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L'immortelle1963

  • 3.9
With its highly stylized camerawork and fragmented narrative structure, Alain Robbe-Grillet's L'IMMORTELLE is a cinematic arabesque that teases the eye with visual delights, yet sadistically confounds the viewer's expectations. Not dissimilar to Alan Resnais's LAST YEAR AT MARIENBAD, which he had written two years earlier, L'IMMORTELLE involves a Frenchman, traveling in Istanbul, who is fascinated by the city's language, architecture, and exotic culture. He soon becomes entranced by a mysterious woman who seems to encourage his attentions but remains, maddeningly, just beyond his reach. His pursuit of her leads him into the criminal underworld with deadly consequences.

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6 members like this review

A garden of Turkish delights, sensuous and strange, presented with enthusiastic apathy.

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Member Reviews (12)

127953.small
top reviewer

A garden of Turkish delights, sensuous and strange, presented with enthusiastic apathy.

6 members like this review
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top reviewer

Beautiful, intriguing and otherworldly film that creates its own narrative and entices the viewer to enter its world, in this case, Turkey. Refreshingly nonlinear.

3 members like this review

A ghost story. A man haunted by memories of a women he became obsessed with and whom he may or may not have been responsible for the death of. He himself may be a ghost doomed to endlessly repeat this journey of obsession leading to her death and to his own. Robbe-Grillet's directorial debut it lays the groundwork for all his films to follow and acts as a sort of bridge between those films and his earlier work as the writer of Last Year at Marienbad.

3 members like this review
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top reviewer

Thanks for the review !! Truly deep and insightful !!!

8dae6774defd1d0f91cc7dd2835ce800?default=https%3a%2f%2fd3uc4wuqnt61m1.cloudfront.net%2fassets%2favatars%2fmale%2favatar m 0083
top reviewer

You could show this movie to friends and family who don't go for "artsy" stuff. Compared to other Robbe-Grillet films, it's straightforward; instead of circling from the beginning, the signature drift ("is this real or imagined?") really sets in about two-thirds of the way through. The director/author's standard obsessions are all there, but subtler, giving the film an atmosphere somewhere between Dreyer's "Vampyr" and Roeg's "Don't Look Now." Great cinematography, too: the bright light drives the unnamed protagonist into darkness that may belong to the desolate landscape or reflect his own emptiness. Or both. As the film progresses, the night just gets thicker and thicker....

3 members like this review
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Thanks Erik !!!

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4 1/2_the girl is great_the guy is a stiff_beautifully shot_all of the frozen motion is great_totally a mystery but a beautiful one

1 member likes this review
191242.small
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Thanks Nick !!!! As usual, your review is short and straight to the point !!!

Very much a psychoanalytical premise. I am still confused. However, this is great stuff.

1 member likes this review
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top reviewer

A cinematic meditation on transitory infatuation by way of epistemic nihilism. Slow moving and cyclical but a feast for the eyes. A man meets a woman in a new town but is denied all knowledge about her. Quite boring, but pretty - like the main female character.

191242.small
top reviewer

Alain Robbe-Grillet's L'immortelle (1963) is a very complex work of Cinematic Art.

On a literal level of analysis, it is rather incomprehensible. Only when we NOT attempt to interpret it as a rational portrayal of reality but, rather, as a symbolic portrayal of reality do we come closer to a possible meaning for this work of art.

Before delving into the deeper structure of this film, however, it would be helpful to consider the surface structure relationship between the two main characters, Andre the professor, and Lale, the "mysterious" woman that he meets upon his arrival in Istanbul, Turkey.

In the character of Andre, I see an instance of a theme that I have found in many French films, namely that "falling in love makes you stupid". As with other instances of this theme in French cinema, Andre falls suddenly and passionately "in love" with a woman he just met, a woman who refuses to divulge to Andre anything about herself. Such a state of affairs would naturally make any "non-stupid" man in Andre's position justifiably suspicious about the moral character of such a woman in regard to what she has to hide. Yet he seems to fall deeper "in love" with her as she continues to hide the very basic details of her life from him. Andre's "stupidity" here is totally incongruent with a man who is a highly educated professor.

