Last Year at Marienbad

What a strange movie. The camera pans over a ornate house filled with puppet characters who are never given dialogue worth noting. At least twice I missed dialogue because I didn’t read the subtitles, but it didn’t mar the movie. This may have been because none of the dialogue has any import, or because what I missed had been said a dozen times already, or because I didn’t miss the lines at all, but only thought I must have.

For all the oddity of the movie, it was fascinating. It is like a who done it where the who is know and the it is questioned. What was done, or left undone? Nabokov criticized Dostoevsky and claimed that people who loved his novels mistook vacuity for mystery. That might be the case here, but it doesn’t seem to matter since you are more interested in seeing something, anything, rather than deceitful story you are telling and hoping you yourself might believe.

This film is violent in the way Scorsese’s ‘The Age of Innocence’ is. The narrator repeats again and again the same few lines and is repulsed by the girl, but she does begin to yield and a story and a pass do being to emerge in spite of every effort to reject them. Where Scorsese pits his characters against the fixed rules of society, Last Year at Marienbad pits our desire to know what is what against a desire to repress the unseemly in our past.

I thought this movie was fascinating, but won’t recommend it because I can’t think of anyone who I would recommend it to. If you watch it let me know what you think.

Divided We Fall

This Czech movie is pleasant enough to watch, but seems to love the strangeness of its plot twists just a little too much. It takes an odd crowd and insures their intimate proximity is left to stew into strange and perplexing situations. There are too many quirky circumstances for the film to properly introduce before they cause baffling solutions. We are left half-wondering what exactly is going on and whether their solutions are the only available ones while we should be focusing on appreciating the climax. I don’t surf, but I would imagine sitting on a board in a sea too choppy to ride a wave would elicit a feeling similar to that felt while watching this movie.

Some of the scenes are beautiful and some are touching, but in the moments of excitement and confusion the camera-work manages to confuse without exciting us.

It is good to show that in order to stand against oppression you must unite, but when uniting seems to demand that you let your wife become impregnated by a harbored jew and the baby delivered by a man who has tried to rape her there is no satisfaction. Instead you are left wondering if the film isn’t throwing out all morality (with the well accepted caveat that Nazis are evil) and claiming that in this dog eat dog world we must do whatever we can just to stay alive.