A cornerstone of French cinema, Alain Resnais' first feature is one of the most influential films of all time. A French actress (Emmanuelle Riva) and a Japanese architect (Eiji Okada) engage in a brief, intense affair in p... more »ostwar Hiroshima, their consuming fascination impelling them to exorcise their own scarred memories of love and suffering. Utilizing an innovative flashback structure and an Academy Award®-nominated screenplay by novelist Marguerite Duras, Resnais delicately weaves past and present, personal pain and public anguish, in this moody masterwork.« less
Bryan A. Pfleeger | Metairie, Louisiana United States | 10/02/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Hiroshima mon amour is a unique film. This is the grafting of cinema technique with literature. In a unique collaboration between director Alain Resnais and novelist Margaurite Duras one of the truly landmark films of the 20th Century was born.This is a story about beginnings and endings about rebirth following tragedy. Moreover this is a story about memory. Fifteen years after the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima a film crew arrives to make a film about peace. The actress in this film meets and has an intense affair with a Japanese man she meets in a bar on the night before she is to return to France.In a startling series of flashbacks we learn of her love for a German soldier that left her ostracized in her native Nevers, France. The story, which all takes place in a twenty four hour period is striking because of its emotional impact. The atomic bomb destroyed Hiroshima and the WWII romance destroyed the womans life. Now is the time to grow and to be reborn. Rebirth takes place through a confrontation with our memories of the past. A facing of the things that made us what we are. This is the sense the viewer takes from this film.The Criterion DVD has an excellent transfer of the print which is presented in its original monural sound. The extras on the disc deserve a look. There is an excellent commentary by film historian Peter Cowie that helps to explain the marriage of film and literature between Resnais and Duras while offering some anecdotal technical information. Also included are vintage interviews with Alain Resnais and star Emmanuelle Reve. A 2003 interview with Reve is a highlight of the disc and should not be missed. The annotated selections of the script are also worth a brief look.Anyone interested in the history of film should do themselves a favor and view this important film classic."
A remarkable depiction of remembering and forgetting
Kari Sullivan | Austin, TX | 12/20/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Hiroshima, Mon Amour is the screenplay for the classic French film directed by Alain Resnais. This is one of the few screenplays I truly enjoy, as Hiroshima is a wonderful story about remembering and forgetting set in the context of post-nuclear war and love. True to the classic stream-of-consciousness style of Duras, this screenplay is a highly emotional account of a French woman's journey to Hiroshima to film an anti-war movie and the affair with a Japanese man that ensues. Throughout the course of the affair, the woman is struck with the memory of her German lover during WWII and the insanity that his death brought on. In many ways, this is Duras at her finest. She has an uncanny ability to take specific stories and bring them to a level of universality as far as human emotion and circumstance are concerned. This is a powerful and riveting tale that is not to be missed."
