Resnais' previous and subsequent films were often directly engaged in politics: the Night and Fog of concentration camps, a love affair tinged with politics in Hiroshima mon Amour. But in Marienbad, Resnais puts the real world aside to build something that only seldom is achieved in art — a perfectly imagined, self-contained world. It's a world that's best experienced in full immersion, in a dark theater on a huge screen; but in the absence of that, Criterion's release is essential viewing.
The bonus disc includes two early Resnais documentaries, Toute la mémoire du monde (1956), whose tracking shots through vast libraries prefigure Marienbad's camera gymnastics; and Le chant du styrène (1958). Also on board is a half-hour documentary featuring interviews with surviving members of the production team. They were Young Turks working on this production, Resnais included, but their dedication to the project - even though the script mystified many of the participants - was crucial to this masterpiece. In fact, it is through the meticulous craftsmanship that the film is actually less convoluted than its making. To take one example, a scene where X and A are followed down a long corridor turns out to be assembled from shots of three different corridors. The script girl (Sylvette Baudrot, who still works with Resnais today) helped bring scenes shot months apart into a seamless flow, taking a gesture that Delphine Seyrig makes to turn away in one shot, continue into the second shot, filmed a month later.