Hiroshima, Mon Amour

Movie Information

Score:

Genre: Drama
Director: Alain Resnais
Starring: Emmanuelle Riva, Eiji Okada, Stella Dassas, Pierre Barbaud, Bernard Fresson
Rated: NR

To appreciate the fuss and fury that greeted Alain Resnais’ Hiroshima, Mon Amour on its first appearance, it’s necessary to get into a kind of 1959 mindset. In particular, the 1959 mindset of the Cahiers du Cinema group, who were looking for new type of film. They found it with Resnais’ movie, which virtually defined the French New Wave.

Though the New Wave — much like the British Invasion style that followed it — didn’t so much invent a cinematic language as it co-opted bits and pieces from everyone from Melies to Michael Powell, it was a unique mix of styles filtered into a style of its own (and subsequently assimilated into mainstream film language). It felt new, fresh — and, yes, revolutionary.

And it’s pretty much all here in this one film: the deceptively simple story of a brief encounter between a French actress (Emmanuelle Riva) on location in Hiroshima and a Japanese architect (Eiji Okada). And it all — as technique — still seems reasonably fresh, if no longer startlingly so.

Unfortunately, Hiroshima is also the quintessential French art film, with everything that implies, meaning that every parody of pretentious French cinema (you know: where two characters say “oui” and “non” and nothing else for minutes on end) also stems from this movie. As a result, the film’s drama constantly threatens to elicit laughs instead of tears, and so requires a little patience. But it’s worth the effort. There are haunting images here amidst the pretense.

As a milestone of film, Hiroshima, Mon Amour cannot be overestimated.

— reviewed by Ken Hanke

SHARE
About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress since December 2000. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.