Alain Resnais

Alain Resnais is one of the most audacious and creative French directors whose film career extended for over more than six centuries. He first began as a film editor in the mid 1940’s and later directed a various number of political documentary shorts. His most acclaimed and influential documentary was Night and Fog (1955), one of the first major documentaries to have actually gone inside Nazi Germany’s death camps. Resnais began forming his personal auteur throughout the late 1950’s with such highly challenging films such as Hiroshima mon amour (1959) and Last Year at Marienbad (1961), films which explored abstract themes such as memories, forgetfulness, time and space, all integrated within various unconventional narrative aesthetics. His films frequently explored the relationship between consciousness, flashbacks, and the imagination, and he was noted for devising innovative and formal structures for his narratives. These revolutionary techniques were highly associated with the rise of the French New Wave at the time, even though Resnais didn’t necessarily regard himself as being fully part of that movement. He had closer links to ‘The Left Bank’ subgroup of filmmakers which consisted of Chris Marker and Agnès Varda. They tended to see cinema through the themes of modernism, surrealistic dreams and experimental filmmaking. The Algerian war in the 60’s, and the difficulty of coming to terms with its horrors, was a central theme of Resnais’s next film Muriel (1963), which used a fractured narrative to explore the mental states of its characters. In his later films, Resnais moved away from the overtly political topics of his earlier works and developed his interests in an interaction between cinema and other cultural forms, including theatre, music, and comic books. Throughout the late 60’s and 70’s Resnais spent some time in America and ultimately made his first English language film titled Providence (1977),which explored a dying novelist grappling with alternative versions of his own past as he adapts them to fiction. In Resnais’s final masterpiece Mon’ Oncle d’ Amerique (1980), Resnais brilliantly deconstructs philosophical, sociological and psychological human and animal behaviors with various radical images that are intellectually explored in a clinical and yet darkly satirical way. Fragmented time and memory have regularly been identified as two of the principal themes throughout most of Resnais’s films. During the course of his career, Resnais has won various awards from international film festivals and academies and his films continue even to this day to fascinate, challenge and baffle movegoers and critics.

Alain Resnais
Alain Resnais Featured Films
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Articles and Essays on Alain Resnais

Hiroshima mon amour (1959)

Hiroshima mon amour is one of the great poetic French films of all time that also became the major catalyst for the French New Wave using several innovative techniques such as several flashbacks, documentary footage and it’s uniquely non linear storyline. Hiroshima mon amour was directed by the great French director Alain Resnais, and with a remarkable screenplay by Marguerite Duras, (which […]


Last Year at Marienbad (1961)

Alain Resnais’s Last Year at Marienbad opens with beautiful shots of the labyrinthine castle and the baroque design of which is as consciously geometric as it is overloaded with theatrical designs and elaborate architecture. You see gorgeous framed paintings on the walls and of the luscious garden outside with its exceedingly regular lay-out that is typical of the […]

Alain Resnais