‘Hiroshima Mon Amour’ (Hiroshima, My Love) - 1959 | Director: Alain Resnais
Alain Resnais was 36 when he started his first feature, a directorial landmark. A story about a young Japanese architect (Eiji Okada) and a French actress (Emmanuelle Riva). Both are married, meet in Hiroshima by chance and embark on a brief affair. They are referred to throughout as ‘he’ and ‘she’. He is Japanese and she is French. The film is essentially a series of conversations. Their time together triggers fragmented memories of sexual desire, war and death. By the culmination of the film, we understand that the two lovers are figurative representations of their differing cultures. She embodies the French town, Nevers and he is Hiroshima, Japan. Two nations that were devastated during World War II.
The repetition of dialogue, voice over narration and continual flashbacks lends the scenes a hypnotic quality. There are scenes of documented horror which challenge us and are then contrasted with ones of poetic beauty. It’s heavy going and every time I watch this remarkable film, it emotionally drains me. Hauntingly beautiful, carrying important themes of peace and bearing witness to past societal pain.
“I have time. I beg you. Devour me. Deform me, make me ugly. Why not you? Why not you, in this city and on this night, so indistinguishable from any other? I beg you.”