The Film (5/5)
Alain Resnais had been making films for over 20 years when he finally came to international attention as a director of narrative cinema with Hiroshima mon Amour. Prior to this film Resnais directed the documentary short Night and Fog which also made waves, but this film alongside possibly Louis Malle's Elevator to the Gallows came to be the match that lit the fuse of the French New Wave filmmakers who would change the face of international cinema over the next decade.
The film follows 2 characters She(Emmanuelle Riva) and He(Eiji Okada). They meet in Hiroshima, while She is working on a film project in the city, and have a brief 36 hour love affair. The two contemplate their whereabouts, and the effect of the destruction of Hiroshima by the atomic bomb on their respective lives. Before inevitably separating, and going back to their existence.
Hiroshima mon Amour is a film that has to be experienced. The film is not a straightforward narrative, as the director frequently uses flashbacks, and documentary footage to convey his message about the dual nature of mankind, and how those in the dark can come back into the light. Hiroshima mon Amour started out as a documentary project by Resnais, but as he began work he realized that the project was too similar to his earlier concentration camp documentary Night and Fog. He then suggested expanding the film into a narrative feature, and brought upon avant garde filmmaker Marguerite Duras to write the screenplay. Much like Resnais’ later Last Year at Marienbad, the stylistic quirks of the screenwriter tend to cross into the film itself. Marienbad’s Robbe-Grillet screenplay, brought in elements that Robbe-Grillet himself would end up utilizing in his own features. Duras' screenplay helps to give the film a structure that is far from traditional (at least for the time), and also adds elements of repetition that her own films would present.
The screenplay paired with the images by Resnais and the 2 cinematographers on the project Michio Takahashi and Sacha Verney help to create stark, beautfiul images even when paired with those of the death and destruction of Hiroshima (the documentary footage was taken from the film Children of Hiroshima). The editing of the film helps to create an almost musical rhythm for the feature, that lulls the viewer into a near cinematic dream state, where images of lust and love, are utilized alongside those of stark real horror.
Hiroshima mon Amour is presented by Criterion in a spectacular 1:78:1 1080p AVC encoded transfer. The transfer is quite good with excellent detail throughout, fantastic contrast, and a solid grain structure present. The film incorporates documentary footage into it's runtime, and those source look a bit rougher, with damage from the source material present throughout.
The audio is presented with a LPCM mono track in French. The track works quite well with score and dialogue coming through nicely.
Criterion's Blu-ray of Hiroshima mon Amour comes packed with extras from archival and new interviews and featurettes, to a commentary track, and of course a booklet with liner notes on the film.
Hiroshima mon Amour is the film that really put Alain Resnais on the map. The Blu-ray looks and sounds fantastic, and the extras are elaborate and informative. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.