PDF The Films of Alain Robbe-Grillet

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Of course not, I simply did not have the necessary cultural baggage to appreciate these difficult films.

Alain Robbe-Grillet

We all too often forget that it takes years and countless screenings to be able to appreciate some of the great masterpieces of the 7th art. I began to really appreciate the work of Robbe-Grillet by means of his novels. To plunge into the work of an author whose work left me profoundly dissatisfied seemed contradictory.

By reading literary essays extolling the genius of this writer, I quickly learned that I had perhaps missed the boat and that it was necessary to give this writer a second chance. I began by attacking Gommes , his first published book, but through a combination of circumstances which would have pleased Robbe-Grillet, my copy of the novel began to fall apart and I lost several pages.

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Alain Robbe-Grillet makes literature an intellectual laboratory where he exploits all her possibilities. Everything becomes an object of experimentation, whether through a continually shifting focus between an intradiegetic character and an omniscient storyteller, a narrative that intermingles into infinity, or a linearity that completely fades away.

It often becomes impossible to differentiate precisely between dream and reality, to the point where the form obliterates any such notions. Poor grammar or structure can lead one to pretend that with Robbe-Grillet anything goes, but his scientific descriptions give clear evidence to a precise, calculated procedure and an indisputable mastery of the literary object.

Won over by his writings, I quickly searched out his films.

The quest was difficult at the time, since none of his films had the benefit of North America distribution. Thanks to a collector friend, I laid my hands on three of his films, including the delightful Trans-Europ-Express. In effect, Robbe-Grillet repeatedly interrupts the principle narrative path to send his hero, played by Jean-Louis Trintignant, in a new direction. I was, however, surprised by numerous scenes featuring fetishism, a recurrent theme in his filmography, as well as the strong dose of humour which seemed to me absent in his novels.

Alain Robbe-Grillet – The Art(s) of Slow Cinema

I discovered this humour first hand when I had the pleasure of meeting Alain Robbe-Grillet during his trip to Montreal in What a great pleasure it was to discover that behind this cold and objective writing was a bon vivant with an infectious smile. Each time Robbe-Grillet spoke it was to share an anecdote on his filmmaking career.

In other words, inventing a character or recalling a memory is part of the same process. By most accounts, Last Year at Marienbad , the text that became his first experience in screenplay writing, employed many of the same elements for which the writer had become known in his fiction work.


The cinema of Alain Robbe-Grillet

While Robbe-Grillet ardently maintained that the two forms— fiction and filmmaking —were markedly distinct, upon reflection, we can see the close interrelation between his works in different media. After writing the screenplay for Last Year at Marienbad , Robbe-Grillet went on to write screenplays for more than a dozen films and to direct 10 of those himself.

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