UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

A close reading of L'Année dernière à Marienbad by Alain Robbe-Grillet Schofer, Drew Christopher


L'Année Dernière à Marienbad is a narrative film which plays with Appearance and Reality in a baroque fashion. This thesis is an attempt to come to terms with the Marienbad world view. In the introduction are discussed the arguments against the film as expressed by Pauline Kael, as well as the commentary style of my critical approach. In the first chapter we are faced with film as high art, as the camera takes us on an architectural tour of a baroque chateau while a nameless narrator describes the set. Eventually the voice is revealed to be that of an actor in a play. In the audience discussing this play we meet our three protagonists: A, a mysterious woman; M, a man who may be her husband; and X, a man who tries to persuade her to leave with him. We are teased by meaning and symbolism at every turn as we await the plot of our story to unfold. Chapter two takes us to the gardens where we are presented a statue of a man, woman and dog. X evokes scenes from A's and his "shared" past. The style of Marienbad's editing replaces traditional Hollywood Découpage with a version its creators believe to be closer to reality as it should be presented on film. A possible reason for the number of detractors of Marienbad is discovered to be the inherent passive aggression present in the film. The final chapter outlines X's search for an ending and discusses our reactions to these various solutions. The conclusion compares the ending from Resnais's Hiroshima Mon Amour to the end of Marienbad presenting the timeless reality of fictitious film. The search for a conclusion or answer to the riddle of Marienbad however remains elusive. We are invited to encounter possibilities as often as we, an audience, encounter L'Année Dernière à Marienbad.

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