind and t h e r e was no d i s t i n c t i o n made between what was imagined and what r e a l l y happened. Close up of a snowy p i c t u r e . I t i s a p i c t u r e of three people on horses i n the snow. We are reminded of a sequence of d i a l o g u e from the opening scenes. " C e t a i t une s u r v e i l l a n c e plutot 88 b i z a r r e , b i e n entendu. I l (Franck) p r e t e n d a i t l u i donner des e x p l i c a t i o n s sur l e s tableaux anciens q u i se t r o u v a i e n t chez e l l e . I I n'y a v a i t pas un seul t a b l e a u dans l a chambre." (p. 4 3 ) T h i s r e f e r e n c e of a man e x p l a i n i n g a r t to A c o u l d r e f e r to e i t h e r X or M. The f a c t t h a t X and A are never r e f e r r e d to by name g i v e s them more scope w i t h i n which our imaginations can p l a y . By being nameless, X and A e x i s t o n l y as the people whom we see on the screen i n t h i s Movie. R o b b e - G r i l l e t wrote about the Nouveau Roman t h a t people whom we see randomly i n our l i v e s are no l e s s r e a l because they are "Nameless" or because we do not know t h e i r p e r s o n a l b i o g r a p h i e s ( c f . the r e a l i s t i c novels i n which we are given a m i l l i o n i n t i m a t e d e t a i l s about c h a r a c t e r s and t h e i r l i v e s ) . In Madame Bovary f o r example, we know the background of Emma and her husband too w e l l . We are pr o v i d e d w i t h d e t a i l s of emotions, e x p l a n a t i o n s f o r a c t i o n s , the meaning of c o l o u r s . I t i s a world o v e r f l o w i n g with sense and meaning. L i t t l e i s l e f t to the im a g i n a t i o n , Emma might be b e t t e r known and e x p l a i n a b l e to us, than people i n our r e a l l i v e s . Emma t h e r e f o r e appears to be r e a l . In Marienbad the a e s t h e t i c i s from an o p p o s i t e p o l e . We know a b s o l u t e l y n o t h i n g about A and X. We see t h e i r a c t i o n s , hear t h e i r words, but not h i n g i s e x p l a i n e d . I t i s as though we met st r a n g e r s f o r an hour and a h a l f on a t r a i n and a l l we d i d was observe t h e i r a c t i o n s and hear t h e i r words. A and X by being nameless can a l s o take on the p o s s i b i l i t i e s of many c h a r a c t e r s as the s c r i p t a l l u d e s to c l a s s i c a l m y t h i c a l s e t t i n g s . By not having a name to r e f e r t o , we as s p e c t a t o r s 89 are c o n s t a n t l y seeking new names to apply to them. T h i s seems l i k e a r e a l scene (pp. 158-159). (Attendre un an romantic/Death) Due to the t r i p l e r e p e t i t i o n here of v i r t u a l l y the same scene, we are made to b e l i e v e i n the r e a l i t y of t h i s wait of one year. T h i s scene i s play e d out almost a t the end of the movie because i t i s a t t h i s p o i n t i n the exchange between A and X t h a t she appears convinced by h i s s t o r y and w i l l i n g to b e l i e v e what X has been t e l l i n g her a l l along. The r e l a t i o n s h i p between X and time i m p l i e s e i t h e r the mythic l o v e r f o r whom time i s no o b j e c t , Fate or Death f o r whom time would be of l i t t l e consequence. T h i s scene o f suspended w a i t i n g — as k i n g f o r more time, a year, and then "quelques heures" — i s the f i n a l o b s t a c l e between A and X which i s thrown up at the l a s t minute be f o r e A f i n a l l y y i e l d s t o X. A i s q u i t e a l l u r i n g , as she says she does not have much courage. She p l a y s again ( e i t h e r " r e a l l y " or i n . X's mind) the r o l e of a "damsel" i n d i s t r e s s who needs help from the dominant male, e i t h e r X or M, to make a move. "Et une f o i s de p l u s j e m'avan^ais l e long des me\nes c o u l o i r s , marchant depuis des j o u r s , depuis des mois, depuis des annees a v o t r e r e n c o n t r e . I l n'y a u r a i t pas d 1 a r r e t p o s s i b l e . Entre ces murs, pas de repos... Je . p a r t i r a i ce s o i r vous emmenant avec moi " (pp. 164-165). The f i n a l i t y o f these words b r i n g about the ending. What X says becomes r e a l i t y . The power of words evokes r e a l i t y . X i s the w r i t e r of A's f i c t i o n / r e a l i t y ! How can he be so sure? He i s j u s t g i v i n g h i m s e l f c o n f i d e n c e , while adding more c r e d i b i l i t y to the whole s t o r y . " I l . y a u r a i t " — why the c o n d i t i o n a l ? T h i s c o u l d r e f e r to the p o s s i b i l i t y or s u p p o s i t i o n o f v a r i o u s r e a l i t i e s . Is he imagining what might 9 0 have happened but d i d n ' t ? I f A were not to leave with X, we c o u l d simply b e l i e v e t h a t X had invented the s t o r y and was p l a y i n g with her memory and mind. The f a c t t h a t she does go with him leaves the q u e s t i o n of the v e r a c i t y of h i s claims ambiguous. Did they meet l a s t year?—we simply do not know. T h i s ambiguity i s maintained as A l o s e s h e r s e l f i n the garden with X. Even i n g i v i n g i n t o h i s s t o r y , she i s not l i b e r a t e d , but e n t e r s a world e q u a l l y as enigmatic as the chateau where she was e n d l e s s l y pursued. I f she were to have simply t r i c k e d X by a r r a n g i n g to be rescued by M at the l a s t minute, one might t h i n k t h a t she was p l a y i n g the Marienbad game i n bad f a i t h . We have been m i s l e d and t h i s type of ending would be u n s a t i s f y i n g as being too easy. We have been hoping f o r an answer to t h i s q u e s t i o n a l l along and i t would be d i s a p p o i n t i n g t o f i n d out the a b s o l u t e t r u t h about l a s t year. Marienbad ends where i t began, at the p l a y . We have been e n t e r t a i n e d by a world which r e f l e c t s i t s e l f e n d l e s s l y . Time has no l i m i t i n t h i s f i c t i o n a l space. The past resembles the p r e s e n t . Even though the b e g i n n i n g and ending of the movie take p l a c e with the p l a y , we cannot say t h a t one episode i s more t r u t h f u l t h a n the o t h e r . Even though i t seems i m p o s s i b l e to our minds concerned with c h r o n o l o g i c a l sequence, both of these times are one and the same, while a l s o being d i f f e r e n t . But t h i s i s p r e c i s e l y what has been performed with " l a s t year" and " t h i s year," the year t h a t we have watched u n f o l d a t Marienbad. The i m p o s s i b l e becomes probable on f i l m where boundaries are p l a y e d with to a l l o w a m u l t i p l i c i t y of p o s s i b i l i t i e s . 91 NOTES Chapter 3 1. W i l l i a m F. Van Wert, The F i l m Career of A l a i n R o b b e - G r i l l e t (Boston: G.K. H a l l and Co., 1977), p. 20. 2. See the second photo between pages 96 and 97, A l a i n Robbe- G r i l l e t , L'Annee D e r n i e r e a Marienbad. 3. A l l r e f e r e n c e s to the B i b l e are to the King James v e r s i o n , Genesis 1:3. 4. James Monaco, A l a i n Resnais (New York: Oxford University- Press, 1979), p. 35. 