They: You entered the Marienbad Cinema to watch Funny Games. The lobby was deserted, with hallways leading to silent offices, restrooms, concessions, the floor encrusted with the gum-like ornamentation of another age, the carpet so thick, so heavy, that no sound can be heard, as if the very ear of the moviegoer—
You: When was this?
They: 1997. Or '98.
You: It wasn't me. I have not seen it.
T: You said you had seen it.
Y: No, I have not. I've seen only the 2008 version.
T: You were there. Last year. You passed the pox office and entered the lobby—
Y: You said pox office.
T: You passed the box office and entered the lobby making no sound, as if the very ear of the person entering the pox office were—
Y: It was not me. I was not there.
T: You were! You purchased a single solitary Milk Dud and a thimble of Cherry Coke.
Y: No, always a box, always an entire box.
T: There was never a Milk Dud anyway. You entered the theater and sat watching Funny Games. It was in German.
Y: No, I did not see it. I did not see Ulrich Mühe's ankle struck by a golf club.
T: You see? You know it! You have seen it!
Y: I have not. I have only seen the 2008 version with Tim Roth.
T: Perhaps it was Ulrich Mühe and Susanne Lothar.
Y: No, it was Tim Roth and Naomi Watts.
T: Perhaps it was Mühe, perhaps it was Roth.
Y: Perhaps it was Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman.
T: Perhaps they were we. N'importe qui.
Y: And the dog?
T: It happened by. It perchance found its way onto the set.
Y: Why is it murdered in the film?
T: Because look how small the film is.
Y: No, no, I have not seen it. I've never been in here. I was out in the lobby. I was shopping. I stayed home. I was out of town. I had the chicken pox.
T: The film was projected outside of your room.
Y: In the hallway?
T: In the garden. An outdoor screening. Outside of your room.
Y: Which version?
T: Both of them.
Y: Which one came first?
T: They played at the same time.
Y: Two screens?
T: One screen. In the garden. Outside your room.
Y: Side by side? Like Jennifer Reeves: Funny Games Funny Games.
T: No, atop one another, like Michael Snow.
T: No, FFUUNNYYGGAAMMEESS.
Y: This did not happen, not last year. I just heard someone say that it was freezing cold outside last year. All of the screenings were cancelled. We can check the weather report in the library.
T: That's what I said. Snow.
Y: Tu est fous! Mad! Superimposing the two Funny Games!
T: You have seen them both.
Y: I have seen only one.
T: You could not have stayed in the lobby, the tromp l'oeil decor, the columns. It was empty. Everyone was seated. Everyone was watching a movie. I forget the title.
Y: Funny Games?
Michael Haneke: Where were you?
Y: Oh, hi. Umm, I was there. I was seated in the theater.
MH: I looked for you.
Y: I was in the balcony.
MH: Oh, OK. I checked the balcony.
T: There was never any balcony, anyway.
MH: It was probably just a fainting spell. Drink this. You will not die. It's not poison. The sky is not yellow. It's chicken.
T: The man who may be Michael Haneke said he had a Q&A to attend. He left your room, and you listened for the Q&A to begin in the adjoining room, but you heard nothing.
Y: Naomi Watts shoots her tormentor with a shotgun.
T: That ending will not do. I must have them alive!
Y: I presume the 1997 version is the same?
T: All of his movies are the same. But I find this one to be unique.
Y: No, they are all the same. Shh! Be quiet. He's coming.
MH: Perhaps I can be of some assistance: my violent ruffians are a pox upon us all. But you encourage them with your thoughts and deeds. You disgust me.
Y: Stop staring at They like that.
T: The man who may be Michael Haneke, whilst staring at us like that, will leave your room. He will wait outside as we discuss his film, its white interiors, its clean-cut characters. It looks simple. At first. At first.
MH: Tell me which film to play first.
Someone: The first film is always better.
Someone: The last film is always better.
Someone: Michael Haneke always wins. It's a trick of logarithms.
Someone: He plays them simultaneously for his amusement.
Someone: Michael Haneke simply knows all of the outcomes in advance.
Someone: He's a hack. Damn impressive, though.
MH: The last spectator to leave the theater loses.
Y: I have not seen the earlier one.
T: You have!
