While a seminal figure of the French New Wave, Alain Resnais was not, like so many of his contemporaries, an alumnus of the film journal Cahiers du Cinema. In fact, he existed well outside of the sphere of filmmakers like Jean-Luc Godard, Francois Truffaut, and Jacques Rivette, with a dedication to formalism, modernist concerns, and social and political issues not found in the work of his fellow innovators. Focusing repeatedly on themes of time and memory, Resnais drew from the well of serious literature to offer a singular philosophical and artistic vantage point, employing enigmatic narrative structures, lush cinematography, and lyrical editing patterns to create some of the most provocative and controversial work of the period.
Born June 3, 1922, in Vannes, France, Resnais began making his first 8 mm films at the age of 14, later studying drama under the tutelage of Rene Simon. In 1943 he enrolled at the newly formed Institut des Hautes Etudes Cinematographie, leaving the following year after declaring his studies too theoretical. He then spent the mid-'40s working primarily as an actor, signing on with an Allied Occupation performance troupe called Les Arlequins. Resnais returned to filmmaking in 1945, helming the surrealist 16 mm short comedy Schema d'une Identification. The full-length Ouvert pour Cause d'Inventaire followed in 1946, and like its predecessor appears to no longer exist.