5. George W i l l i a m Linden, R e f l e c t i o n s on the Screen (Belmont, C a l i f o r n i a : Wadsworth P u b l i s h i n g Co., 1970), p. 86. 92 CONCLUSION How can one conclude something which has no end? Marienbad ends where i t began with the performance of the p l a y Rosmer. Since the beginning of Marienbad r e t u r n s at the end, time has entered a loop: there i s no beginning, there i s no r e a l end, there i s o n l y e t e r n i t y . The whole movie i n a sense i s supposed to have o c c u r r e d a f t e r the p r e s e n t a t i o n of the p l a y which comes at the end of the movie. M attends the p l a y , whereas A and X do not. They leave the chateau f o r an e t e r n a l adventure i n the garden. An a n a l y s i s of X's f i n a l words to A can present the Marienbad world i n a n u t s h e l l . Voix de X: Le pare de c e t h o t e l e t a i t une s o r t e de j a r d i n a l a f r a n c a i s e , sans a r b r e , sans f l e u r , sans v e g e t a t i o n aucune... Le g r a v i e r , l a p i e r r e , l e marbre, l a l i g n e d r o i t e , y marquaient des espaces r i g i d e s , des s u r f a c e s sans mystere. I I semblait, au premier abord, i m p o s s i b l e de s'y p e r d r e . . . au premier abord... l e long des a l l e e s r e c t i l i g n e s , e ntre l e s s t a t u e s aux gestes f i g e s e t l e s d a l l e s de g r a n i t , ou vous e t i e z maintenant deja en t r a i n de vous perdre, pour t o u j o u r s , dans l a n u i t t r a n q u i l l e , s e u l e avec moi. La musique prend e n s u i t e l e dessus. (p. 172) Once again the present i s mixed i n w i t h the p a s t . In the f i n a l sentence the imperfect tense "vous e t i e z " i s p l a c e d a l o n g s i d e "maintenant" and " t o u j o u r s . " T h i s i s the game of Marienbad which t r i e s t o be and a c t i n two or more p l a c e s at the same time. E n i g m a t i c a l l y A was a l r e a d y i n the a c t of l o s i n g h e r s e l f , alone 93 (yet) w ith X f o r e v e r . T h i s i s as imp o s s i b l e to imagine as i t seems i m p o s s i b l e to imagine the s t o r y of L'Annee Derni e r e a Marienbad t a k i n g p l a c e a f t e r the p l a y which appears i n the beginn i n g at the end. But t h i s quest of the i m p o s s i b l e i s p r e c i s e l y what Resnais and R o b b e - G r i l l e t s e t out to entangle the audience i n . T h i s essay began as a comparison between R e s n a i s 1 f i r s t f e a t u r e f i l m Hiroshima Mon Amour i n which the p r o t a g o n i s t s , a French a c t r e s s and a Japanese a r c h i t e c t , endup f o r e v e r i n a h o t e l room of Hiroshima as they name one another. E l l e : Je t ' o u b l i e r a i ! Je t ' o u b l i e deja*. Regarde, comme j e t ' o u b l i e ! Regarde-moi! II l a regarde, t a n d i s q u ' e l l e l e regarde comme e l l e r e g a r d e r a i t l a v i l l e e t l ' a p p e l l e t o u t a coup t r e s doucement. E l l e 1' ajspelle^ " au l o i n , " dans 1' emerveillement. E l l e a r e u s s i a l e noyer dans l ' o u b l i u n i v e r s e l . E l l e en e s t emerveille'e. E l l e : Hi-ro-shi-ma. Hi-ro-shi-ma. C'est ton nom. l i s se regardent sans se v o i r . Pour t o u j o u r s . L u i : C'est mon nom. Oui. [On en e s t l a seulement encore. Et on r e s t e r a l a pour t o u j o u r s . ] Ton nom a t o i e s t Nevers. Ne-vers-en-France. F I N 1 Both these f i l m s have succeeded i n t h e i r endings to have giv e n an e t e r n a l moment. There i s no r e a l Ending. The man and woman of Hiroshima Mon Amour are trapped f o r e v e r i n t h a t room. They do not leave i t f o r a b l i s s f u l e x i s t e n c e i n Hiroshima. Likewise i n Marienbad A and X are f o r e v e r trapped i n the garden; n e i t h e r do they go o f f to death, nor do they f i n d a new l i f e . 