Blasblog: At The Movies With Daphne Guinness And DVF
I’ve been all over the place these last few weeks—from California to Cannes to Canada—so when I got back to New York, jet-lagged and exhausted, I was looking forward to an evening off. Then comes the text message from Daphne Guinness about this must-see, amazing documentary that’ll play one time only in New York and disappear. So much for my night in. But when Daphne calls something “a jewel of filmmaking,” I’m inclined to believe her—the lady knows jewels better than anyone I know. This one was a making-of doc about Alain Resnais’ 1961 art-house classic Last Year in Marienbad, which screened last night at NYU’s Cantor Film Center. (Talk about surreal—entering the venue where I took Psych 101 freshman year and my Spanish finals not long after with a dressed-to-the-nines Daphne Guinness. When worlds collide!)
Resnais’ film is about a couple, who may or may not be lovers, basically wandering around a breathtaking château. (The flick’s renowned for ambience more than plot.) It stars Delphine Seyrig (who bears a striking resemblance to Guinness in her Steven Klein-shot Akris campaign) and Giorgio Albertazzi, and fabulous costumes by Coco Chanel. But the making-of was a treasure all its own. It had been lost for 50 years: It was shot by actress Françoise Spira, who had a bit part in the film and took her own life a few years afterward. The legend of Spira’s remarkable backstage pass had grown for decades, until, two years ago, her six reels were found in a basement in France. The French intellectual Bernard-Henri Lévy got his hands on it and restored it with Olivier Corpet of France’s IMEC Archive.
Volker Schlöndorff, an Academy Award-winning German filmmaker who was a second assistant director on the Resnais original, provided the narration and introduced the documentary last night. (He produced a napkin that Seyrig had kissed during filming). Lévy co-hosted the screening and reception afterward with Diane von Furstenberg, who told me that Lévy is one of the few people in her life that she says yes to before he even says what he wants. But Last Year in Marienbad alone would’ve been enough for her. “I can remember seeing the movie when it came out,” she said, “and to this day when I get dressed in a hotel room, this is what I think of in my mind.”