Monday, August 6, 2018

HIROSHIMA MON AMOUR (Alain Resnais, 1959, France/Japan)

Two desperate lovers become entwined and inseparable like twisted steel and melted concrete blocks, unforgettable remnants of Hiroshima’s explosive fate. Director Alain Resnais’ narrative is a complex design of flashbacks and gruesome stock footage of the Allied destruction, utilizing a female voice-over that is often contradicted. An eerie score irradiates the film, creating tension and a vague emotional unease between these disparate characters whose flesh has melded into one.

Lui is a Japanese architect who is married with a family but he has become suddenly obsessed with a French woman: an actress who has a small part in a documentary on Hiroshima. As she narrates the film’s beginning, she is subsumed by her role, speaking as if she were present during the droning doom of the Enola Gay but Lui keeps reminding her that she wasn’t. Resnais doesn’t spare the audience the horrible images and effects of war and does so without condemnation or acclamation...the judgment is ours alone. We soon learn that Lui’s parents were vaporized on that beautiful August day, and Elle begins to open up about her past in German occupied France.

This is an allegorical love story whose outcome is doomed to fail as she begins to unburden herself with the painful memories of the death of her true love: a Nazi soldier. After the Liberation, she is castigated and shaven, flung carelessly into a basement prison for her traitorous desires towards the enemy, though she only saw love and devotion towards this man. Lui’s obsession grows deeper like toxic roots drawing water from a poisoned well, and we wonder if he is willing to give up his family, and Elle hers. We experience her young life through flashbacks, and in one powerful jump cut we see Lui sleeping and his hand twitch, and for an instance we see a dead soldier’s bloody face and last trembling gasp. HIROSHIMA MON AMOUR is a love story that can only end in the dissolution of the nuclear family, its atomic power destructive and all consuming.


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