A suicidal man haunted by memory is picked by a massive computer system as the ideal candidate to send to the past in a time-travel experiment. But enough about La Jetee, here’s a full-length full-motion movie from six years later.
I don’t know if the computer was aware that the man had killed his woman on vacation in Glasgow by turning up the gas while she slept, or if the scientists were aware that the man would be able to re-experience his past having no free will to change it. The results are, of course, a fragmented Resnais film jumping back and forth willy-nilly through the last 2-5 years of this guy’s life.
Star Claude Rich, who looks somewhat like Michael Showalter from The State, was in Jean Renoir’s final film The Elusive Corporal and would later play the offscreen cranky father in Coeurs.
Rich is with this girl Wiana (Anouk Ferjac from The War Is Over) sometimes, but mostly he’s with young Catrine (Olga Georges-Picot, who wasn’t in many memorable films before she killed herself in ’97). He is occasionally happy with Catrine, but he cheats on her and she knows it. They’re both depressive, and she has no life outside of their relationship, doesn’t enjoy vacation, is becoming more of a burden.
Now I’m told that some of the “past events” that Claude experiences are actually dreams he had. Wonder if the hot girl in the mirrored bathroom asking him to wash her back was one of those.
Just a dream? Carla Marlier (Zazie‘s aunt):
After being trapped for who knows how long bouncing through time and memory (90 minutes as the movie’s running time, or infinitely longer?), Claude finds himself reliving his attempted suicide by gun. Does he manage to affect his past this time by succeeding where before he had failed? His body appears on the hospital grounds, and the technicians run out to collect him, with a final shot of Claude’s mouse companion still caught inside his glass dome in the machine.
The mouse appears earlier, running across the beach right around the moment that Claude was supposed to be sent back (it was to be one year ago, for a duration of one minute).
The time machine:
This idea of time travel doesn’t seem like it’d be very useful to the scientists, rather more like traveling through your own memory than actually moving in time… though it does show that Claude’s body disappears when he travels. And the scientists, besides having invented/created the thing, don’t seem very capable of handling the machine or Claude.
Holm says “it was a weird film that was openly laughed at in the States.”
Andy says “If we become stuck in our own time loop of visiting the past the memories can become too overwhelming. Suicide in context of the movie becomes a means to end or break the flow of time and memory.”
The time machine premise seems like a useful tool for Resnais to explore the obsessive cross-cutting of memory that he’d already played with in Muriel and Marienbad.
Resnais: “There are absolutely no flashbacks or anything of the sort.”
Watched again June 2008 with a group. Very plain look to the sets, clothes… not a visually stylish movie except in the editing. I like it more the second time around. Would like to watch a higher quality copy next time.
September 2014: wish come true, a restored 35mm print at Filmstreams.