Hiroshima Mon Amour

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Total Count: 34


Audience Score

User Ratings: 9,982
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Movie Info

An extramarital affair between a Japanese architect and a French film maker recalls the horrors of the atomic bomb and the prospects for world peace.

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Critic Reviews for Hiroshima Mon Amour

All Critics (34) | Top Critics (6)

  • Exquisitely beautiful and harrowing meditation on war and love.

    Jan 15, 2016 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…

    Kate Muir

    Times (UK)
    Top Critic
  • "Hiroshima Mon Amour" will always be too studied a masterwork for some tastes. But Riva's performance, chief among its triumphs, remains electrifying.

    Oct 30, 2014 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…
  • That rare movie in which present and past meld in every frame to convey a sense of time obliterated, or a dream having a nightmare.

    Oct 16, 2014 | Full Review…
  • The first film to juxtapose disastrous erotic passion with the political disasters of the mid century.

    Oct 14, 2014 | Full Review…
  • Although it presents, on occasion, a baffling repetition of words and ideas, much like vaguely recurring dreams, it, nevertheless, leaves the impression of a careful coalescence of art and craftsmanship.

    May 20, 2003 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
  • Integrating past and present, poetic images and documentary footage, music and Marguerite Duras' dialogue, the film achieved a structural balance of such emotional and intellectual power that audiences were stunned.

    Jan 1, 2000 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Hiroshima Mon Amour

  • Oct 11, 2018
    A poetic and haunting film about the tragedy of death, the ability people have of picking up the pieces and moving on, and yet history inexorably repeating itself, both in individual lives and with mankind. It's got an undercurrent of anti-war messaging in it as we see the horrifying results of the atomic bomb in graphic detail, but the film is more than that. The cinematography is beautiful, both in Hiroshima and the Loire Valley, and director Alain Resnais tells the story brilliantly via flashbacks and meaningful little moments, those which would stand out in one's memory. The premise is fairly simple: a French woman (Emmanuelle Riva) has a short affair with a Japanese man (Eiji Okada) while she's in Hiroshima acting in a film, but both of them know it's short-lived. They're both married, she's due to fly back to France, and she confesses that she's never gotten over a forbidden affair she had as a teenager with a German soldier fourteen years earlier, during the war. She's still traumatized by this, so much so that she sees this new lover as a version of the man she knew from the past, and a pale version at that. As she speaks about it, she uses pronouns as if she were still talking to her old lover, and we can see from the flashbacks just how crushed she was - driven to madness, shunned by the French townspeople as a traitor, and made to live silently in a cold cellar by her parents. It's a harrowing tale. The love she has in Hiroshima has some incredible erotic moments, even if they are brief and restrained. Keep an eye on Emmanuelle Riva's hands in this film as she caresses him; they are so loving. And yet, the film is quite brutal in its honesty, and he's forced to hear both her memories from the past and, towards the end, see another man approach her, visualizing how replaceable he is. He's just a link in a chain for her, just as she is for him. "I meet you. I remember you. Who are you?" she says, and "I don't mind being like a thousand women to you." It's a cynical view of love that may leave you cold, particularly as Marguerite Duras' script borders on pretentiousness at times. In putting the tragedy of a single soldier's death next to the death of hundreds of thousands of people at Hiroshima, it reinforces how tragic all of those lives lost were; they all had their own stories, even if in both cases they were part of "the enemy." However, it's even more tragic when we reflect that mankind will move on, soon forget, and repeat the same mistakes, just as lovers move on, soon forget, and meet new lovers. We see a dual to the horror of forgetting war when he says "Some years from now, when I have forgotten you and other romances like this one have recurred through sheer habit, I will remember you as a symbol of love's forgetfulness. This affair will remind me how horrible forgetting is." This is echoed in her lines "Just as in love, there is this illusion, this illusion that you will never be able to forget, the way I had the illusion, faced with Hiroshima, that I would never forget." Forgetting to some extent is necessary to heal and move on even when it seems impossible, and yet it can also be inevitable, and render what we forget meaningless. It's interesting to think about. One of the little scenes early on that I loved was when he visits her 'peace movie' set, and the two of them begin talking. As she smiles at him in the sunshine, a demonstrator walks by carrying a picture of a victim of the bombing, which is a somber juxtaposition, and yet so subtly executed by Resnais. There are countless other moments, including when we see the various places she and the German soldier find to carry on with each other, which has overtones of cheapness and lust, and yet, also love trying to find a way in an impossible time. Just as she's irreparably damaged by the love of her life's death, so mankind seems irreparably changed after the Hiroshima bombing. What a fascinating response she has to his question about what Hiroshima meant to her: "The end of the war... completely, I mean. Astonishment that they dared, astonishment that they succeeded. And for us, the start of an unknown fear. Then, indifference. And fear of that indifference." It's an existential moment in a brave new world, and perhaps that's what this film really is - an existential romance, one that is devastating.
    Antonius B Super Reviewer
  • Jan 07, 2018
    Making use of real footage of the horrors in Hiroshima, unparalleled editing with long dissolves and flashbacks to suggest obtrusive memories, two magnificent central performances and a lyrical dialogue by Marguerite Duras, Alain Resnais creates a sublime, unforgettable classic.
    Carlos M Super Reviewer
  • Sep 12, 2012
    Bleak, moody and scarred, "Hiroshima Mon Amour" is a film of uncommon power that treads both the emotional trauma of love and the ravages of war. Amid post-war Hiroshima, the film has maintained a deeply soulful dialogue between two lost people desperately trying to feel, to fall in love overnight, and to understand. But this isn't "Before Sunrise" here. "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.
    Ivan D Super Reviewer
  • Apr 20, 2011
    Alain Resnais' Hiroshima, Mon Amour is a captivating cogitation on the power of memory. 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.
    Reid V Super Reviewer

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