• Before he radically transformed narrative cinema with such nonlinear masterpieces as Hiroshima mon amour and Last Year at Marienbad, the French New Wave icon Alain Resnais, who turns ninety-one today, began his career experimenting with cinematic form in short documentaries. The best known of these is probably the epochal 1955 Holocaust film Night and Fog, but the director also made a number of other gorgeous poetic ruminations on the ineffable. To honor M. Resnais on his birthday, we’re posting his evocative 1956 short Toute la mémoire du monde, which is both a look at the inner workings of the Bibliothèque nationale de France in Paris and a meditative piece about the fragility of human memory and the ways in which we try to shore it up—which would remain favorite themes of Resnais’. This beautiful film—featuring cinematography by Ghislain Cloquet (Au hasard Balthazar) and music by Maurice Jarre (Lawrence of Arabia)—was included on Criterion’s release of Last Year at Marienbad, now out of print.

10 comments

  • By john gooden
    June 03, 2013
    08:14 PM

    Does anyone know of a more recent film that explores the same subject in a similar way?
    Reply
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    • By Levar burton
      June 05, 2013
      02:21 PM

      I hear Reading Rainbow was a good show.
  • By SoloMan93
    June 03, 2013
    08:44 PM

    You need to make more of these shorts available on YouTube, please!
    Reply
  • By nolan w.
    June 04, 2013
    10:25 AM

    wow, i didn't realize last year at marienbad was out of print. feeling extra grateful for my copy today.
    Reply
  • By Michael Brakemeyer
    June 04, 2013
    10:55 PM

    A great piece from Resnais. Fascinating and we are still faced with it today with digital technology...as to how long will that last like the leather bound paper pages of this film.
    Reply
  • By Batzomon
    June 05, 2013
    09:21 AM

    So what were in those personal journals that must have been opened in 1974?
    Reply
  • By Peter H Skazin
    June 07, 2013
    12:52 AM

    Deep in its conception and marvelous in its execution ... poetic realism. Is this really an oxymoron? What a beautiful culmination of talents..
    Reply
  • By Tati35
    June 08, 2013
    12:07 AM

    Bring Resnais' films PROVIDENCE and SMOKING NO SMOKING to DVD, even an Eclipse(d) version ( !!! ) and then we can talk? Why these aren't released ( STILL ) on Criterion is one of the Great Mysteries of MIA Films? What is the hold- up. Politics? Copyright questions? Selfish dog- in - the - Manger hoarding? FREE the RESNAIS 2!
    Reply
  • By OJ
    June 08, 2013
    04:47 AM

    Exactly. Mon Oncle d'Amerique would round out the perfect Resnais three-part release, in separate volumes: PROVIDENCE, MOA, and the double film SMOKING/NO SMOKING. Come on Criterion! Don't squander the chance to get someone like, oh, hmm, maybe Jonathan Rosenbaum (?!) to interview Resnais on these discs.
    Reply
  • By OJ
    June 08, 2013
    04:53 AM

    And dedicate extras that address Mr. Resnais in question form to examine his style of story selection, writing process, production approach -- particularly his proclivity for plans sequence -- and his cutting for these individual films. Thanks in advance! I'll pre-order tomorrow.
    Reply

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