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France, 1983 (MIFF 1984)

Director: Alain Resnais

"Life is a Novel"—Gothic novel, fairy tale and philosophical puzzle all in one seeming reputation of Napoleon's truism "la vie n'est pas un roman" (probably his version of "life wasn't meant to be easy").

The film opens deep in the Ardennes forest at the turn of the century A man of great wealth, enraptured by a beautiful woman, plans to build a "Radiant City" for a higher order of mankind. But, World War I diminishes his fortune, the beautiful woman has departed, and all that survives of his dream is the Temple of Happiness, an eclectic piece of architecture of monstrous dimensions.

Then the film takes us to 1983, the Temple has survived World War II and now houses a progressive school Experts are attending a seminar on "The Education of the Imagination", they become involved in insults and disputes, until another idealist dream is put forward.

While their elders talk about it, three children left to themselves, begin to use their imagination. A comic strip world of dragons, princes and damsels in distress springs to life with the Temple as its background. Multi-faceted in subject and style, this is Resnais' most intricate film since "Last Year at Manenbad" (1961).

See also...

Night and Fog

Resnais has built up his film on a counterpoint of present and past; the horrors of yesterday, shown in black and white, are interspersed with the remains of Auschwitz, filmed in colour. ... The ... More »


Claude Ridder has tried to shoot himself: he is picked up from the hospital by two strangers. taken on a mysterious car ride to a clinical centre, and prepared for an experiment in which he is shut ... More »

Nuit et Brouillard

Commissioned to mark the tenth anniversary of the liberation of the German concentration camps by Allied Forces, Alain Resnais' famous documentary presents a shattering picture of the camp at ... More »


Simon is secretly in love with Camille, but Camille has fallen for Marc. Marc is Simon's boss, and he's trying to sell an apartment to Odile, Camille's sister. Odile is determined to buy the ... More »


A young French actress has been making a film in Hiroshima. On the eve of her return to France she meets a Japanese architect. Hiroshima Mon Amour opens on their passionate embrace, she having ... More »


The subject of this short film may be summed up in a sentence birth, life and death of an imaginary tempest on the ... sea side. For the "tempest" part of the film, a special effect has been ... done ... More »

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