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French New Wave cinema was perhaps the best genre of film, and Hiroshima Mon Amour was one of the better movies of that genre. It is more realistic and grittier than previous French films of even a few years earlier. Here is a story of a love affair that basically lasts two nights, with the audience learning about a troubled woman's past, one she hasn't disclosed to anyone until she meets her Japanese lover. It is deep and enchanting. The romance is a hanger for the flashbacks to unfold, otherwise the French woman would be talking to herself the whole time (in real life, a sane man would run as fast as he could from a woman he'd just met who had so much "baggage," I'd imagine). The film looks beautiful and the performances are excellent. Both Emmanuelle Riva and Eiji Okada really "sell it." I also enjoyed all the shots of post-War Hiroshima and seeing the characters standing in the exacts spots I have.
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.
Those beautiful words that get into your skin! Powerfully written, beautifully acted and visually astonishing. A tale on memory and forgetfulness that involves feelings of lost love and inner solitude.
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.
A trully magnificent work of art, Hiroshima Mon Amour's nostalgic air is carried throughout the film making the viewer ponder about love and the unrealistic sharade we sometimes unwillingly fall into when we pretend to have found love in a stranger.
Magnificent and haunting French movie. Stunning soul-examination which at times reaches even subconscious level, tremendous character study - and all this is done in under 90 mins. It has obvious resemblance with his next work "Marienbad" where he goes yet deeper into the mystique of human memory. In this movie a French woman finds herself in a city of disaster, Hiroshima, recounting her own disaster occurred during WW2 which left deep scars in her soul. Her Japanese lover goes with her into the past and tries to help her to reconcile her with her past self. The film is shot in a unique manner as though you witness her memory at work as different memories are triggered by different visions in real life.
The first 20 minutes is one of the most arresting sequences in cinema. It sets a tempo that the film rarely strays from in examining personal and social tragedy.
A difficult film to watch as you see two tragedies unfold. The effects of the A-bomb being dropped on Hiroshima and the relationship between the actress and the architect. The film itself seems open to many interpretations from trendy to relationships. What i have interpreted is there equal footing between personal tragedy and worldwide? In the midst of a worldwide tragedy, does our own suffering hold weight? In a world that is constantly grieving, when can we have our time to grieve personal loss?
Hiroshima mon amour is another French New Wave movie that is solid, but immensely overrated. It has its merits including the acting and especially the cinematography which is fantastic, but the film is so boring, so pretentious in its direction and approach and featuring characters for whom I did not care about and the conversations that were mostly quite dull.
Poetic movies are always threatened to be laughable and silly. This one is an exception. A rare gem. Truly magnificent work of art and poetry.