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Blu-Ray review: Alain Robbe-Grillet: Six Films 1963 - 1974 Blu-ray Box set

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★★★★☆

Now this is weird stuff. Alain Robbe-Grillet's surreal, sensual, occasionally explicit and frequently bizarre films have been unavailable for decades. They were never released on DVD in the UK and only sporadically in other countries. Now they have been collected together, gorgeously remastered in High Definition and released on Blu-ray disc by the British Film Institute.

Alain Robbe-Grillet is perhaps better known to some as a writer, both about cinema and novels in the 1950s. However, his films are something else entirely. They have an arresting visual sensibility. The plots are hard to follow, deliberately opaque at times and nothing short of stunning to look at.

The box set opens up with The Immortal One (1963) and closes with Successive Slidings of Pleasure (1974).

Throughout the films you can see Robbe-Grillet grow steadily more confident, both with his representation of sex and characterisation, but also with his own visual style. He is an Artistic filmmaker with a capital A.

A film like Successive Slidings of Pleasure is likely to infuriate some, as are the movies that open more simply such as The Man Who Lies (1968) and Eden and After (1970). Those who are expecting coherent plots better leave their hopes at the door. This is immersive, poetic filmmaking rather than narratively riveting.

Perhaps seeing his pictures groups together highlights some of their weaknesses in a more profound way. Sometimes his style can feel pretentious and rather empty. But goodness, what a swirling, hypnotic and artistically accomplished world he creates. These films aren’t for everyone, but those who enjoy this type of thing should relish them.

A note on the release: The High Definition presentations featured in this box set are truly superb, as are the supporting extras (including a rich and detailed booklet). A typically excellent release from the BFI.

Alain Robbe-Grillet: Sex Films 1963 – 1974 is released on Blu-ray and DVD in the UK by the BFI, Certificate 18.




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