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Last Year In Marienbad (Blu-ray)

Modernist masterpiece or frustrating New Wave tedium?

Disc Specs

Starring Giorgio AlbertazziDelphine SeyringSacha Pitoeff Disc Cover
Directed By Alain Resnais Certificate U
Audio DTS HD Master Audio 2.0
Visuals 1.85:1 Widescreen
Running Time 94 mins
UK Release Date September 28, 2009
Genre Drama, World Cinema
Our Rating
User Rating

Capturing the very essence and epitomising the unabashed pretention of the French New Wave, Alain Resnais’ 1961 Last Year At Marienbad, is a film that will either move you to tears with its haunting beauty, or force you to pull out your own hair in utter frustration.

The story, or what there is of one, takes place in an old castle that has been converted into a luxury hotel where noise is forbidden and the guests merely murmur the odd word to one another or themselves. One particular unnamed resident begins an infatuation with a striking female guest, who he is convinced he had an affair with her the year before at Marienbad.

A tedious and frustrating exercise in modernism on the one hand and a daring, complex puzzle of a romantic drama on the other, Last Year At Marienbad will continue to split audiences long into the future, but one thing that certainly isn’t debatable about Resnais’ movie, is its spellbinding visual beauty. Thanks to Optimum, the film gets to the chance to shine in hi-def.

Unfortunately, the picture is disappointingly grainy from the start. Dirt hasn’t been cleaned up too well, and the numerous expressionless faces of the characters don’t benefit from much detail either. Matters improve when the ‘action’ moves to the outside, where the striking triangular hedges and various statues boast shadow detail that wasn’t apparent of the DVD. However, this is a far cry from the United States’ impeccably scrubbed-up Criterion Edition Blu-ray.

The audio never really gets the chance to test the speakers, but the dialogue is clear enough (again though, the disc’s audio isn’t nearly as crisp and lovely as its US cousin).

New to the UK in terms of extras is the documentary on Alain Robbe-Grillet, a 50-minute insight into the mind of the writer/director.

Overall Verdict: A pretentious but visually stunning movie. However, this Blu-ray fails to do its beauty justice.

Special Features:
Introduction By G. Vincendeau
Two Short Films By Alain Resnais
‘Alain Robbe-Grillet’ Documentary
‘In The Labyrinth Of Marienbad’ Documentary
Trailer
BD-Live

Reviewer: Lee Griffiths

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