Hiroshima mon amour

"Extraordinary"

Hiroshima mon amour Review


Made in 1959 by Alain Resnais, Hiroshima mon amour -- along with The 400 Blows and Breathless -- is one of the most significant films of what become known as the French New Wave.

On the surface the film has a straightforward plot. A French actress Elle (Emmanuelle Riva) is staying in Hiroshima for a few days shooting a movie about peace. There she meets a Japanese architect named Lui (Eiji Okada) with whom she has a one night stand. Despite the fact that both of them are married they find themselves falling love with one another.

In a short time Elle shreds her usual romantic indifference and begins to recall the tragedy of her lost first love with a German soldier during the occupation of France in World War II. In minute detail she recalls the joy and then pain of that love. And over the course of two days she falls in love with her interlocutor.

This would seem a bit trite if it weren't so provocative and beautiful in its construction The film's simplicity is belied by the fact that it compares and contrasts the tragedy of Hiroshima with the tragedy of young love. On the surface, the idea that the suffering of a young woman whose lover has died can be compared to the tragedy of 200,000 deaths is a bit of a stretch, to be sure. But Resnais and screenwriter Marguerite Duras never explicitly compare the two. Instead they explore the nature of forgetting and remembering with regard to human emotions.

The beauty and power of the film comes primarily from the editing, which from the film's first cut, is both brilliant and evocative. In the first 15 minutes Resnais uses a poetic, elliptical editing structure that shuffles black and white images of amorous close-ups, newsreel footage, and reconstructed war footage together to draw us into the theme of memory. After that the editing slows a bit and draws us into the budding romance while still juxtaposing the past and the present in fascinating ways.

The film posits the very simple question, "How can we forget tragedy?" Yet it never directly answers that question so much as skirts the issue and lets the audience decide for themselves the beauty, horror, and reflection of memory.

Hiroshima mon amour also deals with contrasts and opposites such as love and death, war and peace, living and remembering, as well as dealing with two people from different parts of the world: one from France and one from Japan (both of whom in a post-WWII world would have been viewed differently than today). The title too -- Hiroshima mon amour -- is an oxymoron. It refers both to the most atrocious bombing of the 20th century and to that of the nature of personal love.

Both of the characters in the movie have been described by many critics as being symbolic characters who fit into the film's bigger message. But Emmanuelle Riva, in her first starring role, gives such an amazing performance with such delicate and compelling moments that to write her off as being merely symbolic is at best inappropriate. Eiji Okada too gives an effective performance albeit as a more strong and silent type.

Technical credits include an alluring yet poignant musical score by Georges Delarue and amazing silky black and white cinematography by Sacha Vierney both of which lend much to the film's overall design.

The Criterion Collection DVD looks fabulous and has a remarkable audio commentary by Peter Cowie who is, as always, insightful, scholarly, and engaging from start to finish. There are also two interviews with Alain Resnais and two interviews with Emmanuelle Riva - one vintage and one current. The other notable extra on the DVD are excerpts from Marguerite Duras' annotations to the screenplay. On the inside cover is a 12 page booklet with a couple of essays and a discussion of the film by some members of the French New Wave.



Hiroshima mon amour

Facts and Figures

Run time: 90 mins

In Theaters: Monday 16th May 1960

Box Office USA: $83.3k

Distributed by: Rialto Pictures

Production compaines: Argos

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 100%
Fresh: 24

IMDB: 7.9 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Lui, Stella Dassas as Mother, Pierre Barbaud as Father, as German Lover, as Elle

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Tom of Finland Movie Review

Tom of Finland Movie Review

Finnish artist Tuoko Laaksonen used the name "Tom of Finland" as he drew explicit illustrations...

A Ghost Story Movie Review

A Ghost Story Movie Review

Filmmaker David Lowery reunites the stars from his offbeat Western Ain't Them Bodies Saints for...

Atomic Blonde Movie Review

Atomic Blonde Movie Review

From the co-director of John Wick, this similarly styled action romp puts Charlize Theron front...

Girls Trip Movie Review

Girls Trip Movie Review

This movie's premise basically sounds like The Hangover with added black girl power. But it's...

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Movie Review

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Movie Review

There's so much manic energy in this animated action comedy that it can't help but...

The Big Sick Movie Review

The Big Sick Movie Review

It may be rather long for a romantic comedy, but this film has such a...

The Emoji Movie Movie Review

The Emoji Movie Movie Review

There's no reason why this animated comedy adventure needed to be this pointless. Solidly entertaining...

Advertisement
England Is Mine Movie Review

England Is Mine Movie Review

While this is billed as a film about The Smiths' singer-songwriter Morrissey, it's actually an...

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets Movie Review

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets Movie Review

It's been 20 years since French filmmaker Luc Besson shook up the sci-fi genre with...

Dunkirk Movie Review

Dunkirk Movie Review

Britain's epic 1940 evacuation of Dunkirk has been dramatised on film before, but no one...

Killing Ground Movie Review

Killing Ground Movie Review

From Australia, this dark and edgy thriller is skilfully made by writer-director Damien Power to...

City of Ghosts Movie Review

City of Ghosts Movie Review

This award-winning documentary plays like a thriller as it traces the work of a group...

Cars 3 Movie Review

Cars 3 Movie Review

It's been six years since the last Cars movie (there were two Planes movies in...

The Beguiled Movie Review

The Beguiled Movie Review

In her inimitable loose style, Sofia Coppola remakes the 1971 Clint Eastwood movie from a...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.