After spending 10 years making documentary shorts which were distinguished by their boldly experimental editing--including the landmark NIGHT AND FOG (1955), about Nazi concentration camps--Alain Resnais made the extraordinary HIROSHIMA MON AMOUR, which was originally intended to be a
documentary about the reconstruction of Hiroshima, but evolved into being his first feature-film.
A French actress (Emmanuelle Riva) making an anti-war film in Hiroshima, meets a Japanese architect (Eiji Okada) and takes him back to her hotel room, where they make love. The next evening, they have a rendezvous at his house. He notes that his wife is away; she, too, admits that she is married.
After they make love they go to a riverside tea room, where she recalls her tragic first love affair in her hometown of Nevers, France: he was a German soldier who was later killed. She subsequently had her head shaved by the townspeople, and went mad when her shamed parents locked her in a
cellar. During her remembrances of these events, she gets hysterical, and the architect has to slap her. With only a few hours to go before her flight home, they separate but end up being drawn to each other once more as she wanders through the city with the architect following her.
Any normal synopsis of HIROSHIMA MON AMOUR is useless since the entire film is an abstract exercise in non-linear narrative, blending montage, rapid-cutting, dissolves, flashbacks, and sensuous tracking shots, with interior monologues, voice-over and music, to create a stunningly powerful and
poetic evocation of time and memory. All of Resnais's films deal with these concepts, but HIROSHIMA MON AMOUR also concerns the importance and the necessity of forgetting painful and traumatic events in order to go on living. In her film debut, Emmanuelle Riva is superb as the woman, subtly
suggesting the character's mysterious past and emotional instability. In its masterly, and sometimes revolutionary, use of editing and camerawork, melded with a metaphorical story and spare, poetic dialogue by novelist Marguerite Duras, HIROSHIMA MON AMOUR remains one of the greatest and most
auspicious feature-film debuts in the history of cinema.
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- Review: After spending 10 years making documentary shorts which were distinguished by their boldly experimental editing--including the landmark NIGHT AND FOG (1955), about Nazi concentration camps--Alain Resnais made the extraordinary HIROSHIMA MON AMOUR, which wa… (more)