Last Year at Marienbad – Resnais’ Non-linear Loop

In Last Year at Marienbad, Resnais’ creates a surrealistic sense of filmic time and space by using alternative forms of editing and basically breaking every single rule of the classic continuity system.   First, there are multiple scenes where the editing creates an inconsistent match on action.  For example, during the initial cocktail gathering, the camera follows the POV of one of the blonde guests as she enters the bar.  As she turns her head to look behind her, the cut to the next shot shifts to her observing a completely different location in the hotel.  This is repeated in several scenes with different characters, sometimes changing both the setting and the characters clothing. This breaks any sense of linear continuity and disrupts the flow of time and space within the film.  Also the dialogue and sound are discontinuous with the narrative, sometimes referring to a point ahead or behind the current timeframe within a scene, so the temporal duration is totally abstracted.    The camera, dialogue and sound all seem to operate as separate “loops”, repeatedly overlapping each other but never really in sync (or at least a logical sync).  Fascinating film!

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