Alain Resnais

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Alain Resnais
BirthplaceVannes, Morbihan, Brittany, France

Resnais, Alain

Resnais, Alain (älăNˈ rānāˈ), 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 Duras, 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-Grillet, 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).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

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.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Christophe Carlier, dans son ouvrage intitule Marguerite Duras, Alain Resnais: Hiroshima mon amour, expose ainsi les deux griefs regulierement avances contre "Elle," a l'epoque de la sortie du film:
How sad to witness such a respectable, even sometimes admirable cinema theorist like Louis Seguin thinking he understands that Bazin bases his work on "a strict questioning of Alain Resnais' Van Gogh.
The French film director Alain Resnais was active right up to his passing, at 91, in March.
Le realisateur francais Alain Resnais, qui a presente sa fiction intitulee [beaucoup moins que]Aimer, boire et chanter[beaucoup plus grand que], mettant en scene un groupe d'amis bouleverse par la maladie de l'un d'entre eux qui n'a plus beaucoup de temps a vivre, a recu le Prix Alfred-Bauer remis a un film qui [beaucoup moins que]ouvre de nouvelles perspectives cinematographiques[beaucoup plus grand que], selon le site internet de la 64e Berlinale.
Another student at a different institution mixed up his metaphors to describe Alain Resnais' controversial Holocaust documentary Night And Fog as "a hotly contested potato".
Another student mixed his metaphors to describe Alain Resnais' controversial Holocaust docu 'Night And Fog' as 'a hotly contested potato.'
Emmanuelle Riva had been that luminous beauty at the heart of Alain Resnais's 1959 masterpiece, Hiroshima mon amour, which I wept through in a darkened cinema in Christchurch, New Zealand.
Mankiewicz's "Cleopatra," Bernardo Bertolucci's "The Last Emperor" in 3D, Alain Resnais' "Hiroshima Mon Amour," Patrice Chereau's "La Rein Margot," Francesco Rosi's "Lucky Luciano" and Alfred Hitchcock's "Vertigo," among others, in the esteemed Cannes Classics section.
douleur" quoted by Emma Wilson, Alain Resnais (Manchester and New
It's as tricky, in its way, as Alain Resnais' 'Last Year at Marienbad.'”
However, it's still an interesting and occasionally touching movie, beautifully directed by the veteran Alain Resnais.