"Last Year at Marienbad"(1961) is here presented by Criterion in remastered HD Blu-ray, and it is well worth the wait. This enigmatic gem, directed by Alain Resnais, is about persuasion, and memory, as well as being a tribute to the silent films, and early talkies. I'm reminded of the early suspense films of Alfred Hitchcock, like "Rebecca", as well as early horror films, such as Nosferatu. The grand darkened stairwell looks like it may very well have been descended by Dracula himself. The character "M" reinforces this reference with his gaunt figure. The heroine "A"(Delphine Seyrig) often appears like a figure imprisoned in Nosferatu's castle, especially in the bedroom scenes. The other major character "X", played by the charismatic Georgio Albertazzi, tries to persuade the heroine to leave with him, that they had met last year at Marienbad, and promised to be together. As the film unfolds we learn that some violent act may have happened last year. Rooms and corridors shift from scene to scene as if in a dream. What is the truth? Does she really want to leave with "X"? Should she? Is "M" her husband? Even as this film is a homage to earlier films and directors (Alfred Hitchcock's sideways silhouette is seen in a hallway about twelve minutes into the film), other films have since been influenced by this seminal film with its' fragmented subjective structure as has been seen in films like Christopher Nolan's "Memento" or Stanley Kubrick's "The Shining".
This version of the film is unique in that it offers the viewer both the original and remastered soundtrack. Alain Resnais believed that the remastered versions of soundtracks often sacrificed the range of tonalities found in the originals, and so he stipulated that the viewer have the choice to hear either version when viewing the film.
This disc also offers other extras not found on my VHS tape, such as a new audio interview with the director, and a couple of short documentaries by Resnais, "Le chant du styrene"(1958), and "Toute la memoire du monde"(1956), as well as a documentary about the making of the film, and a new interview with film scholar Ginette Vincendeau.
All in all it's a real treat to finally see this defining avant garde work in Blu-ray.