Last Year in Marienbad - A Film as Art

@ Galerie Rudolfinum till November 27, 2016

Time and place blur into a dream state in Alan Resnais’ classic 1961 French film, “Last Year in Marienbad.” Fans of this cinematic masterpiece now have the opportunity to lose track of their own sense of time at the enchanting exhibit “Last year in Marienbad. A Film as Art” at the Galerie Rudolfinum--a neo-renaissance building with halls and chandeliers as spectacular as those depicted in the film. The exhibit, curated by Christoph Grunenberg and Eva Fischer-Hausdorf, mimics the aesthetic of the film while displaying both modern and contemporary art works related to it.

“Last Year in Marienbad,” starring Giorgio Albertazzi and Delphine Seyrig tells the twisted story of a surrealistic romantic undertaking between a married woman and a stranger at a grand hotel in Europe. Through the artful sequencing of scenes, played repetitively or out of order, “Last Year in Marienbad” entices the viewer to keep watching the film, even though it breaks the traditional plot structure of a beginning, middle, and end.

The cinematography itself is beautiful, but the story confusing; likewise, the exhibition clearly focuses on the masterful production of the film, complimented by alluring and perplexing works in all mediums by over thirty artists, including Douglas Gordon, Rene Magritte, Alberto Giacometti, Cindy Sherman, and Jeff Koons. With such a stellar collection of international artists, the exhibition is worth seeing regardless if you have seen the film.

Entering the first room of the exhibit, visitors are greeted with the scream of a main character, echoing throughout every room of the hall. Scenes from the movie play on screens and the muffled French dialogue acts as a voiceover for the exhibit. A slightly less eerie highlight of the exhibit in the first room is “Les Noeuds Roses” painted in 1937 by Paul Delvaux. This oil painting depicts idealized women, wearing crowns, and standing naked in a garden; and this one was a clear inspiration for Resnais. Aligning more with the film’s exploration between the imaginative and reality, Rene Magritte’s “Le grand siècle” (1954), depicts an illogical scene. A man in a black bowler stands trapped in an “unreal” space, gazing at a “real” palace on the other side of a wall. Magritte combines what is logical with what is unattainable.

In addition to the art works, the story of the film’s production is on display. Black and white prints line the walls showing still images from the movie’s set - these photos are so beautiful that if they were viewed alone, one would think the storyline was more of a fairytale instead of a romantic nightmare. The film’s colorful movie posters from screenings around the world are also on display, providing insight on how different cultures interpreted and chose to advertise the film.

While chronological time has no relevance in the film, time is of the essence if you wish to see the “Last Year in Marienbad. A Film as Art” exhibit at the Galerie Rudolfinum, because it closes November 27th. And note, the admission to this exhibition is free thanks to the support of Nadační fond AVAST.

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