Robbe-Grillet’s L’Immortelle

Written by Joe D on November 16th, 2008

What an incredible experience! To see this amazing movie on a screen, a brand new 35 mm print in glorious, luminous Black and White! A religious experience! L’Immortelle is a superbly beautiful flm! I read an interview with Robbe -Grillet where he complained about the crew of this film. They were very professional, they didn’t want to do the unorthodox things he asked for, like jump cuts, dark scenes etc. He bad mouthed them pretty well. But the movie is so beautiful that he should forgive them. I watched Trans-Europe-Express right after and it didn’t look one quarter as good. I’ve read several of Robbe-Grillet’s novels, some I think are great, others I don’t like as much but when he is on, his stuff is among the most creatively inspirational of anything I’ve encountered. Maybe that’s part of his being such an innovator. He goes out on these creative limbs, exploring new ground in storytelling and it is so liberating! I feel such boundless inspiration because (as Robbe-Grillet so ably demonstrates) anything is possible.

L’Immortelle was shot in Turkey (Istanbul), the locations are like nothing I’ve ever seen, the film is like a puzzle, a recollection, a dream, a fantasy of oriental splendour, a Frenchman’s postcard view of Istanbul from inside a shuttered hotel room, an occurance on a dark road outside of town, a beautiful mysterious woman. In this film Robbe-Grillet captures the complex, overlapping reality he built the Noveau Roman (New Novel) on. Quite an achievement for his first film. There is a belly dancing scene that is one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen on a silver screen. The Middle Eastern music is amazing as well, I hope a soundtrack is available. Robbe-Grillet said that he spent a lot of time on the sound and you can tell. A dense montage of sounds, backgrounds, insects, street sounds, atmospheres, truly a rich sonic palate that works beautifully. I hope this film will travel and be shown all across the world, it’s been very hard to see for a long time and it deserves to be screened. It’s a real piece of Cinema that I think should be seen in a theater if possible. Bravo to the French Cultural arm of the French Embassy for striking the new 35mm prints and making them available to theaters here in the USA, imagine a government that takes Art seriously. Incroyable!

2 Comments so far ↓

  1. Dec
    Film Walrus

    Hopefully this will make its way to DVD? I’ve only seen Robbe-Grillet films via janky torrents, and I’d really like to put his stuff in my collection where I can rewatch it at leisure. I never feel I’ve really “gotten” it in one screening.

  2. Dec
    Joe D

    This one should be seen on film, get your local university to request it from the French cultural organization and screen it, or maybe a special screening at a local film festival?

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