94 Movies appear to be r e a l . They "talk to us of " r e a l l i f e , " but u l t i m a t e l y they are o n l y a e s t h e t i c c r e a t i o n s . We so d e s p e r a t e l y want r e a l l i f e and a l l i t s emotions from f i l m but Marienbad and Hiroshima Mon Amour e m p h a t i c a l l y r e s i s t our f u l f i l l i n g our wishes. One i s tempted t o f i n a l i z e , to say t h a t Marienbad focuses perhaps around the stat u e i n the garden o f the man and woman. They are f o r e v e r trapped i n A r t , j u s t as A and X only l i v e f o r n i n e t y - f o u r minutes, the time needed f o r the f i l m to e l a p s e . They e x i s t nowhere e l s e but on f i l m . They on l y l i v e f o r the time t h a t they engage us i n t h e i r i n t r i g u e . But t h i s i s j u s t one p o s s i b l e emphasis. Marienbad t r i e d s e d u c t i v e l y to make us c o n j e c t u r e and guess as to whether X's s t o r y i s t r u e or not, or to what extent A and X are tr u e or f a l s e . How much does the f i l m r e v e a l or conc e a l from the r e a l adventure of what happened l a s t year at Marienbad? We are meant to be taken i n , to t r y our best t o f i n d an answer, but we are to remain l o s t i n the search f o r t h i s c o n c l u s i o n . We are only o f f e r e d L'Annee D e r n i e r e a Marienbad as a l u d i c p u z z l e . We are given no answers, we cannot win a game which M (Marienbad?) always wins. But we are to pl a y as o f t e n as we watch the f i l m . Marienbad on l y e x i s t s i n the p l a y i n g of i t s game — r e a c t i n g to the t e a s i n g of i t s contours we must l o s e o u r s e l v e s with A and X i n the garden, f o r e v e r . 95 NOTES Co n c l u s i o n 1. Marguerite Duras, Hiroshima Mon Amour ( P a r i s : G a l l i m a r d , 1960), p. 101. The passage c i t e d i n br a c k e t s was l e f t out of the a c t u a l f i l m d i a l o g u e . 96 BIBLIOGRAPHY Andrew, J . Dudley. The Major F i l m T h e o r i e s : An I n t r o d u c t i o n . New York: Oxford U n i v e r s i t y Press, 1976. Armes, Roy. The Ambiguous Image: N a r r a t i v e S t y l e i n Modern European Cinema. Bloomington: Indiana U n i v e r s i t y Press, 1976. The F i l m s of A l a i n R o b b e - G r i l l e t . Amsterdam: John Benjamins B.V., 1981. Boyum, Jay Gould, and Adrienne S c o t t . F i l m as F i l m . Boston: A l l y n & Bacon, 1971. Burch, Noel. Theory of F i l m P r a c t i c e . New York: Praeger, 1973. .Casebi-er, A l l a n . F i l m A p p r e c i a t i o n . New York: Harcourt Brace J o v a n o v i t c h , 1976. Casares, A d o l f o Bioy. La Invencion de Morel. Madrid: E d i c i o n e s Catedra, 1982. "Charles l e I I I . " Le Robert D i c t i o n n a i r e U n i v e r s e l Des Noms Propres. 1984 ed. Chasseguet-Smirgel, j a n i n e . Pour une Psychoanalyse de l ' A r t de l a C r e a t i v i t e . P a r i s : Payot, 1971. Duras, Marg u e r i t e . Hiroshima Mon Amour, Scenario et D i a l o g u e s . P a r i s : G a l l i m a r d , 1960. H a r r i n g t o n , John. The R h e t o r i c of F i l m . New York: H o l t , R i n e h a r t & Winston, 1973. Geduld, Harry M., ed. F i l m Makers on Film-Making. Bloomington: Indiana U n i v e r s i t y Press, 1967. Kael, P a u l i n e . "The Come-Dressed - a s - t h e - s i c k - s o u l - o f - E u r o p e P a r t i e s . " In I L o s t i t a t the Movies. Boston: A t l a n t i c Monthly Press, 1965. . I n t r o d u c t i o n to L a s t Tango i n P a r i s . Bernardo B e r t o l u c c i and Franco A r c a l l i . New York: D e l a c o r t e Press, 1973. K r e i d l , John F r a n c i s . A l a i n Resnais. Boston: Twayne P u b l i s h e r s , 1977. Labarthe, Andre S., and Jacques R i v e t t e . " E n t r e t i e n avec Resnais e t R o b b e - G r i l l e t . " In C a h i e r s du Cinema, No. 123 (September 1961) . 