Y: Except in my head.
T: You have!
Y: When Tim Roth's ankle was struck, I saw Mühe in my head. I thought, What would this look like with Mühe instead?
T: You saw the older one in your head.
Y: I have seen only the newer one.
T: You said Mühe's performances was "ambiguous, minimally expressive".
Y: No, that was something other. I have not been to Cinema Marienbad since '97. Or '98.
MH: Tell me which one you'd like me to play first.
Someone: Play them simultaneously.
Someone: Like The Wizard of Oz and Dark Side of the Moon.
T: This story began last year. It was like some French-German co-production, with gravel and statuary and nowhere to get lost. It seemed. For me, there was nowhere to get lost. You sat in the lobby, with your mouth open as if you were about to say something, or scream, and the paper in your hand was ripped in half—
Y: By an usher.
T: Who, last year, bade you to enter.
Y: And yet I did not.
We saw both, and yet We never saw an ankle struck. Though we smelt it.
Indeed. Isn't it all off-screen, except the shotgun blast, which, of course, doesn't count?
Since I have pity on the people who stumble onto this post without having seen Last Year at Marienbad and at least one of the Funny Games -- and at the risk of deconstructing what shouldn't be deconstructed (jokes) -- let me say that I've obviously been enjoying the new print of Last Year at Marienbad that's playing for a week here, but I've also 1) been writing a quick review of Funny Games (US version) and 2) been recording a podcast with J. Robert about Michael Haneke. Hence my muddled head.
Brian's comment plays perfectly, here. How many people will come away from Funny Games thinking they've seen an ankle struck. That wily Haneke! And, likewise, might someone arrive at an old baroque hotel and think he's met a woman there before, perhaps last year, or if not there then in a garden at Fredericksbad, or Marienbad.
As for how Bob Dylan and Michael Snow were stirred into this, I'll leave that to some psychoanalyst to unpack.
Did anyone else make T and Y sound like Statler and Waldorf while reading this?
Hey, M. I see you've been posting to your site, lately. I really like your write-up of Youth Without Youth. It was one of my favorite films of last year, even though (and in some ways because) it's flawed.
By the way, if you heard Statler and Waldorf doing Marienbad, I hope Sam the Eagle was MH.
Hm. I had him pegged as Fozzy.
Yes, Youth Without Youth could have had a little more Marienbad X/A exchange and a whole lot less doppleganger exchange.
I finally saw Marienbad at the Castro yesterday. Great place to see this film, even if the projectionist seems like he doesn't really have his heart in it (I had to run out into the lobby to get him to stop displaying a digital DVD screen atop the 35mm Resnais image during the film's opening. Luckily I'm not the type to guy to commit a little off-screen violence myself...)
Heh, Lorraine told me about that. She must have been at the same screening. At one of the showings I attended, the lens for the trailers was messed up, but the projectionist noticed it right away and ... skipped the trailers. I had no trouble with the film itself.
Godard's trailer for Contempt ("a traditional film from Jean-Luc Godard") was fun, by the way, and the SFIFF reel is neat this year.
Yes, and it helped me identify one more film in the upcoming program (hint: I saw it at Sundance but did not write about it for GreenCine or talk to you about it in that podcast we recorded, but I did write a little something on the short film that played with it).
As long as I'm free-associating on Marienbad and the idea of remaking Funny Games, it strikes me that another similarity is where the two films sit in each filmmaker's oeuvre. Marienbad is so abstract as to almost resist any cultural attachment. The hotel is a bubble. Some commentators have read into words like "treason" and Rosmer (as a reference to Ibsen's Rosmersholm?) to find comments on the contemporaneous war in Algeria, but I think screenwriter Robbe-Grillet resisted that sort of thing in his work. And yet Marienbad is situated between two films that clearly do play with memory in a real context, such as reflecting on the bomb dropped on Hiroshima.
Likewise, the abstract Funny Games remake comes after Haneke's Caché which explores some similar themes as Funny Games but connects them to real events, again France's relationship with Algeria.
In both cases, we're seeing filmmakers hyper-focus on the nucleus of their concerns. For what it's worth, I think Caché is far more interesting than Funny Games, whereas I'd be hard-pressed to choose a favorite among Resnais's three.