Film Review: Hiroshima Mon Amour

By Eder Guzman

The Film Society at Lincoln center will be presenting “Hiroshima Mon Amour” for the first time in the United States, since its initial release in 1959. This is Alain Resnais film debut, who tragically passed March 1st at the age of 91. It is unfortunate that we had to wait this long (due to a rights issue) to see it on the big screen.

There is a sense of history provided by newsreel footage, and voice over narration by Elle (played by Emmanuelle Riva) and Lui (played by Eiji Okada). The screenplay was written by Marguerite Duras, who has written about European-Asian relationships in the past. They reminisce about the aftermath of Hiroshima, and how the memory of the war serves each other in their own manner. “You saw nothing, nothing at all” is what Lui tells her while she relays her visit to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. All that Elle saw was reconstructions, explanations, and nothing else. They are both happily married people who give in to a 48 hour love affair, and dwell on the repercussions of war in between sessions of love making.

She is in Japan working on a movie about peace, and she is having second thoughts about leaving. Lui convinces her to see him again on the night before her departure, and they meet again and again, all over the city of Hiroshima. The city is wonderfully lit up at night, even Elle comments on it.She cannot cease having flashbacks of the cellar she was held in, yet decides against telling Lui her dark past that continually haunts her. Lui continuously pursues her and her memories, hoping she relents. She gives in and tells her how she came about leaving her hometown, Nevers. Through the movie we are given images of a dead soldier on the ground, an empty balcony, a crowd of people surrounding her, and just like Lui, we are lost.

Locked in an embrace, he tells her the whole tale, of her lover being a German soldier in occupied France, of her affair being found out by the townspeople who decide to shun her, and how she believes her life to have ended when his did. All of her memories of the incident occur in daylight, will her reminiscing occur after nightfall, where even the audience feels an intimacy with the story. Lui is the first person she has ever told this story to, and he is grateful to her for having confided in him.

She tells him that she had gone mad, so she was locked in the cellar, until a rubber ball fell in and “made her sane” again. As she goes back to her hotel room, we see that she is not well, and Lui sees that she will never get over that ordeal. The movie ends with her in a teary fit, and Lui can only be a witness to it.

 

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