97 Lawson, John Howard. F i l m : The C r e a t i v e Process, r e v i s e d ed. New York: H i l l and Wang, 1967. Leenhardt, Jacques. L e c t u r e p o l i t i q u e du roman. P a r i s : E d i t i o n s de M i n u i t , 1973. Linden, George W i l l i a m . R e f l e c t i o n s on the Screen. Belmont, C a l i f o r n i a : Wadsworth P u b l i s h i n g Co., 1970. Michalczyk, John J . The French L i t e r a r y Filmmakers. Cranbury, New J e r s e y : A s s o c i a t e d U n i v e r s i t y P r e s s , 1980. Monaco, James. A l a i n Resnais. New York: Oxford U n i v e r s i t y Press, 1979. How to Read a F i l m . New York: Oxford U n i v e r s i t y Press, 1977. The New Wave — T r u f f a u t , Godard, Chabrol, Rohmer, R i v e t t e . New York: Oxford U n i v e r s i t y Press, 1-976 . M o r r i s s e t t e , Bruce. The Novels of R o b b e - G r i l l e t . I t h a c a : C o r n e l l U n i v e r s i t y Press, 1971. Les Romans de R o b b e - G r i l l e t . P a r i s : E d i t i o n s de M i n u i t , 1963. Rei s z , K a r e l and Gavin M i l l a r . The Technique of F i l m E d i t i n g . London: F o c a l Press, 1968. Rhode, E r i c . Tower of Babel: S p e c u l a t i o n s on the Cinema. P h i l a d e p h i a and New York: C h i l t o n Books, 196 7. R o b b e - G r i l l e t , A l a i n . L'Annee De r n i e r e a Marienbad. P a r i s : Les E d i t i o n s de M i n u i t , 1961. Pour un Nouveau Roman. P a r i s : Les E d i t i o n s de M i n u i t , 1963 . S c o t t , Nathan A. J r . Negative C a p a b i l i t y : S t u d i e s i n the New L i t e r a t u r e and the R e l i g i o u s S i t u a t i o n . New Haven and London: Yale U n i v e r s i t y Press, 1969. S i t w e l l , P a c h e v e r e l l , ed. Great Houses of Europe. London: Weidenfeld and N i c o l s o n , 1961. S t o l t z f u s , Ben F. A l a i n R o b b e - G r i l l e t and The New French Novel. Chicago: Southern I l l i n o i s U n i v e r s i t y Press, 1964. Sweet, Freddy. The F i l m N a r r a t i v e s of A l a i n Resnais. Ann Arbour, Michigan: UMI Research Press, 1981. T y l e r , Parker. Magic and Myth of the Movies. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1970. 98 "The Lady C a l l e d 'A,' Or I f J u l e s and Jim Had Only L i v e d at Marienbad." In The Three Faces of F i l m . South Brunswick and New York: A.S. Barnes, 1967. Van Wert, W i l l i a m F. The F i l m Career of A l a i n R o b b e - G r i l l e t . Boston: G.K. H a l l and Co., 1977. Wagner, G e o f f r e y . The Novel and the Cinema. Cranbury, New J e r s e y : A s s o c i a t e d U n i v e r s i t y Press, 1975. Ward, John. A l a i n Resnais or The Theme of Time. Garden C i t y , New York: Doubleday & Co., 1968. Weygerans, Franz. Comprendre l e Cinema. B u x e l l e s : O f f i c e I n t e r n a t i o n a l de L i b r a i r i e , 1970. Wollen, Pe t e r . Signs and Meaning i n the Cinema. London: Cinema One S e r i e s , 1969. Zwemmer, A. French Cinema Since 1946. London: A.S. Barnes, 1970. V o l . 1 & 2.

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