Alain Resnais, a founding figure of the French new wave, passed away on Saturday, March 1, 2014, in Paris. He was 91 years old.
Resnais’s complex style consisted of innovative camera movement, long tracking shots, and the use of flashback as a way of exploring memory, particularly in such masterpieces of fractured time as Hiroshima Mon Amour (1959) and Last Year at Marienbad (1961).
His dominant themes of memory and forgetfulness were illuminated in his fabulous short films Guernica (1950), Night and Fog (1955), and the unforgettable lyrical documentary Toute la Memoire du Monde (1956) about the Bibliotheque Nationale. He would continue to revisit these themes all the way to the end of his career.
Resnais was a perfect formalist who helped bring literary modernism to the movies, while his unique vision allowed his films to move seamlessly between past and present, reality and fantasy.
I was extremely fortunate to have met Mr. Resnais when, one day in the early ‘90’s, he came to my office in New York to obtain a few rare films that he had been unable to find anywhere else. He sat and we had a long chat about his films and cinema in general, including the films of Iran, which presented me with an historical opportunity to present him with my book, Iranian Cinema.
New York, March 2, 2014