Hiroshima Mon Amour

In my film, time is shattered‘, says Resnais of his first full-length fictional film Hiroshima Mon Amour. I don’t think this statement is as true of this film as it is of Last year at Marienbad (where time seems to explode and be everywhere), but time does fold on itself in this poignant film of memory, loss, war and love.
A French woman is shooting for a film in Hiroshima, and a day before returning to Paris she meets a Japanese man in a cafe, whom she spends the night with. An intense affair develops, and in this intense love, the woman is transported to her first love – a German soldier whom she had met during German occupation of France. On the night of French liberation, the soldier was killed in her presence and his death and loss of love continued to haunt her. She was disgraced in her town (Nevers) for consorting with the enemy, and spent days locked in the cellar in a state of mental fever. In a while, she remembered only the pain and spent life in short, meaningless affairs – until, on meeting this man in Hiroshima she feels the intensity of love and is horrified at the thought of finally forgetting her first lover.
The horror of forgetting seems the central theme of the film. The necessity to remember disasters like the loss of love or bombing of a city, to keep it alive forever, are pictured both in the personal trauma and the scenes of horror from Hiroshima. Both disasters intermingle to make the trauma of Hiroshima very personal; it is no longer so distant as the destruction of a city. She cannot take a new lover, because it would mean that she could forget love and thus would also be able to forget this new love. And how could you forget love, forget Hiroshima, and move on?
There is something so beautiful and sad about Resnais’ movie in its clear black and white imagery. The impossibility of love and the burden of guilt is reflected in the still shots above. The manner in which the flashbacks become a part of the current conversation, and in the way the two lovers juxtapose is haunting, and yet something felt often on dreamy mornings when worlds intersect, and for while you do not know which is which.
It was so fascinating to hear the conversation of the lovers – I am looking now for the screenplay(translated) of the movie written by Resnais and Duras.

One thought on “Hiroshima Mon Amour

  1. I first saw this film in 1980 during a film appreciation camp. Later when I was the president of Cochin Film society, I had the opportunity to screen it twice. Now I own a DVD copy. A masterpiece indeed…PGR


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