A French young woman has spent the night with a Japanese man, at Hiroshima where she went for the shooting of a film about peace.
DIRECTOR / WRITER
Emmanuelle Riva, Eiji Okada, Stella Dassas, Bernard Fresson, Pierre Barbaud
Marguerite Duras (screenplay) 1914-1996, born near Saigon, French Indochina (now Vietnam).
"The film plods"
-- Variety, review from 1959
"A cornerstone film of the French New Wave, Alain Resnais’ first feature is one of the most influential films of all time. A French actress (Emmanuelle Riva) and a Japanese architect (Eiji Okada) engage in a brief, intense affair in postwar Hiroshima, their consuming fascination impelling them to exorcise their own scarred memories of love and suffering. Utilizing an innovative flashback structure and an Academy Award-nominated screenplay by novelist Marguerite Duras, Resnais delicately weaves past and present, personal pain and public anguish, in this moody masterwork"...
"It’s difficult to quantify the breadth of Hiroshima’s impact. It remains one of the most influential films in the short history of the medium, first of all because it liberated moviemakers from linear construction."
-- Kent Jones, The Criterion Collection
New Wave filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard described the film's inventiveness as "Faulkner plus Stravinsky" and celebrated its originality, calling it "the first film without any cinematic references". This film greatly influenced Godard's 'Pierrot le Fou'.
- The exquisite agony of an impossible love, that cannot be, and if it cannot be, it cannot lessoned. If their romance was to make practical sense, it would reduce the passion. It’s this duality that drives their love. Something is perfect because it is impossible - a powerful idea for film.
- The horror of not understanding, and looking for a reason to remember (towards the end of the 1st act). She needs to repeat the whole horrible experience, with an almost masochistic will.
I watched this film at the Classic European Film Festival in Sydney. Notes I jotted down during discussion:
- Before the film Breathless, this film is generally excepted to be the first new wave film.
- There was a lot of debate going on at the time with regards to French cinema and French new wave.
- This film breaks away from the excepted forms of literary narrative.
- The film was almost a kiss of death to auteur movement – by bringing in a novelist.
- This film is a meditation with the interior. In fact it is not a favourite of the general public. One commentator confessed that in order to clean out parties, he puts this on and the B-side of Yoko Ono and John Lennon.
- The film begins with close ups of flesh, no faces, just voiceovers. Who does this flesh belong to? Who are these fingers?
- The film progresses to seeing Hiroshima in almost documentary format, continuing with no sync sounds, just images and voice over, over the most beautiful, shocking images I've ever seen on the silver screen. It sets up the film as something exciting and thrilling. This continues for 15 minutes. Overall this would have been challenging for the filmmaker, but it was executed successfully. Makes and exciting first 15 min that goes against conventions of act 1 screenwriting.
- The images put forward could be related to the characters, OR they are the memory itself. It looks at what we choose to remember, or choose not to remember.
- Impressive visual style though out. Ultra realism, and then surrealism – like Jean Renoir.
- Incredible, real dialogue: “staying is almost as impossible as leaving".
- The characters are defined by Hiroshima, and by Nevers. Those moments define.
- The film has an almost Casablanca feel to it, but more poetic and emotional.
- Resnais was among the Post WWII directors, who only had access to foreign films when the war finished. Then, he got a decade of films all at once.
- The question is: is this a love story or documentary? In 1955-56 Resnais created the documentary film Night and Fog. A documentary was visited the territory and he was scared of repeating himself with a similar documentary.
- Resnais simply has a HUGE filmography in French new wave cinema, but he was an outsider. In Paris at the time, other film-makers used to swap ideas and work on each others screenplays. Resnais was not an insider, but there are a lot of thematic similarities.
- I love the font at the beginning.