As the just-updated Wikipedia article about recently-passed director Alain Renais states:
Alain Resnais(French: [alɛ̃ ʁɛnɛ]; 3 June 1922 – 1 March 2014) was a French film director and screenwriter whose career extended over more than six decades. After training as a film editor in the mid-1940s, he went on to direct a number of short films which included Night and Fog (1956), an influential documentary about the Nazi concentration camps.
Resnais began making feature films in the late 1950s and consolidated his early reputation with Hiroshima mon amour (1959), Last Year at Marienbad (1961), and Muriel (1963), all of which adopted unconventional narrative techniques to deal with themes of troubled memory and the imagined past. These films were contemporary with, and associated with, the French New Wave (la nouvelle vague), though Resnais did not regard himself as being fully part of that movement. He had closer links to the “Left Bank” group of authors and filmmakers who shared a commitment to modernism and an interest in left-wing politics. He also established a regular practice of working on his films in collaboration with writers previously unconnected with the cinema such as Jean Cayrol, Marguerite Duras, Alain Robbe-Grillet, Jorge Semprún and Jacques Sternberg..
For us, the French New Wave has always left us of two minds, between the admiration for an extraordinary cinematographic aesthetic full of elements of incredible beauty and a certain feeling of experimental play, undoubtedly necessary for the progress of the cinematographic language, but at the same time too complicated for most viewers (including yours truly).
We remember this French director more, however, because, as one of our readers pointed out, he is the co-director, alongside Robert Hessens, of the documentary “Guernica“. This documentary is based on the works of Picasso between 1902 and 1949, especially on the painting Guernica, to narrate, just like the painted masterpiece, the tragedy of Guernica. The Sacred City of the Basques, bombed by German and Italian planes under the orders of the insurgent generals led by Francisco Franco, to raze it to the ground.
The documentary is full of names of extraordinary quality, starting with its two directors, and followed by the author of the texts, poet Paul Eluard, who also wrote “The Victory of Guernica” (poem in French) (poem in Spanish) (poem in Italian); and the lead narrator, Maria Casares, the Galician actress who became one of the leading ladies of French cinema.
The tragedy of Guernica became a universal symbol of the horrors of war, thanks to Picasso’s work. But we will not forget that it was South African journalist George L. Steer and Australian journalist Noel Monks who told the truth to the world, laying bare the version of events as told by the guilty for what it was: a baldfaced lie.
We’ll leave you with the documentary, in two parts, with subtitles in English and Spanish.
Guernica (1950) Part 1 – Alain Resnais & Robert Hessens (English and Spanish Subtitles)
Guernica (1950) Part 2 – Alain Resnais & Robert Hessens (English and Spanish Subtitles)