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In Time: The Films of Alain Resnais

November 6, 2009 - December 15, 2009

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Je t’aime, je t’aime, November 21

“The image is always in the present tense.”—Alain Robbe-Grillet, author, Last Year at Marienbad

The contemporaneity of memory is a theme that haunts, as it informs, every Alain Resnais film. This great modernist director’s obsession with time and how the past lives in the present can be traced in the hauntingly beautiful montages, searching camera, and musical language of films like Last Year at Marienbad, Muriel, and Je t’aime, je t’aime, all collaborations with major writers. Resnais has always played with cinema, and so transformed it. What was Marienbad but a giant gameboard? With Mon oncle d’Amérique Resnais began to make the game—“to allow theory and fiction to coexist on the screen”—more explicit, and by Mélo, the first-rate cast who were becoming his stock company were playing along with him. Looking backward and forward across Resnais’s decades-long career, this series offers an exhilarating and unforgettable adventure in the cinema of ideas, and in the idea of cinema.

Judy Bloch

Friday, November 6, 2009
6:30 p.m. Last Year at Marienbad
Alain Resnais (France, 1961). It’s déjà vu all over the place in this elegant, labyrinthine puzzle, written by Alain Robbe-Grillet and starring Delphine Seyrig. (94 mins)

Friday, November 13, 2009
8:45 p.m. Stavisky
Alain Resnais (France/Italy, 1974). In a 1974 film that seems made for 2009, Resnais depicts the downfall of a grandiose swindler (Jean-Paul Belmondo) and of an even grander swindle, the all’s-well image of prewar Europe as it rotted within. (117 mins)

Saturday, November 14, 2009
8:45 p.m. Muriel
Alain Resnais (France, 1963). Delphine Seyrig stars as a widow haunted by a former love, as her son is haunted by memories of the Algerian War. With Night and Fog, an extraordinary reflection on the Holocaust and historical memory. (145 mins)

Saturday, November 21, 2009
8:30 p.m. Je t’aime, je t’aime
Alain Resnais (France, 1968). A failed suicide becomes a guinea pig for research on the nature of time: Resnais’s obsession with memory manifests itself as science fiction. (91 mins)

Saturday, November 28, 2009
8:40 p.m. Mon oncle d’Amérique
Alain Resnais (France, 1980). It’s survival of the wittiest in Resnais’s take on behavioral theory. Starring Gérard Depardieu, with guest appearances by Jean Gabin, Jean Marais, and Danielle Darrieux. (125 mins)

Friday, December 4, 2009
8:30 p.m. Mélo
Alain Resnais (France, 1986). Resnais adapts an enjoyably trashy 1920s stage melodrama and achieves “the eloquent simplicity of a masterpiece.”—S.F. Chronicle (110 mins)

Thursday, December 10, 2009
7:00 p.m. Short Films by Alain Resnais
(France, 1950–58). Resnais in short, from eloquent essays on art and cultural memory to a surreal “song of styrene.” (108 mins)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009
7:00 p.m. La guerre est finie
Alain Resnais (France, 1966). Yves Montand is a Spanish revolutionary suspended between the past and the future in Resnais’s political drama. (121 mins)

Series coordinated at PFA by Kathy Geritz. New prints are made possible through the cooperation of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the support of the French Ministry. PFA wishes to thank Sandrine Butteau and Delphine Selles, Cultural Services of the French Embassy, New York; and Denis Bisson and Cecile Hokes, French Consulate, San Francisco. We also acknowledge Laurence Berbon, Tamasa Distribution; Eric Di Bernardo, Rialto Pictures; Sarah Finklea, Janus Films; May Haduong, Academy Film Archive; Caroline Morand, Les Grands Films Classiques; Véronique Jimenez, Roissy Films; and mk2. We are grateful to Judy Bloch for revisiting her program notes on Resnais.

Note: Due to legal issues, Hiroshima mon amour is not available for theatrical screenings in North America at this time.