One day Lale just disappears from Andre's life without leaving a clue. A man with any common sense would just assume that the woman "dumped" him and just move on with his life. But, no, "stupid" Andre still feels that he "is in love" with this woman enough to want to find her, although she gave him no information about herself that would enable him to do so. Still, Andre walks the streets of Istanbul, looking for Lale, the woman who has obviously just "dumped" him.

When Andre does accidentally find Lale, she is standing on a street corner in provocative attire, which would suggest to any "non-stupid" man that Lale is, in fact, a prostitute, and that this was the reason for her secrecy in her relationship with him. But "stupid" Andre doesn't even seem to consider this possibility and simply agrees to go on a ride with her, whereupon she has an accident and gets killed.

End of the love affair now for Andre, right? Oh, no!! The "stupidity" of the character Andre goes on even at this point by still trying to discover details about Lale's life. He even somehow finds the very car in which Lale was killed, now repaired, and buys it, and reenacts the accident wherein Lale got killed and, in the process, gets killed himself, thusly maintaining the theme "falling in love makes you stupid" unto his own death, or perhaps his own suicide.

That this "stupid love" on Andre's part is not "real", and may even be delusional is symbolically emphasized in the early part of the film when Lale makes repeated suggestions to Andre that his whole experience in Istanbul is "just a dream". These suggestions are an entrée for the viewer into the deeper levels of analysis of this film.

Curiously, the film tells the viewer nothing about Andre other than that he is a "professor" from France who moved to Istanbul for a new teaching position. But why would a professor from culturally upscale France take a teaching position in the cultural hinterlands of Turkey? Of course, if a professor's field of academic expertise directly dealt with Turkish culture, then this would be a reasonable explanation. Short of this, a professor in some non-Turkish academic field might take a teaching job in Turkey because of an intense, and informed personal interest In Turkey. However, neither of these two possibilities seem to apply to Professor Andre because he is totally ignorant and uninformed about Turkey altogether. He knows nothing of the Turkish language, and is so uninformed about Istanbul and the Turkish culture that he needs the local Lale to act as his tour guide and cultural informant.

To me, this suggests that either: 1) Andre left France not because he wanted to leave, but because he was forced to leave, or 2) Andre never left France at all, that his whole "Turkish adventure" is just a psychotic hallucination in the mind of a mentally ill professor still living in France, cloistered within the ivory towers of academia.

1) Andre may have been forced to leave France and to relocate to Turkey because of some scandal, or because of his general inadequacy as a professor, either of which made him unemployable in France. The confusing, non-linear sequence of the film, the obsessive repetition of already shown scenes, as well as Andre's obsessive "love" for Lale may symbolize the mental deterioration, the downward spiral of a ruined man.

2) The confusing, non-linear sequence of the film, the obsessive repetition of already shown scenes, as well as Andre's obsessive "love" for Lale may also symbolize the psychotic hallucinations of a mentally ill professor still actually living in France, a professor who might be so sexually inadequate, and so socially isolated that he has reached the mental breaking point, and mentally escaped on a "Turkish adventure", replete with a mysterious temptress.

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top reviewer

I tried. I kept shifting and the situations changed. I followed and followed some expectations. But I fell asleep several times, waiting for something to happen, some contact to be made, some pattern that made sense. I failed.

This film has a quality which is immaculate, exquisite. Visually pristine, saturated light, sharp focus. There are elements of horror: sudden switches of scene or perspective, the actors' still poses and physical restraint, inquisitive or inscrutable staring eyes, and the soundtrack is packed with music - either plaintive or carefree, and an overwhelming variety of sounds and noises. Will someone please translate the Greek and Turkish/Arabic dialogue? The female lead in her Nina Ricci costumes has a regal presence, impeccable, uncompromising - not untouchable but indifferent and thus unassailable. The aura is one of serenity despite the menacing sounds and images, disoriented wandering, the deception and confusion all around. Dazzling, fascinating! Suggestion: 'Fellini Roma'.

I loved it. Eerie and beautiful, creating a sense of unease and allure simultaneously, perhaps leading the viewer through a lonely mans dream about kidnapped women involved in potential sex trafficking operation in Istanbul... that's up for grabs, but there is something very Jungian and dreamlike about this film, that taps into the male psyche and his anima. Or, think a very French, subtle, artsy 50 shades of Gray ... slightly. It is hard to define this film.

The soundtrack is wonderful as well.

A second viewing is in order.