Hiroshima Mon Amour (1960)
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Critic Reviews for Hiroshima Mon Amour
"Hiroshima Mon Amour" will always be too studied a masterwork for some tastes. But Riva's performance, chief among its triumphs, remains electrifying.
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.
The first film to juxtapose disastrous erotic passion with the political disasters of the mid century.
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.
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.
The film, a visual discovery that renewed the stagnation of so many directors of the time, was also about that relationship, combining it in a masterly way with political reflection, so that one could not exist without the other. [Full review in Spanish]
Audience Reviews for Hiroshima Mon Amour
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.
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.
A French actress shooting a film about peace in Hiroshima meets a Japanese man in a bar. They decide to go together. They fall in love. The woman describes to the man her past in France: her adolescence, her first love, her first loss, her madness. 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.
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