Hiroshima Mon Amour


Hiroshima Mon Amour (1959) is a dramatic romance directed by Alain Resnais and written by Marguerite Duras. It is set on World War II Hiroshima after the fatal atomic bombing that took away millions of lives in Japan. The movie begins with pictures of the war, most specifically the remnants of the Hiroshima bombing, along with the discourse between the two main characters playing on the background. The woman ( Emmanuele Riva) tells the man that she had seen the war and its effects on people. The man (Eiji Okuda) refutes her and tells her that she has not seen anything at all. After a night together, both characters fall in love with each other. The man persuades the woman that to stay in Japan yet, their pasts come before them, making it hard for them to be together.

For someone who is used to linear films with a beginning-climax-end pattern, Hiroshima Mon Amour may prove to be a strange and unfathomable film. It focuses only on the two characters, a French actress and a Japanese man, and their carnal encounters as they face the demons of their pasts. It works on a very slow pace, often leaving the viewers puzzled and wondering what is really going on. Moreover, the two characters converse in such an unusual way as the woman tries to relate her personal experiences and her fears of facing these experiences.

The film’s central theme is about memory and the pain that comes along with remembrance. The contrast between Nevers and Hiroshima tried to show the important role of our experiences and how these experiences comprise our identity. It tries to impress to us that the sum of all the events in our past is actually our totality. Simply put, pulling away any one of the incidents of the past will have a great impact on who we are in the present. Forgetting may be convenient for us because it takes away the pain and sorrow that we have to face but it is also dangerous because it takes away a part of us – the part that really matters, that which makes us human. Every memory, may it be private or public, is significant. Take for example Hiroshima; forgetting what happened in Hiroshima may also lead us to forgetting the ability of men to commit such atrocity, which in turn may result to a similar situation happening again. On the woman’s case, forgetting Nevers may take away all of the lessons that she had learned from the agony that she suffered from her first love and first heartbreak.

The beautifully crafted conversation between the two characters makes the viewer grieve for the woman as the message subtly creeps to them that whatever pain falls upon us, whatever misfortune we encounter, we will eventually move on and start a new beginning. The film tried to deliver this message when it portrayed the budding of a new plant from the ashes of the war. It signified a new life, a new beginning that may equally reachable for us if we only learn to come to terms with the past.

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