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TO DEC. 9
The oldest of the French New Wave directors, Alain Resnais released his first fiction feature in 1959, the same year as Truffaut’s The Four Hundred Blows, and a year earlier than Godard’s Breathless. But by then he’d been making short documentaries for more than a decade. It’s been suggested that Resnais’s experience with censorship—notably on Statues Also Die, a short about French colonialism in Africa he made with Chris Marker—influenced his elliptical, ambiguous style and enduring interest in war and repression (of both people and memories). Certainly these ideas found a striking expression in his feature debut, Hiroshima, Mon Amour (pictured, the film screens at 2:30 p.m.on Friday, Nov. 10, and Saturday, Nov. 11), which takes a brief love affair between a French actress and a Japanese architect as the impetus for a meditation on war and remembrance. Even more influential—and more open to interpretation—is his second film, the haunting and ominous Last Year at Marienbad (at 12:30 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 10, and Saturday, Nov. 11, and at 4 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 12). The 1963 film Muriel Ou Le Temps d’Un Retour (at 2 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 17, and at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 18) is the third in the trilogy of great early Resnais films, while 1968’s Je T’Aime, Je T’Aime (at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 11) applies the director’s trademark style to a lighter, sci-fi premise. This retrospective also presents four of Resnais’s more recent films, including his biggest success of the ’70s, the sociobiological Mon Oncle d’Amerique (at 3 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 18); his latest, the Dennis Potter-inspired musical Same Old Song (at 3 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 8, and at 12:30 and 3 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 9); and two linked films, never released in the U.S. or previously seen in D.C., based on Alan Ayckbourn plays, Smoking (at 2:30 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 24, and at 4 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 26) and No Smoking (at 2 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 1, and at 4 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 3). At the National Gallery of Art’s East Building auditorium, 4th and Constitution Avenues NW. Free. (202) 737-4215. (Mark Jenkins)