With its long tracking shots through cavernous library hallways and its skeptical corresponding text (courtesy of writer Rémo Forlani), Alain Resnais’ short essay film Toute la Mémoire du Monde imagines the Bibliothèque Nationale as a forbiddingly inhuman landscape in which man attempts to imprison “knowledge” in an effort to counter the limits of his own memory. Only in the act of individual selection – a single patron choosing a specific text – is there hope that this undifferentiated mass of knowledge can be redeemed, as the reader makes discriminating use of the collective national memory for the fulfillment of a constructive individual purpose. —http://aschenker.blogspot.com/2008/03/toute-la-m-du-monde.html
While a seminal figure of the French New Wave, Alain Resnais was not, like so many of his contemporaries, an alumnus of the film journal Cahiers du Cinema. In fact, he existed well outside of the sphere of filmmakers like Jean-Luc Godard, Francois Truffaut, and Jacques Rivette, with a dedication to formalism, modernist concerns, and social and political issues not found in the work of his fellow innovators. Focusing repeatedly on themes of time and memory, Resnais drew from the well of serious literature to offer a singular philosophical and artistic vantage point, employing enigmatic narrative structures, lush cinematography, and lyrical editing patterns to create some of the most provocative and controversial work of the period. Born June 3, 1922, in Vannes, France, Resnais began making his first 8 mm films at the age of 14. In 1943 he enrolled at the newly formed Institut des Hautes Etudes Cinematographie, leaving the following year after declaring his studies too theoretical. He… read more
The wealth of information stored within the Bibliothèque Nationale is truly astounding. Resnais crafted a superb short film that remains an essential preface to his most celebrated works.