Monday, 22 June 2015

Discovering Alain Robbe-Grillet

I finally began delving into the BFI's Alain Robbe-Grillet: Six Films 1963-1974 boxset this afternoon. The timing seemed right - there was some interesting Facebook conversation yesterday about Robbe-Grillet and earlier this week I read that Brian Aldiss had selected Last Year at Marienbad as one of his all-time favourite science fiction films, which I thought was a fascinating notion. This afternoon I caught the first two Robbe-Grillet films, L'Immortelle (1963) and Trans-Europ-Express (1966). I'm reluctant to say much after one initial pass at these films, but both were highly enjoyable and not the coldly cerebral works I was expecting. My preference was L'Immortelle, a wonderful dreamy romantic mystery and watching the film the title of Jon Hassell's 1990 album, City: Works of Fiction continually came to mind - the film was shot in Istanbul, but the city looks strangely empty throughout the film. The dialogue makes references to "tourist English" (as in the language) but the city feels bereft of visitors, off-season, if such a thing is possible. J.G. Ballard once said that the three pillars of science fiction were space, time and identity and L'Immortelle, essentially about a man who pursues a woman who may or may not exist, inches ever closer to the genre. Dazzling stuff.

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