Sense of Cinema: Click Here (Article on Robbe-Grillet: Teasing the Real)
Synopsis: (from Wikipedia)
With its highly stylized camerawork and fragmented narrative structure, Alain Robbe-Grillet's L'immortelle is a cinematic arabesque that teases the eye with visual delights, yet sadistically confounds the viewer's expectations. The film is not dissimilar to Alan Resnais's Last Year At Marienbad, which he had written two years earlier.
L'immortelle involves a Frenchman, traveling in Istanbul, who is fascinated by the city's language, architecture, and exotic culture. He soon becomes entranced by a mysterious woman who seems to encourage his attentions but remains, maddeningly, just beyond his reach. His erotic pursuit of her leads him into the criminal underworld with deadly consequences.
The narrative does not run strict in chronological order, but rather uses extensive flashbacks, "memory editing," and dreamlike fantasy sequences which border on the surreal to tell its story. There are lots of “traps” where characters just appearing will remind you of others who came before. Entrances and exits are duplicated. The film relies on breaking down objects to suit a cinematic rhythm.
The characters are Turkish apart from the Man, who does not understand the native language. Thus, only the French dialogue is translated in the English subtitles for the film; the Turkish dialogue remains a mystery to western audiences, and to the Man, as well.
The New World Encyclopedia (Click Here for biography and works).
Alain Robbe-Grillet (1922 – 2008) was a French writer and filmmaker. Along with Nathalie Sarraute, Michel Butor and Claude Simon, one of the figures most associated with the Nouveau Roman (new novel) wave. Alain Robbe-Grillet was elected a member of the Académie française on 25 March 2004, succeeding Maurice Rheims at seat No. 32. He was married to Catherine Robbe-Grillet (née Rstakian).
He was born in Brest (Finistère, France) to a family of engineers and scientists. He was trained as an agricultural engineer. During the years 1943 and 1944, Robbe-Grillet participated in compulsory labor in Nuremberg, where he worked as a machinist. The initial few months were seen by Robbe-Grillet as something of a holiday, since, in-between the very rudimentary training he was given to operate the machinery, he had free time to go to the theatre and the opera. In 1945, Robbe-Grillet completed his diploma at the National Institute of Agronomy. Later, his work as an agronomist took him to Martinique, French Guinea, Guadeloupe, and Morocco. He died in Caen after succumbing to heart problems. (Adapted from Wikipedia).
What is the Nouveau Roman Wave?
Nouveau Roman is a literary movement in France during the 1950s. It gathered French novelists who diverged from classical literary genres, experimenting with style instead of following the standard rules of the novel that focused on plot, idea, action, and narrative. The writers focused on ideas, making the nouveau roman work as an individual vision of things. Readers are challenged more, as the fiction is written in a condensed, repetitive manner with no intention of explaining characters and their actions. The authors simply explored a variety of problems that individuals were faced with in the contemporary world, such as individual and collective identities, responsibilities, loyalties, and the alienation of life in a technological and consumerist society. Nothing is definite; it is up to the reader to reach a conclusion as to what happened and why.
The group consisted of individuals without anything in common except for the resistance to classical literary expression. Their common trait was that they took literature seriously, and that they were respected as avant-garde writers and prominent intellectuals who were attached to the literary theory as well as to the practice of it. This made the group a major literary movement in France at least for a decade. The first novel of the "Nouveau Rroman" is considered to be "Tropismes" (1938), written by a French novelist and literary critic Nathalie Sarraute.
They, themselves, never felt any belonging to a certain group or movement. It was the media that made their collective existence; they were promoted by "L' Express" magazine and by the" Minuit" publishing house, and popularized by the literary theorist Jean Ricardou through an avant-garde critical journal "Tel Quel." Influenced by film art, the group contributed to a new style of filmmaking, named the "New Wave." (Adapted from Click Here).
Qu'est-ce qu'un ciné-roman ? par Alain Robbe-Grillet
Le livre que l'on va lire ne prétend pas être une œuvre par lui-même. L'œuvre, c'est le film, tel qu’on peut le voir et l'entendre dans un cinéma. On n'en trouvera ici qu'une description : ce que serait, pour un opéra, par exemple, le livret accompagné de la partition musicale et des indications de décor, de jeu, etc.
Cette description est antérieure au film ; elle a servi à l'auteur, à ses assistants et à ses techniciens, pour le réaliser. Mais, en vue de la publication, la plupart des indications techniques ont été traduites en langage courant ; une définition sommaire des décors a en outre remplacé les localisations topographiques qui n’étaient déchiffrables que pour ceux qui se trouvaient sur les lieux de tournage ; enfin, chaque fois que des modifications du projet sont intervenues en cours de réalisation, le texte qui suit correspond aux solutions effectivement adoptées.
Le livre peut ainsi se concevoir, pour le lecteur, comme une précision apportée au spectacle lui-même, une analyse détaillée d'un ensemble audio-visuel trop complexe et trop rapide pour être aisément étudié lors de la projection. Mais, pour celui qui n'a pas assisté au spectacle, le ciné-roman peut aussi se lire comme se lit une partition de musique ; la communication doit alors passer par l'intelligence du lecteur, alors que l'œuvre s'adresse d'abord à sa sensibilité immédiate, que rien ne peut vraiment remplacer.