And while we're on the subject of novelist-filmmakers (or should that be cine-romanciers) who worked with Resnais, what are Marguerite Duras's films like (I know John Waters is a fan)? I think critical consensus rates Duras higher than Robbe-Grillet, does it not?
My Robbe-Grillet experience is very limited (and distant, and compressed over a weekend, so I can no longer remember if I saw two or three films, or which - except for L'Immortelle
- they were; oddly appropriate for the co-auteur of Marienbad
!) I found the films strong and distinctive, but he's no Duras (no problem keeping those films separate in my mind).
Duras' filmmaking is stark and astringent, and very literary, but, in my experience, utterly compelling. Although each film is shaped by powerful intellectual and narrative structures, and often has a strong basis is language / narration, they're also visually eloquent and adventurous. This is all sounding very vague, I'm afraid. It's hard to think of readily available points of reference - other than the obvious Hiroshima
. Akerman and Straub / Huillet spring to mind, but I suspect that all they've really got in common is a similar isolation from mainstream cinema tropes.
I'm also intrigued by Resnais' role as a catalyst in the careers of key early collaborators. It's unusual enough that key collaborators on three major films (Marker, Duras, Robbe-Grillet) would go on to become significant filmmakers in their own right, but I think it's even more remarkable that their individual works are so of a piece with their Resnais collaborations. In style and content, Night and Fog
fits very comfortably alongside Marker's later essay films; Hiroshima, mon amour
can be easily read as the first Duras film (it's far closer to her own directorial style than other adaptations like Brooks' Moderato cantabile
), and my (shaky) recollections of Robbe-Grillet are of films that share the elegant, ludic look and feel of Last Year at Marienbad
. Resnais is obviously a very sympathetic adapter of texts, but all of those works are also full-blooded expressions of his own authorial voice, completely in tune with each other and with what he's doing in Muriel
, Toute la memoire du monde
, or even Le Chant du styrene