Monday, November 02, 2009

Alain Robbe-Grillet: Trans-Europ-Express

I just got back from the Finnish Film Archive's screening of Alain Robbe-Grillet's Trans-Europ-Express (1966), a parody of French spy flicks of the sixties that's both hilarious and theoretical at the same time.

I'm not a big fan of French New Wave films. I suppose I should be, since I'm a young film buff living in Europe, but I've felt for some years now that many of the inventions of the French films of the sixties have become obsolete and not very effective today, even though there might be a dose of Verfrämmedungseffekt, to quote Bertolt Brecht on this. (I hope I spelled that right!) Same goes for Trans-Europ-Express: the metanarrative is clumsily made, the main narrative drags on for quite a while, the direction should've been more dynamic considering the film's theoretical contents. Now the viewer is only distracted, not entertained at the same time. There were some great moments - especially in the erotic scenes, which were pretty much ahead of their time in their kinkiness - which makes me think Robbe-Grillet made those clumsy and awkward moments in purpose. But the question still remains: why?

But don't take my word for it. Here's Senses of Cinema on the film, praising it very highly.

Here's also a very weird scene in which Jean-Louis Trintignant, the pervert smuggler of the film, is being interrogated.

The film, in all its clumsiness, made me think I should take my copy of Robbe-Grillet's Labyrintissa/In the Labyrinthe and read it.


Anders E said...

Sometimes I think that best thing to come out of the New Wave was Truffaut's interview book with Alfred Hitchcock. Well, "The 400 Blows" still holds up quite well.

Btw, did you know that the hairstyle of the main character in "The 400 Blows" actually was what inspired Richard Hell to cut his hair short which in turn would be known as the 70s spiky punk hairstyle? Now, THAT is influence.

Juri said...

Anders: I think that's a valid point. The book is terrific. What would we think about Hitchcock if Truffaut and Chabrol hadn't done those interviews? As a director, I think Truffaut is wildly overrated.