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Alain Resnais

Alain Resnais

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Also Known As: Died: March 1, 2014
Born: June 3, 1922 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Vannes, Brittany, FR Profession: director, editor, screenwriter, actor

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Arguably the single most important director to emerge from the French New Wave, Alain Resnais fed his early imagination a varied diet of popular movies, pulp fiction, Proust, Katherine Mansfield and comic books, retaining throughout his career the ability to bridge the gap between high and low culture in his films. He began making 16mm documentary "art" shorts in the late 1940s, visiting the works of Hans Hartnung, Felix Labisse, Henri Goetz and Max Ernst, among others, but it was his more ambitious "Van Gogh" (1948) which finally succeeded in truly drawing the observer into the artist's world. The film impressed producer Pierre Braunberger sufficiently that he requested Resnais film a 35mm version which earned the 1949 Best Short Subject Oscar. With "Guernica" (1950), a short directed in collaboration with Robert Hessen, the former editor took his filmmaking one step farther, employing the montage techniques he had gradually been mastering to create a passionate protest against war that is at the same time an affirmation of faith in humanity and the possibility of love. The director's subsequent move into feature films was equally acclaimed, resulting in some of the most powerful and emotionally...

Arguably the single most important director to emerge from the French New Wave, Alain Resnais fed his early imagination a varied diet of popular movies, pulp fiction, Proust, Katherine Mansfield and comic books, retaining throughout his career the ability to bridge the gap between high and low culture in his films. He began making 16mm documentary "art" shorts in the late 1940s, visiting the works of Hans Hartnung, Felix Labisse, Henri Goetz and Max Ernst, among others, but it was his more ambitious "Van Gogh" (1948) which finally succeeded in truly drawing the observer into the artist's world. The film impressed producer Pierre Braunberger sufficiently that he requested Resnais film a 35mm version which earned the 1949 Best Short Subject Oscar. With "Guernica" (1950), a short directed in collaboration with Robert Hessen, the former editor took his filmmaking one step farther, employing the montage techniques he had gradually been mastering to create a passionate protest against war that is at the same time an affirmation of faith in humanity and the possibility of love. The director's subsequent move into feature films was equally acclaimed, resulting in some of the most powerful and emotionally resonant films of their time. Considered an auteur despite his reliance on collaborating screenwriters, Resnais consistently adhered to strategies of fragmented point-of-view and multiple temporality and has significantly advanced film's ability to express the vagaries of the human mind.

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

2.
  Wild Grass (2009)
5.
  Same Old Song (1998) Director
6.
  Smoking (1994) Director
7.
  No Smoking (1994) Director
8.
  Contre l'oubli (1992) Director
9.
  I Want to Go Back Home (1989) Director
10.
  Melo (1986) Director

CAST: (feature film)

VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Began making amatuer films as a teenager in the 1930s
1939:
Moved to Paris
:
Acted during the last part of World War II with the classical theater troupe, Les Arlequins
1946:
Made his first adult film, a 16mm silent short called "Schema d'une identification"
1947:
Was an assistant editor on Nicole Vedres' prize-winning compilation film, "Paris 1900"
1948:
Filmed the 16mm short, "Van Gogh"; later re-made in 35mm at producer Pierre Braunberger's invitation, which won the 1949 Oscar for Best Short Subject (Two reel)
1950:
Collaborated with Robert Hessens to direct, "Guernica"
1954:
Co-edited Agnes Varda's first feature film, "Le pointe courte"
1955:
Helmed the documentary short about the Nazi concentration camps, "Night and Fog"
1958:
Last short, "Le Chant du styrene/The Styrene Song"
1959:
Made first feature, "Hiroshima, Mon Amour"; considered the first masterpiece of the French New Wave
1961:
Created an even bigger stir with his second film, "L'Annee derniere a Marienbad/Last Year at Marienbad"
1963:
First color feature, "Muriel"
1966:
Helmed the Academy Award nominated film, "La Guerre est finie/The War Is Over"
1968:
Final film for six years, "Je t'aime, je t'aime"
1974:
Returned to filmmaking with "Stavisky"
1977:
First English-language film, "Providence"; garnered seven Cesars and international praise"
1980:
Achieved commercial success with "Mon oncle d'Amerique/My Uncle in America"; first of three collaborations with scenarist Jean Grualt
1983:
Re-teamed with Grualt for "Lla Vie est un roman/Life Is a Bed of Roses"
1984:
Final film with Jean Grualt, "L'Amour a mort/Love Unto Death"
1986:
Adapted the french play "Melo" into a feature film
1993:
Directed the feature adaptation of the french play "Intimate Exchanges" into the film, "Smoking/No Smoking"
1997:
Helmed the film, "On connaît la chanson/Same Old Song"
2006:
Directed "Private Fears in Public Places," which was adapted from Alan Ayckbourn's play of the same name
2009:
Premiered film, "The Wild Grass" at the 62nd Cannes Film Festival
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Cinematheque Francaise: -
Institut des hautes études cinématographiques: - 1943 - 1944

Notes

"I never dreamed of being a film director when I was young, but when I saw the first Ginger Rogers/Fred Astaire dance numbers (or maybe it was even before, with Dick Powell and Ruby Keeler), I suddenly had a strong, even violent, desire to make films. Those dance numbers had a kind of sensual movement which really took hold of me, and I remember thinking I would like to make films which had the same effect upon people, that I wondered if I could find the equivalent of that exhilaration." --Alain Resnais, quoted in David Thomson's "A Biographical Dictionary of Film"

"I like it when I can see that a film has a specific form--when it's not just a documantary slice of life. Even if the form is hidden, I like it when I can see that by working on it, you can get at an underlying structure that will make the film hold together. I like composers such as Alban Berg, who in "Lulu" and "Wozzeck" is working with fixed forms--they're not always visible in the presentation, but they provide an internal tension. It makes for hidden scaffolding and that's what I need to work with." --Resnais, quoted in Sight and Sound, c. 1993.

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Florence Malroux. Member of his production team since the 1950s; married on October 7, 1969.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Pierre Resnais. Pharmacist.
mother:
Jeanne Resnais.

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