REVIEW: ALAIN ROBBE-GRILLET SIX FILMS – 1963-1974 / CERT: 18 / DIRECTOR: ALAIN ROBBE-GRILLET / SCREENPLAY: ALAIN ROBBE-GRILLET / STARRING: JEAN-LOUIS TRINTIGNANT, CATHERINE JOURDAN, ANICEE ALVINA / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
From imaginary women, storytelling on a train, lies and seduction, sex games in Club Eden to the interrogation of a murder suspect, the BFI present six films previously unavailable for decades by the auteur Alain Robbe-Grillet.
Life is filled with two kinds of films – those that are digested and those that are savoured. Alain Robbe-Grillet’s are the latter. Sensually seductive and lacking reverence for linear storytelling or cinematic convention, these are films that could only belong to the explosive decades of the 1960s and 1970s.
Collected here is over half of Robbe-Grillet’s directorial output, encompassing just over a decade of films that spanned 1963-1974. As American cinema in 1974 was hitting the highs of The Godfather Part 2 and Mean Streets, Robbe-Grillet was delivering an art house gem – Successive Slidings Into Pleasure – an abstract tale of an interrogation and suspicion of witchcraft.
If one were to abbreviate Robbe-Grillet’s cinema one might point to certain obsessions – women as sensual, sexual or erotic objects, truth versus fiction and storytelling within storytelling. Throughout the collection of films the characters are not only players in the stories but are the storytellers. Their interactions with one another and us create a feeling associated with the immediacy of the theatrical.
Imagine Robbe-Grillet's cinema as a town, and despite these obsessions, he seemingly finds a different perspective from which to paint the view of the town with each new film; creating distinction through similarity.
His directorial debut, The Immortal One echoes Last Year at Marienbad’s imaginary woman as Robbe-Grillet sets off on a filmic trek that takes us from the beauty of monochrome to wondrous colour that ends with the painting of naked flesh. From ambiguous art house to sexually, erotic and provocative art house, each film is playful as Robbe-Grillet re-enacts childhood, running around the cinematic playground with little regard for convention. His films are instinctive and fearless, impossible for them to belong to today’s cinema. These are films of exploration, of filmic worlds in a state of self-exile, individual abstract works that are connected to cinema only by their identification as films.
With this release, the BFI show an appreciation that at the cinema you watch the film, whilst at home you go beyond the film. The critical perspective provided by Tim Lucas’ audio commentaries, the writer-director's point of view through Frederic Taddei’s extensive interviews, along with the newly filmed introductions by Catherine Robbe-Grillet offer a diverse and thoughtful perspective on this collection. Outside of the darkened theatre the release allows one to savour these films in the best possible way; a collection with the propensity to enrich one’s filmic experience.
Extras: See above