Thursday, January 4, 2007

Hiroshima, Mon Amour - Alain Resnais (1959)

I don't know where to start with this film, so I'll go with the score. Very moving. Hypnotic film, and the score always seems to complement perfectly the images on screen. Although not as pointed in its use of "music as punctuation" as say, In the Mood For Love, still similar in effect.

The visuals are dazzling, so I need to include one or two as a point of reference, before moving on. The meat of this entry starts here:

The opening scene has the couple wrapped up in a human knot of arms and sweaty backs, and we only hear the voice of Emmanuelle Riva, as she recounts an experience with Hiroshima. We wonder, is it her experience? Is it his? The film is notable for its interplay between the now and the past, for its mingling of identities. Here in the picture, the two have become untangled for a moment.

Here is an image from one of the most beautiful sequences in the movie. The two continue to hash out their stories, and while they do it, Emmanuelle Riva is chugging beer as if it were some sort of life-potion. Behind them, the lights of the city glance off the water, creating a shimmering display through the restaurant window. Of course, they are too wrapped up in each other to notice it, but we do.

Throughout the film, actually, I was reminded of a pair of films we've talked about recently, Before Sunrise and Before Sunset. Two strangers of different nationalities meeting and having this moment together, intense and cathartic. Celine and Jesse will have two moments, this couple will only have one. In Hiroshima, Mon Amour, the difference in nationality plays out more, as the two talk about their experiences in the war. Riva fell in love with a German soldier and upon discovery, was ostracized by her own parents, and locked in a cellar. Eiji Okada lost his family in Hiroshima while off fighting. The two talk to each other not just in romantic terms, but in terms of filling these holes from the past. When Riva and Okada make love, they are making love in the empty spaces of these holes, the rifts between nations and between persons torn apart by war. And they are also making love TO the holes, to the pain and suffering they have experienced and cannot separate themselves from. It is a painful thing to watch, but it is beautiful as well. Beauty contained within the ugliness. That's how I would describe Hiroshima, Mon Amour.

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