Thursday, June 7, 2007

Hiroshima Mon Amour (1959)

Directed by Alain Resnais. Starring Emmanuelle Riva and Eiji Okada.

The broad outlines of Resnais' visionary film sound trite- a French woman and a Japanese man conduct an affair against the backdrop of post-bomb Hiroshima- but the way the story plays out is anything but. As the film's lovers learn about each other, they also learn about each others' worlds, and each comes to identify the other through the great tragedy in the other's past. Most poignantly, the film flashes back to the woman's life in Nevers, France during and after the Occupation, when she had an affair with a German soldier and was then persecuted by the members of her community. Resnais, in collaboration with writer Marguerite Duras, has made a poetic and profoundly sad film about how people are the sum total of their pasts, and how the past imprisons us all.

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