33 Facts About Alain Resnais


Alain Resnais was a French film director and screenwriter whose career extended over more than six decades.


Alain Resnais had closer links to the "Left Bank" group of authors and filmmakers who shared a commitment to modernism and an interest in left-wing politics.


Alain Resnais established a regular practice of working on his films in collaboration with writers previously unconnected with the cinema such as Jean Cayrol, Marguerite Duras, Alain Robbe-Grillet, Jorge Semprun and Jacques Sternberg.


In later films, Alain Resnais moved away from the overtly political topics of some previous works and developed his interests in an interaction between cinema and other cultural forms, including theatre, music, and comic books.


Alain Resnais was born in 1922 at Vannes in Brittany, where his father was a pharmacist.


Alain Resnais was an eager reader, in a range that extended from classics to comic books, but from the age of 10 he became fascinated by films.


Alain Resnais left in 1945 to do his military service which took him to Germany and Austria with the occupying forces, as well as making him a temporary member of a travelling theatre company, Les Arlequins.

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Alain Resnais returned to Paris in 1946 to start his career as a film editor, but began making short films of his own.


Alain Resnais filmed it at first in 16mm, but when the producer Pierre Braunberger saw the results, Resnais was asked to remake it in 35mm.


In 1958 Alain Resnais undertook a commission from the Pechiney company to make short film, in colour and wide-screen, extolling the merits of plastics, Le Chant du styrene.


In 1967 Alain Resnais participated with six other directors, including Chris Marker and Jean-Luc Godard, in a collective work about the Vietnam war, Loin du Vietnam.


The film was unlucky in its release, and it was almost five years before Alain Resnais was able to direct another film.


Alain Resnais spent some time in America working on various unfulfilled projects, including one about the Marquis de Sade.


Alain Resnais published Reperages, a volume of his photographs, taken between 1948 and 1971, of locations in London, Scotland, Paris, Nevers, Lyon, New York and Hiroshima; Jorge Semprun wrote the introductory text.


Alain Resnais was eager that the dark subject should remain humorous, and he described it as "a macabre divertissement".


The action is punctuated by episodes of song which develop towards the end into scenes that are almost operatic; Alain Resnais said that his starting point had been the desire to make a film in which dialogue and song would alternate.


In subsequent years, Alain Resnais gave his attention to music of more popular styles.


Alain Resnais made Gershwin, an innovative TV documentary in which the American composer's life and works were reviewed through the testimonies of performers and filmmakers, juxtaposed with commissioned paintings by Guy Peellaert.


Alain Resnais remained entirely faithful to the play and he emphasised its theatricality by filming in long takes on large sets of evidently artificial design, as well as by marking off the acts of the play with the fall of a curtain.


Alain Resnais, having admired the plays of Alan Ayckbourn for many years, chose to adapt what appeared the most intractable of them, Intimate Exchanges, a series of eight interlinked plays which follow the consequences of a casual choice to sixteen possible endings.


Alain Resnais slightly reduced the number of permuted endings and compressed the plays into two films, each having a common starting point, and to be seen in any order.


Alain Resnais preferred working with "people of the theatre", and he said that he would never want to film a novel.


Alain Resnais explained however that what initially attracted him to the book was the quality of its dialogue, which he retained largely unchanged for the film.


Aimer, boire et chanter was the third film which Alain Resnais adapted from a play by Alan Ayckbourn, in this case Life of Riley, in which three couples are thrown into confusion by the news that a shared friend has a terminal illness.


Alain Resnais was often linked with the group of French filmmakers who made their breakthrough as the New Wave or nouvelle vague in the late 1950s, but by then he had already established a significant reputation through his ten years of work on documentary short films.

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Alain Resnais owned the largest private collection of comic books in France and in 1962 became the vice president and co-founder of an International Society for Comic Books, Le Club des bandes dessinees, renamed two years later as Centre d'Etudes des Litteratures d'Expression Graphique.


The importance of creative collaboration in Alain Resnais's films has been noted by many commentators.


Alain Resnais was known to treat the completed screenplay with great fidelity, to the extent that some of his screenwriters remarked on how closely the finished film realised their intentions.


Alain Resnais described his films as an attempt, however imperfect, to approach the complexity of thought and its mechanism.


Alain Resnais himself offered an explanation of this shift in terms of challenging what was the norm in filmmaking at the time: having made his early films when escapist cinema was predominant, he progressively felt the need to move away from exploration of social and political issues as that itself became almost the norm in contemporary cinema.


Alain Resnais himself traced a link to his teenage discovery of surrealism in the works of Andre Breton: "I hope that I always remain faithful to Andre Breton who refused to suppose that imaginary life was not a part of real life".


Alain Resnais was a regular member of his production team, working as assistant director on most of his films from 1961 to 1986.


Alain Resnais died in Paris on 1 March 2014; he was buried in Montparnasse cemetery.