A couragious and honest exploration of love
C. Colt | San Francisco, CA United States | 06/08/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"As with most works of art that probe a subtle truth, "Hiroshima Mon Amour" will confuse a lot of people. On the surface, this film appears to be strange glimpse of failed romance and anti-social behavior. The characters, an unidentified French woman and Japanese man are having a brief and transitory love affair in Hiroshima, many years after World War II. Both of them are married (the man professes to love his wife) and neither is a stranger to anonymous love affairs. Although neither party knows the other's name, they share crucial aspects of their history and identity with each other. The man is a resident of Hiroshima who was away serving in the army when the city was bombed. During the war, the woman lived in an occupied French city called Nevers and fell in love with a German soldier. When the soldier was killed the woman was punished for being a collaborator and was subsequently banished to her parents' basement for several month where in her own words she became "mad with spite".The film opens by interweaving scenes of the man and woman making love, with scenes of Hiroshima bombing victims. This tells us that their story-particularly their love affair-is rooted in an act of unimaginable destruction. In the man's case, everything returns to the bombing of Hiroshima. When the woman tells him of the different monuments and documentary footage of the bombing she encountered, he replies that she has seen nothing. In the woman's case, her entire life was redefined the moment her German lover was killed by French partisans. The act of destruction was personally more traumatic and pivotal than the war itself. Worse yet was her tremendous sense of failure in surviving this event and being able to continue life without her lover. The man is inescapably a product of the bombing of Hiroshima just as the woman is a product of her experience in Nevers.The woman tells the man that until her affair with him, she has never loved anyone the way she loved the German soldier. She shares her sense of failure at having survived the death of the German solider with the man. The beginning of courtship and love often involves putting one's best foot forward, so to speak-of promoting oneself in order to appeal to the other person. But this film argues that the foundation of love is something more sacred and more sensible. It is often a person's deepest sense of failure, fear, or inadequacy that defines who that person really is. The woman attests to this by stating that her true sense of self began when she emerged from her eight months of confinement in her parents' basement. She tells the man that aside from him, no one including her husband understands that that experience made her who she is today. The Japanese man expresses great joy in being the only one in the world who knows. He comprehends the magnitude of her gift and its testament of her love for him.The love affair between the man and the woman is a doomed and paradoxical one. The woman gives herself to the man completely, but she can only do so because their relationship is free of any obligation to each other. They meet only for the purpose of loving each other under anonymous and temporary conditions. For them no other role is possible. At the end of the film, the loves part without revealing their names. The woman tells the man his name is "Hiroshima" and he replies, "Yes, and yours is Nevers. Nevers in France." In refusing to disclose their names, the lovers banish their public identities from the momentary world that they have created for themselves. A love affair is essentially the creation of a new world that is populated only by two people under specific conditions. Entirely new things become important. Streets, restaurants, and hotel rooms that would normally mean nothing suddenly take on an incalculable significance. In this case, Hiroshima is the place where their love affair takes place, which implies that the city is destroyed twice: first by the bombing and then by the end of the affair. Of course the film begins with the scenes of the lovers intertwined with scenes of the bombing. In the years to come, whenever the woman hears of Hiroshima she will immediately think of both. Like the love that defined who she was as a human being, this one too is rooted in unimaginable destruction.While the film is superb in its own right, one should really read the original screen play by Marguerite Duras since it sheds much light on the characters in the film. The screen play describes the Japanese man as having Western features and hardly looking like a typical Asian male. Duras purposely requested this so that viewers would not see the Japanese man as exotic or unusual. The Japanese is further described as being worldly in the sense that he is conversant in several languages and involved in politics. Duras states that he is the kind of man who would be at home in any country. Similarly the woman is described as being not very beautiful. In the film the man tells her that he was first interested in her because she looked bored. The attraction defies typical filmic clichés but makes sense is subtle ways.While this film may alienate many viewers, it will hopefully leave most with a deeper impression and with a series of questions. What does it really mean to love someone? What is the real definition of fidelity? What else does war destroy besides physical things such as people, materials, and the environment? What is trust? What defines a person's identity, success or failure?"
Remembrance, pain, and love.
Aizam Awang (Asegamss@Hotmail.com) | Stockton, CA | 03/31/1999
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Hiroshima, Mon amour is a film that explores the idea of memory: what is to forget, and what is to remember? What is experience and what is reconstruction? Do we have total control over these notions, and do we need to have control over them? With the Hiroshima bombing tragedy as the layout of the film, Resnais and Duras mock the European (and maybe the Japanese themselves through the museum and other memorial things that they built) understanding of what had really happen there. Universally, the story then focus on the conflict of understanding that the Riva character is suffering in when she gets herself involved with the Okada character, thus revealing her past to him as they both struggle into creating their definition of what love is. Is it enough to compare one's suffering to others' when their sufferings are more 'horrific' in nature? Not only that this film tries to answer this question but it also brings out lots of other questions on our common humanity. A complex and very intellectual film, but one should be warned (or should be aware of its implication from Resnais and Duras) of the passive nature of time from the Riva character's subjectivity too when watching the film."
