Hiroshima Mon Amour (Hiroshima, My Love) Reviews
From the opening shots of Hiroshima, Mon Amour, the long mesmeric tracking shots bring to mind Resnais's previous film, Night and Fog. Also shot on location, the first part of Hiroshima, Mon Amour feels like a documentary as shots of the Hiroshima memorial are juxtaposed with newsreel footage of the actual victims of the disaster. Yet unlike Night and Fog, the documentary doesn't feel objective, but rather personal & distant. Here Resnais displays the inability to cope with a horror of this magnitude. He even shows clips of a Japanese reenactment as part of this woman's mental process in the mueseum, which serves to show how the woman will never know the extent of the tragedy and her thoughts of it are reduced to vapid and shallow conjecture.
It is a film about memory and identity. The film revolves around two lovers who wish to escape the horrors of their past but still retain the beauty which they previously experienced. It is about the necessity of forgetfulness, but also the overwhelming fear that accompanies it.
Resnais also focuses a lot on the skin of the lovers which highlights the frailty of man, which was a crucial idea during the filming of this in 1958 when the threat of nuclear war with the Soviet Union was ubiquitous.
Although some scenes feel rather laborious to get through, it is a very important film and one that is bound to stir up many emotions in the viewer.
The backdrop of Hiroshima, Mon Amour, is obviously the horrors left behind by the atomic bomb. The woman herself acknowledges the irony of falling in love in a place like that. The images of disease and misery, in contrast with the lovers', constitutes a great deal of the poetry the film involves.
Throughout most of the story, both characters are shown in moments of intimacy: either having face-to-face conversations, or in bed, sharing their deepest secrets and most bizarre thoughts. In a way, their love is born out of interest, or need: both characters have survived tragedies (linked also to the war in one way or another), and that particular point in common is what brings them together. They find in each other a space of trust to let out their pain. They re-imagine the situations of their past including the other: their connection is so profound that it seems, as they often repeat, impossible to envision life without the other.
Hiroshima Mon Amour is a very experimental, poetic film. Alain Resnais's masterpiece is the precursor of such beautiful films as Before Sunrise, or Lost in Translation, or A Man and a Woman, only that the waters here run deeper and darker. Resnais shapes his characters out of the cries and the loss of World War II, showing his audience just how much damage the conflict caused. Thousands of stories of abandonment behind the faces of 2 characters. At the same time, it's also a film that exemplifies with unbelievable beauty the possible randomness of empathy: The relationship between the leads is unforgettable, epic, transcending chemistry or compatibility. But why in Hiroshima? Why this man, or this woman? Why now? Resnais manipulates their memories, their perceptions, time, and space, to create one of the most intense love stories I've ever seen onscreen, even when the most evident expression of physical love he allows himself to show is but a kiss.
The image of the woman's hand on the man's back is an icon of French new wave, and one of the most significant representations of intimacy world cinema has ever produced.
Emmanuelle Riva is gorgeous, and Resnais narration is innovative, paused and wildly emotional.
"Hiroshima Mon Amour" is just one of those legendary films whose allure can never be easily diminished. Yes, it is a truly impressive exercise in innovative filmmaking technique (it is the film that has deeply influenced the French New Wave), but buried deep within all its picturesque framings and compositions is a beating heart and a crying soul.
With a quietly affectionate screenplay written by Marguerite Duras that contains stream of consciousness dialogues that's as romantically longing as they are emotionally detached, "Hiroshima Mon Amour" conveys its power through its two main characters' internal articulacy. They speak in a manner that transcends the limitations of the tongue. They speak as if their feelings overlap with their vocabularies. They converse as if they see through each other's hearts. A French actress (Emmanuelle Riva) and a Japanese architect (Eiji Okada), the two of them represent the confusion we call love and the despairing post-romantic reality we call pain. They both know that they want each other but they just can't do it.
In the film's early scenes, we see how happy the French actress is when she's with the architect (shot in effective close-ups). But slowly and effectively, director Alain Resnais was able to construct her ironically fractured past by way of fragmentary flashbacks in Nevers, France that's as dream-like as the cityscapes of post-war Hiroshima. Sporting a haircut like that of Maria Falconetti in "The Passion of Joan of Arc" in the past, the French actress, just like the aforementioned saint, is a martyr, but not in the context of religion but of love.
Resnais has highlighted the fact that, like all women, the French actress just wants to feel love more than anything else but is deeply scarred to try yet again. She consummates the meager sexual pleasures with the architect but she's too afraid to go beyond that. She wants to feel once more. She wants to erase the past, forget and fall in love again but just can't because she knows that she won't be ready yet.
There's this powerful scene in the film where the actress is telling the architect the story of how she once loved a German soldier back in Nevers, France when suddenly, the architect seems to take on the identity of the deceased German lover as he identifies more and more with the story. The actress, on the other hand, lost in her own romantic recollection, unconsciously talks back to the architect as if she's talking to the German himself. Despite of her new-found connection with the Japanese gentleman, she still struggles to see herself together with other men other than her tragic lover. She's a captive of her own painful memories.
With a slightly upbeat musical score that seems to mock the utter desperation in the French actress and the Japanese architect's happenstance romance, "Hiroshima Mon Amour" is a film that does not scoff at the idea of love outside marriage but instead seems to mourn the idea as to why should this limitation exist. Although that's just a mere observation from yours truly, I just can't help but feel that aside from the French actress' inescapably scarred past, what may also be holding them back is the simple fact that they are both married.
There's this scene in the film where both of them, standing quietly across each other in a living room, straightforwardly expressed their utmost admirations to their respective husband and wife. Sure, for some reasons explainable only by the heart, they want to be with each other, but they are also aware of the fact that their marriages are too good to be on the losing end of their intended romantic transgression.
In another key scene, notice how the architect is chasing the actress through the streets of Hiroshima yet the latter keeps on moving and the former, uncharacteristic for a person who wants to catch up with someone, merely preferred to trail her. They want to hold each other yet they also want distance and space. "You're destroying me. You're good for me", the actress told the architect while they are presumably making love in the earlier moments of the film. There's the paradox of their romance right there.
"Hiroshima Mon Amour", aside from being a landmark film that has launched an entire cinematic movement, is an unforgettable love story not of two people but of two longing souls who, because of circumstances, just can't be together. "You saw nothing in Hiroshima", the Japanese architect said to the actress in the film's early scenes. Maybe that's what they need to believe in to properly move on.
But with Hiroshima...Duras dictated to Resnais that Amour isn't a possessive object,it's rather the location that causes it to be possessive between 2 lost souls.
A kiss is all that remains...
"Yes, that is my name. Your name is Ne-vers. Nevers in France. "
More than a decade after the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, a visiting French woman has an affair with a Japanese architect. It is an impossible relationship since both are married. The two form an emotional connection that causes the woman to remember a traumatic prior relationship, which helps her to eventually purge herself of this anguish, but never the memories themselves. Hiroshima Mon Amour works as a documentary on memory. It is also one of the most influential works in film history. The use of seamless and analogous transitions between past and present, memory and reality creates the sense that time itself is shattered. Films such as Ashes of Time, 2046, and Memento owe much of their impact on this innovative editing.