Hiroshima Mon Amour, Blu-ray (1959/2015)

by | Jul 10, 2015 | DVD & Blu-ray Video Reviews

Hiroshima Mon Amour, Blu-ray (1959/2015)

Director: Alain Resnais
Cast: Emmanuelle Riva, Eiji Okada
Script: Marguerite Duras
Video: 1.37:1 B&W 1080p
Audio: French PCM mono
Subtitles: English
Studio: Argos Films/ Janus Films/ The Criterion Collection 196 (7/14/15)
Extras: Commentary track by film historian Peter Cowie, 1961 & 1980 interviews with Resnais, 1959 & 2003 interviews with Emmanuelle Riva, Interview with film scholar Francois Thomas, Interview with music scholar Tim Page about the score, “Revoir Hiroshima”, 2013 video on film’s restoration. Printed B&W booklet with excerpts from roundtable discussion of the film & essay by critic Kent Jones
Length: 90 min.
Rating: ****1/2

This influential film was one of the cornerstones of the French New Wave. Resnais is felt to be a cubist on the screen; certainly what he does with time has changed the filmic language in many of the following films by others. Although we may want to, we are never shown the first meeting of the French actress working (on a film) briefly in Hiroshima and the Japanese architect with whom she has an intense relationship. Both are married, but each has their own terrible memories of love and suffering.

Hers seem to be the worst: her first love was a German soldier who was killed at the end of WWII, dying slowly in her arms. Her hair was shorn and she was relegated to a cellar prison afterwards. The film was more daring in the 1960s than it is today, with every viewer thinking what the U.S. did in Hiroshima, and the strong feelings of some of the public against “mixed” relationships like this, let alone adultery. Okada is amazing – he spoke no French at all and had to learn all his lines phonetically (as Lotte Lenya had to learn English for the stage).

There are many shots of the musum of the bomb drop in Hiroshima, and the film – like most of Resnais’ films after this, certainly benefitted from the terrific script by Marguerite Duras.  The anguish of the past, present and future seem be part of all Resnais’ films, and partly is responsible for the jumping around in the editing. (He refused to use the term “flashback.”) There is a compelling unity of opposites, and the score by Giovanni Fusco beautifully supports the images. A super classic.

—John Sunier

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