Back to Marienbad

Alain Resnais’s 1961 French New Wave masterpiece Last Year at Marienbad has long been one of cinema’s most magnificently inscrutable films, but at least one of its mysteries has now been solved. The actress Françoise Spira, a cast member, documented the Marienbad shoot with a Super 8 camera, but she committed suicide a few years later and the footage was lost for decades. Improbably, in 2008, Jean-Baptiste Thierrée, Spira’s partner before her death, found the reels in a basement and gave them to the film’s screenwriter, Alain Robbe-Grillet. After Robbe-Grillet’s death that same year, the footage made its way to the writer and philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy (a producer on Marienbad), who found that it required major restoration and, of course, editing. Thus, German director Volker Schlöndorff (Resnais’s second assistant on the film), was brought on board to make sense of the footage. What Schlöndorff did, however, was to assemble something grander, a documentary called The Making of “Last Year at Marienbad,” which Levy, writing for the Daily Beast, characterizes as a “touching reflection of Last Year at Marienbad, a truly new film, a behind-the-scenes tale of a masterpiece refracted in hallways and mirrors, hieratic and unwavering dialogues.” We’re excited to see this film and, like the New Yorker’s Richard Brody (who just had the privilege of viewing it—read his ecstatic review here), hope that it’s selected for this fall’s New York Film Festival.

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