Best French Films - Last Year at Marienbad(1961)

Classic French Films

One of the best French films ever made, Last Year at Marienbad is on every critic’s best movies list or…worst movies list. To describe it in 3 words: controversial, sexy and sleek.

According to top movie reviews Last Year at Marienbad is one of the most influential movies to ever grace the screen and one of the most important classic French films.


Best French Films - Last Year at Marienbad


Best French Films - Movie Ratings

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Rotten Tomatoes


IMDb

Love it!

95% critics reviews

85% viewers reviews

7.8/10 critics and viewers movie reviews




Best French Films - Plot Teaser

A man and a woman meet at a luxurious hotel-palace in Europe.

The man is trying to convince the woman that they fell in love and had an affair a year ago at Marienbad, while the woman has no recollection of the events.


Best French Films - Movie Review

Every top movie critic spilled ink at some point writing a movie review on one of the best French films ever made.

Woody Allen’s character in Manhattan Murder Mystery (1993) admits that it took him 6 months to understand Last Year at Marienbad. “Who knew they were flashbacks? You know…” he says referring to the complex non-linear structure in one of the best French films.

Visually, Last Year in Marienbad is like a collection of black and white post cards – each scene is slow, almost static, like a comic strip. It is no wonder that the director of the French classic movie at one point was the owner of the largest private collection of comic books in France.

Best French Films - Last Year at Marienbad 1961

Last Year at Marienbad, one of the best classic French films, is superficially beautiful – palaces, vast gardens, tuxedos, night gowns, champagne and the only real thing is this man’s conviction that he loved and still loves this woman.

The woman is played by Delphine Seyrig, an absolutely unkown French actress at the time. It was her first role in a film, apart from a short movie she’d done before. Alain Resnais, the director, noticed her for the first time in a play in New York. He brought her stage quality to this movie. She’s almost unrecognizable because of her harsh stage-like make-up and hair style

Best French Films - Last Year in Marienbad 1961

One of her trademarks and one of the key elements in Last Year at Marienbad is her voice. At the beginning of her career, she was refused a job at a popular at the time National People’s Theatre in Paris because her voice was “too peculiar”.

Volker Schlndorff, a German filmmaker who was assistant director to Alain Resnais for this film, talks about Delphine Seyrig, “Her presence is so radiant that you can’t help loving her. I had, how should you say, a crush on her...”

Best French Films - Last Year at Marienbad 1961

It is futile to try to understand the storyline of Last Year at Marienbad – we are not meant to. When the director and the writer of the French classic movie were asked whether the main characters actually met, one answered with a “yes” and the other with a “no”.

Alain Resnais, the director of some of the best French films of all time, at the age of 90, is a patriarch of French cinema and a very active one - his new film was shown recently in competition for Palme D’Or at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. The movie, ironically, is called “You ain’t seen nothing yet”.


Best French Films - Fun Facts

The most iconic shot of this French classic film is the view of the park from the hotel’s terrace. People are standing in the wide center alley, casting long dark shadows. Meanwhile, neither the trees nor the statues have shadows. To create this surreal effect, people’s shadows were drawn on the ground.

Best French Films - Last Year at Marienbad 1961

Alain Resnais, the filmmaker, wanted the lead actress, Delphine Seyrig, to look like Louise Brooks' character in the 1929 silent film Pandora’s Box.

Louise Brooks in Pandora's Box (1929)

Best French Films - Last Year at Marienbad 1961




Delphine Seyrig in Last Year at Marienbad (1961)

Best French Films - Last Year at Marienbad 1961

Delphine Seyrig was dressed by Coco Chanel, with exception of two feathery creations.

Fashion house Chanel, inspired by Last Year at Marienbad, presented a Spring-Summer 2011 collection in Versailles with the settings stylized to resemble the French gardens in the movie.

Chanel Spring/Summer 2011 Collection

Best French Films - Last Year at Marienbad 1961



Delphine Seyrig in Last Year at Marienbad

Best French Films - Last Year at Marienbad 1961

Best French Films - Quotes

Frederic Tuten, American writer: "…But for me, Alain Resnais’s Last Year at Marienbad is a perfect work of art, not one superfluous line of dialogue or a second of wasted time. A great impervious and mysterious film."

Peter Greenaway, British film director: "…the most successful film of all time…It's one of the most intelligent films that's ever been made..."

Alain Resnais, French director: "In cinema, even in documentaries, I like to feel that we are in the movies, that the game and decorations are apparent, that it doesn’t resemble life."


Classic French Films - Movie Recommendation

If you think a linear plot and clarity in the storyline are essential, then Last Year at Marienbad might be difficult for you to appreciate. Nonetheless, you might not enjoy a Picasso, but when you see one, you most likely will appreciate it. Last Year at Marienbad is in the same league. Love or hate, you can’t help but admit – it's a masterpiece.

The French movie classic was included in the top best movies list and the top worst movies list. Be prepared for controversy.

Last Year at Marienbad, one of the best French films ever made, is now in public domain. You can watch this movie online for free.


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