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TRAVEL AGENTS: ALAIN RESNAIS’S JE T’AIME, JE T’AIME AND THE CINEMATIC TIME MACHINE

Alain Resnais, Je t’aime, je t’aime, 1968, 35 mm, color, sound, 91 minutes. Claude Ridder (Claude Rich). Photo: Film Desk/Bleeding Light Film Group/Mag Bodard.

BY 1968, Alain Resnais had completed four feature films that dwell upon the nature of time and memory and disrupt standard narrative chronology. In each, he employs disjunctive styles of editing to tell fractured, nonlinear tales, shuttling between the present, the future, and the past in ways that sometimes baffled contemporary audiences. In Hiroshima mon amour (1959), two lovers relive wartime traumas through flashbacks that seem to overwhelm them; in Last Year at Marienbad (1961), the unnamed visitors to a baroque chateau wander its mirrored halls and ruminate on a past love story, while trapped in the repetitive loops of an eternal present; both Muriel ou le temps d’un retour (Muriel, or the Time of Return, 1963) and La Guerre est finie (1966) inject moments of enigma into relatively straightforward storytelling through erratic cutaways, flash-forwards, and repetition, dislodging

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