Brilliant film on the illusion of never forgetting
Daniel J. Hamlow | Narita, Japan | 03/19/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"One of the prime examples of the French New Wave, a style of cinema that focused more on a personalized visual and experimental styles, with increased depths of feelings and exploration of themes, was Alain Resnais's debut effort, Hiroshima Mon Amour, which explored the effects of the atomic bomb and underscored the need to remember traumatic but profound memories for fear of them being repeated.There is a symbolic part in the movie of an arm enfolded over a body, all encrusted in frost. Soon, the frost turns to beads of water, which in turn is the sweat of two bodies together. Old passions reawoken, an intimate meeting of two cultures, and that depicts the love story between a French actress playing a nurse in a film on peace and a Japanese architect. Both, it turns out, are happily married, yet there's something wanting in the woman, and it all goes back to her traumatic past during the war, in her hometown of Nevers in Central France, Southeastish from Orleans, and situated on the Loire River. After a night in bed, the couple spend the remainder of the next day together. For the man, it's a desperate attempt to hold onto her, as she has to leave tomorrow for Paris. For the woman, it's an internal turmoil involving her past and her growing attraction to the man, to whom she confides in.But it's interesting to see the POV's of both. For the architect, Hiroshima became a part of history indelibly imbedded in the Japanese psyche. For the actress, Hiroshima meant "the end of war, the real end...[I was] stunned that they had dared, stunned that they succeeded, then the beginning of a new fear, followed by indifference, and also the fear of indifference." That is a source of bitterness to every Japanese, that the whole world rejoiced at the end of the war, including the actress.The initial half of the film is shot documentary style over the woman's narration, witnessing the legacy of Hiroshima fourteen years after the fact. For her, seeing the newsreel footage, the memorial sites built at detonation point, and the movies made of the victims, is being there. It is the footage from the films that is pretty grim, be it burns on people, peeling skin, closeups on deformed and scorched hands, many on children and infants, and bald patches on hair. "I felt the heat on Peace Square in Hiroshima. 10,000 degrees in Peace Square" she says, to which the architect's voice intones "No, you saw nothing in Hiroshima." He is more connected by the reality because he is Japanese, so how can she know, witness, or feel the concept of Hiroshima? She feels tied more by empathy, with the film she's making and her own experiences during the war.The testament to war and victimization is by her narration on why people are angry when they are deprived of their dignity and the necessities to survive: "It is the principle of inequality advanced by certain peoples against other people. By certain races against other races, by certain classes against other classes."Resnais tweaks the conventional linear narrative flow with one combining past, present, and future into one and using flashbacks reconciling time with memory. And some fluid camera shots panning down the Hiroshima concourses and streets are well executed. The actress's romantic past and newfound encounter mesh with her taking in the city: "Just as in love, there is the illusion that it can never be forgotten. So with Hiroshima, I had the illusion that I would never forget...just as in love." But can she forget the architect when she returns to her husband and children in France?Both leads, Emmanuelle Riva and Eiji Okada, carry this movie. Lyrical, moody, thoughtful, and with brilliant cinematography utilizing the darkness of the cafes and nighttime streets, and the whiteness of the actress's dress. Riva herself exhibits a forlorn, credulous, frail, and ultimately vulnerable woman in the actress, while Okada's architect is stolid, sardonic, but also at breaking point when it looks as if he's going to lose her.Despite the long-trod thought of "never again," the actress's thoughts paints a bleak future of mankind unless it gives up its warlike savage ways: "It will happen again. 200,000 dead. 80,000 wounded in 9 seconds. ...10,000 degrees on Earth, 10,000 suns on Earth. The asphalt will burn. Chaos will reign. A whole city will be lifted off the ground, then drift down in ashes.""