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A unique and funny film from intellectual French director Resnais that combines a three-part narrative structure with fantasy, comedy, and musical elements. Raimondi is a wealthy turn-of-the-century eccentric who designs a "temple of happiness," in which people who visit revert to a state
of infancy. To create a Utopian aura, Raimondi's guests are exposed to only positive sensations--strains of harmonious music fill the air, and blindfolds keep out unpleasant sights--while they lie blissfully in oversized cribs. Raimondi's plan goes awry when Ardant, who never drank the assigned
potion, discovers that one of her friends accidentally died because of negligence. The arrival of WW I, however, puts an end to the temple of happiness and to Raimondi's dreams. Intercut with this episode is a present-day symposium on the methods of Raimondi and the possibility of achieving
Utopia, attended by teachers, philosophers, anthropologists, and city planners. The gist of the symposium is that the imagination must be nurtured and developed in order for lives to improve. This theory quickly leads to a difference of opinion among those in attendance and results in a flurry of
heated arguments. The third tale, which is intercut with the others and is related through the imaginations of a group of children in a forest, is a medieval one in which a warrior must battle a diabolical king. As usual with Resnais, the audience can comprehend part of the film but not another
(usually greater) portion, which seems completely out of reach. Instead of simply filming a story, Resnais films a puzzle. The viewer has the choice of whether or not to unravel Resnais's tightly woven structure. Unless one possesses a genius level IQ, it is probably best (for sanity's sake) just
to sit back and be bewildered by LIFE IS A BED OF ROSES.