Friday, 24 July 2009

Dream Spaces of Alain Resnais

In Private Fears in Public Places (2006), once again Alain Resnais’ representation of architecture and space is marvelous. With exception of the opening shot, there is no outdoor scene in this film and the whole thing is happening in the beautiful flats, bars, and offices.
He suggests a new conception of space, at least in its cinematic terms, that lies in transparency and mobility of film spaces. His spaces are like a musical’s from late 1940s, open spaces divided with light and colors. There is no wall, and even no roof (there are shots from top of the flats, the same method Scorsese employed in Taxi Driver’s final scene), and in this “open” approach he finds the ability to connect the mental state of his character to the spaces and the overall mood of the film.
For me, the most striking moment appears in the first sequence of the film when Nicole (Laura Morante) notifies the real-estate broker (Andre Dussollier) about the strange way the owner has separated the apartment. And Resnais shows us the archaic ceiling that is cut in two by a narrow line of concrete. He suggests that we live in different houses but sometimes it seems we live in a house divided between us and the people that we know (or not know) and this crisscrossing lives, is the key theme of Private Fears in Public Places.
The use of cinemascope intensifies the presence of carefully designed interior spaces. According to Rosenbaum, this is only the third time Resnais has shot in scope, after his two most abstract and formally dazzling works, Le chant du Styrène (an industrial short film that was a source of inspiration for my own documentary about a batching plant ) and Last Year at Marienbad.
He shows sympathy with the pop culture and merges it -- in an obscure way -- to the most classics concepts of the art – like the inhabitants classic paintings on the walls.
It’s not strange that Jonathan Rosenbaum calls him “the last of the great Hollywood studio directors.” Because his language of filmmaking, in this case from architectural point of view, is more closer to classic masters of dream factory that to the contemporary directors or even the generation of modernists that he belongs to.
The dazzling opening shot, the only outdoor shot of the picture.

excellent use of CinemaScope

like a musical from 1940s

spaces divided with light and colors

There is no wall

Transparency of transforming spaces

The archaic ceiling: cut in half

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