For Reel

Hiroshima Mon Amour (1959)
January 23, 2016, 7:15 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Alain Resnais
4.5 Stars
Hiroshima Mon AmourThe innovation of Hiroshima Mon Amour was met with both praise and bafflement when it was released in 1959. In a positive review for the New York Times, A.H. Weller reflected that it presents, “a baffling repetition of words and ideas, much like vaguely recurring dreams […]”, which reads as a criticism but actually succinctly gets to the core of the film’s remarkable power. To Alain Resnais, there is little need to segregate the real and the poetic or dreamlike, rather these contrasting modes of expression have a tendency to shift between one another, the lines that impose temporal and spatial order constantly blurred and drifting. It is the appropriate way to tell a story that involves a surplus of incongruities, the most literal of which being the French actress (Emmanuelle Riva) and the Japanese architect (Eiji Okada), each with their own ungraspable history of tragedy. Even if Hiroshima Mon Amour involves these two temporary lovers talking directly about their histories (even interfering in or negating each other’s memories), it nonetheless suggests a failure of comprehension not only between cultures, but in human romantic relationships. While I was initially offput by the juxtaposition of a real-life tragedy and the film’s dramatic action (in that the poetics could “cheapen” the real), the contrast ironically doesn’t work inflate the importance of the personal tragedy. In fact, these events truly are, in many ways, incomparable. However, in using both these forms of narrative expression, Resnais seeks to arrive at a more primal truth about how we deal with memory and, in particular, the absolute horror of forgetting.

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