Voice Choice: The Immortal Alain Robbe-Grillet


Fitting for an artist whose most enduring contribution to history is the nouveau romain, even the title of this BAM retrospective—The Immortal Alain Robbe-Grillet—is a language game, a play on Robbe-Grillet’s overdue election to the ranks of the Académie Française’s so-called “immortals.” As a novelist, Robbe-Grillet toyed endlessly with perspective, with surfaces—both of people and of elaborately, repetitively described objects—and with the unreliability of his own medium; in these respects, he was destined to become a filmmaker, and his first script, for Last Year at Marienbad (1961), was a Picasso-sized sensation the year the film was released in France. Essentially a riff on the most ancient and tired of come-ons (“Didn’t we meet at Marienbad last year?”), the resolutely arthouse Marienbad is less difficult than dizzying. BAM will be screening it and new prints of four of the pictures Robbe-Grillet directed himself (including 1966’s Trans-Europ-Express, in which he also starred) in the wake of the avant-gardist’s death in February. Opens tonight, through July 15, BAM, 30 Lafayette Avenue, Brooklyn, 718-636-4100,, $11–$12 ZACH BARON