Denying that the film should be seen as a testament, director Alain Resnais said at a press conference in Cannes, "This film is unlike any other. If I'd thought of this film as a final statement, I'd never have had the courage or energy to do it."
I saw the film at a press screening at the London Film Festival and truly, you ain't seen nothing like this. Resnais continues, at the age of 90, to produce extraordinary work.
Time Out review:
'Alain Resnais seems untouched by age, at least as far as his films are concerned. ‘Wild Grass’, his last film, was arguably more audacious, lighter and more evocative of the carefree spirit of youth than the work of many younger directors, and this latest is no less adventurous, notwithstanding its subject matter.
Because, to borrow a pun from an earlier Resnais title, the twin concerns of his formally inventive adaptation of Jean Anouilh’s ‘Eurydice’ are ‘amouret la mort’: love and death. But if the director has any anxieties about what lies beyond the grave, he certainly isn’t revealing them. Playful,witty, as unashamedly theatrical as it is cinematic, the movie begins with a fabulous array of French actors – Sabine Azéma, Pierre Arditi, Michel Piccoli, Lambert Wilson, Anne Consigny, Mathieu Amalric and Hippolyte Girardot are probably the best known internationally – playingthemselves and being summoned by phone to the home of a recently deceased old playwright friend.
There they are shown a video of drama students rehearsing the dead writer’ retelling of the story of Orpheus and Eurydice and as the actors, who have all themselves acted in the play at some point in their lives, watch the video, they start first to repeat the remembered lines, then to act out the parts with the other spectators, then to interact with the performers on screen. Then the house they are in becomes an ever-changing set.
There’s far more to it, of course; the movie isn’t just some shallow piece of clever formal flapdoodle. Like most of Resnais’s work, it concerns the constant, complex interplay between ‘reality’, memory, imagination and desire. Thanks to the choice of material, death also looms large, though not at all threateningly; the ghosts here are simply the feelings we have experienced. The film is touching, but more than that it’s wise, witty and thought-provoking.'
Here is the trailer.
Capital Celluloid 2012 - Day 355: Thu Dec 20
Chicago Reader review:
'Carl Dreyer made this extraordinary 1943 drama, about the church's persecution of women for witchcraft in the 17th century, during the German occupation of Denmark. He later claimed that he hadn't sought to pursue any contemporary parallels while adapting the play Anne Petersdotter (which concerns adultery as well as witchcraft), but that seems disingenuous - Day of Wrath may be the greatest film ever made about living under totalitarian rule. Astonishing in its artistically informed period re-creation as well as its hypnotic mise en scene (with some exceptionally eerie camera movements), it challenges the viewer by suggesting at times that witchcraft isn't so much an illusion as an activity produced by intolerance. And like Dreyer's other major films, it's sensual to the point of carnality. I can't think of another 40s film that's less dated.'
Here is the opening.