Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Alain Robbe-Grillet (1922 - 2008)



"Why all the games?"
"Just to see your reactions."

- dialogue from Trans-Europ-Express (Alain Robbe-Grillet, 1966)



Anthony Fragola: What is it that film can accomplish that the written work cannot? There must be something intrinsic to film that draws you to it. What is there in film that allows you to express what you want to express?


Alain Robbe-Grillet: There is nothing I want to express. I have nothing to express. I feel like manipulating forms. I paint because plastic forms interest me. I write literature because the structures of sentences and words interest me, and I make films because the image and the sound interest me. But for me, there is no relationship among these different activities. Well, yes, there is a relationship -- myself; that is all. But I am not at all like Marguerite Duras who can make a film with a novel or a novel with a film. For me that would absolutely never come to mind. For me that is a completely different kind of activity.

- excerpt from The Erotic Dream Machine: Interviews With Alain Robbe-Grillet on His Films (1992, eds. Fragola and Smith).


The image above is from Robbe-Grillet's Eden and After (1970), possibly my favourite of the few films I've seen by him. It is a film that contains some of the most striking images of all within this catalogue of seductive, haunting, mind-boggling imagery constituting his cinema. Within this film, fantasies play themselves out in a Tunisian desert, beginning from optical illusions to do with bodily fluids, leading to the infamous scene with the blindfolded woman and a bucket of scorpions. There are references to the paintings of Marcel Duchamp, most of all to 'Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2', signalling a shift in focus to the female characters in Robbe-Grillet's films from now on. Repetition (seduced to repulsed to seduced) as rupture.

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