Alain Resnais

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Alain Resnais
BirthplaceVannes, Morbihan, Brittany, France

Resnais, Alain

(älăN` rānā`), 1922–2014, French filmmaker. Although not an official member of the French cinema's New Wave movement, he shared its innovative and personal approach to style, content, and narrative. His work, however, was more in the modernist literary tradition, less linear, more concerned with form and cinematic theory, and more overtly interested in social and political issues. His films also often display a unique preoccupation with time and memory.

Resnais began his career in 1947, directing short documentaries on various subjects in the arts, e.g., Van Gogh (1948, Academy Award) and a study of Picasso's Guernica (1950). The last and most acclaimed of these, Nuit et Brouillard (1955, Night and Fog), is an examination of Nazi concentration camps. In his early features, Resnais often collaborated with contemporary novelists associated with the post–World War II antinaturalistic nouveau roman [new novel], and he frequently employed flashback and fast-forward techniques that emphasized the mutability of time. Resnais reflected his documentary experience in his first feature, the haunting Hiroshima mon amor (1959), with screenplay by Marguerite DurasDuras, Marguerite
, 1914–96, French author, b. Gia Dinh, Indochina (now Vietnam). Usually grouped with the exponents of the nouveau roman [new novel] (see French literature), Duras abandoned many of the conventions of the novel form.
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, which merges present and past in a story of a passionate love affair that also recounts and documents the destruction of Hiroshima. His second feature, L'Annèe dernière à Marienbad (Last Year at Marienbad, 1961), written by Alain Robbe-GrilletRobbe-Grillet, Alain
, 1922–2008, French novelist and filmmaker, b. Brest. Robbe-Grillet is considered the originator of the French nouveau roman [new novel], in which conventional story is subordinated to structure and the significance of objects is stressed above
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, is the paradigm of European art films: an enigmatic, evocative, and exquisitely composed work that explores perception, time, and the ambiguities of memory.

Among Resnais' other films are Muriel (1963); La guerre est finie (The War Is Over, 1966), which mingles political intrique with elements of personal alienation and intimacy; Stavisky (1974), another political work drawn from a 1930s French scandal; Providence (1977), his first English-language feature; and the witty, prize-winning Mon Oncle d'Amérique (1980). Later films are more free-form and antirealistic, and were generally less popular with critics and the public. These include La Vie est un roman (Life Is a Bed of Roses, 1983), Mélo (1986), Smoking/No Smoking (1993), On connait la chanson (Same Old Song, 1997), and Coeurs (Private Fears in Public Places, 2006). Though Resnais directed dozens of films, his last documentary and his first two features remain the most influential and best known.


See studies by R. Ames (1968), J. Ward (1968), J. Monaco (1978, 1979), F. Sweet (1981), H. Callev (1997), E. Wilson (2006), and H. Vaughan (2013).

Resnais, Alain


Born June 3, 1922, in Vannes. French film director.

Resnais studied cinema at the Institut des Hautes Études Cinématographiques and also studied acting. He is a representative of the New Wave, a trend in the French cinema in the mid-1950’s. His first motion pictures included the short film Van Gogh (1948) and the documentaries Guernica (1949) and Night and Fog (1956). Resnais’s feature films include Hiroshima Mon Amour (1959), Last Year at Marienbad (1961), Muriel (1963), La Guerre est finie (1966), and Je t’aime, je t’aime (1968). In 1967 he collaborated on the film Far From Vietnam.


Iutkevich, S. “Novaia shkola frantsuzskogo korotkometrazhnogo fil’ma.” In the collection Frantsuzskoe kinoiskusstvo. Moscow, 1960.
References in periodicals archive ?
The screen reverses the space of the frame, simply because Alain Resnais knows how to use the energy released by the cinematographic transmutation.
Originally called Les Herbes Folles, the director is the now 88-year-old Alain Resnais (a BAFTA winner for Hiroshima Mon Amour, 1959) and even he can't stop the script from putting the flimsy into whimsy.
Limited openers include National Geographic s release of the Afghanistan-set, Sundance-winning documentary "Restrepo," directed by Tim Hetherington and journalist Sebastian Junger, and Sony Pictures Classics romantic drama "Wild Grass" from eminent French director Alain Resnais.
At the Baryshnikov Arts Center, Christine Letailleur stages her version of Hiroshima monamour, the New Wave movie by Alain Resnais (whose screenplay was written by Duras), March 4-6.
MARDIS DU CINEMA Toute la memoire du monde [film by Alain Resnais (21min, 1956), with English subtitles], Coeurs [film by Alain Resnais (121min, 2006), with English subtitles]
And when the Holocaust confronted its survivors with a particularly urgent demand for such an adequate affirmation, people like the poet Paul Celan, the writer Robert Antelme, and the film director Alain Resnais inherited the romantic lesson of the inseparability of testimony and lyric figure in their responses to it.
Alain Resnais offers the left cheek and it is we who receive the slaps smack in the face, each shot being a well-deserved blow.
Emma Wilson's study of Alain Resnais brings the number of volumes in Manchester University Press's 'French Film Directors' series--now an indispensable resource for students, teachers, and researchers of French cinema--to over twenty.
In France, however, his plays have provided the basis for films by director Alain Resnais.
This approach can be metaphorically linked to the documentary style of Alain Resnais, whose landmark documentary, Night and Fog, undertakes the bringing-to-'appearance' of those aspects of the holocaust that continue to be 'invisible' (or 'indiscernible') from the perspective of the state, creating a form that is adequate to the investigation of that which is most properly formless.
Between 1955 and 1983, three French film documentaries displaced our understanding of the events of World War II: Nuit et brouillard by Alain Resnais, Le Chagrin et la pitie by Marcel Ophuls and Claude Lanzmann's Shoah.
The film that is directed by Alain Resnais is about a woman who is looking for a new apartment not knowing she is in for a rough deal.