Friday, 21 August 2009
hiroshima mon amour
Hiroshima Mon Amour was another film I studied in my French Cinema course as part of my degree in French.
Parts of it annoy me (like the woman's voice and her repetition of Nevers) but I straightaway recognised its significance, both culturally and cinematically.
Despite finding a few bits teeth-gnawing, it is undoubtedly an amazingly powerful and beautiful film.
This film from 1959 by aclaimed director, Alain Resnais, and screenwritten by Marguerite Dumas (who wrote L'amant - one of my favourite films) looks at the relationship between a French woman and a Japanese man and was one of the first films to use flashbacks as a story-telling tool.
Elle (she) plays an actress playing a nurse in post-war Hiroshima. She meets a Japanse architect, Lui (him), and both separated from their spouses they become lovers.
The early part of the film recounts the effects of the Hiroshima bomb, in particular, the loss of hair and anonymity of the remains of some of the victims. The film does this in a documentary style and the keeps the narrators unidentified.
The flashbacks are intercut with the lovers story in the present day, which takes place in hotels and restaurants in Hiroshima. Elle starts to tell, for the first time, her experiences during World War II in Nevers, France, where she was involved with a German soldier during the occupation.
Like many other women who associated with the enemy, she was made to suffer the humiliation of having her head shaven in public. By the time she left for Paris, and then Japan, her hair had regrown and her anonymity regained. Lui wants her to stay with him but she won't.
The film was a co-pro and it was stipulated by both Japanese and French production companies that one character must be French and one must be Japanese and that it should be shot in both countries.
Jean-Luc Godard called it the first film without any cinematic references. It's also been called the most important war film ever made.