Those familiar with the work of novelist-filmmaker Alain Robbe-Grillet were not very surprised by the announcement of his death this past week at the age of 85. For, in fact, as those who’ve moved through any of his works know, he most likely didn’t die. He probably never really existed. Or if it was indeed true that Robbe-Grillet drew breath for a number of years, it was merely because someone saw him do it. Or thought they did. The breaking of a wine glass could’ve easily woken them out of their reverie, and they would’ve discovered that ARG had been in their salon with an uncommonly attractive woman (missing one shoe and hiding a pair handcuffs around her wrists). The things he was overheard saying actually happened several months earlier, at a different party, with a different woman listening. Or, far more likely, haven’t happened yet….
On the clip I’ve uploaded to salute Monsieur RG, I can merely comment that any person who singlehandedly created his own literary genre, le nouveau roman, deserves our attention and admiration. Of the many mysteries he created – I regard his tales as puzzles to be assembled, mysteries that are composed strictly of clues — the one that most recently got a mainstream release on these shores was his dream-piece of kink, La Belle Captive(1983), from Koch Lorber (the first and only release of his film work outside of the repeated renditions of Marienbadthat we’ve had over here). I have uploaded my review of the DVD release of the film as it appeared on the Funhouse some months back, including my reading of a single paragraph that was included in the U.S. version of the book, a précis of the book’s rather loose-limbed “plot,” as it were. The fact that any thorough study of ARG would have to plumb both the intricacies of 20th-century fiction and also make mention of the kinky streak possessed by both he and his wife, makes the man worthy of our very strict attention. His films and literature never, ever settled for the “it was all just a dream” cop-out finale, but it is true that after reading or viewing his work, it was hard to look at the world in the same way again. And, having attended a screening of his L’Immortelle at the Alliance Francaise this week, where pissed-off viewers were eagerly leaving the salle de projection, I can say (as we did when talking about Bergman and Antonioni), that his work has true resonance in this rather empty new century.
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