Some Issues to Consider While Watching Hiroshima Mon Amour (1959)

Film summary from the DVD liner notes: "A cornerstone of the French New Wave, the first feature from Alain Resnais is one of the most influential films of all time. A French actress (Emmanuelle Riva) and a Japanese architect (Eiji Okada) engage in a brief, intense love affair in postwar Hiroshima, their consuming mutual fascination impelling them to exorcise their own scarred memories of love and suffering. With an innovative flashback structure and an Academy Award--nominated screenplay by novelist Marguerite Duras, Hiroshima mon amour [sic] is a moody masterwork that delicately weaves past and present, personal pain and public anguish."

The 1959 film is Alain Resnais's first feature film. He developed his interest in film when, as a 14 year old, he received an 8 mm camera as a present, then as a young adult began producing and directing short documentaries. Night and Fog--his 1955 documentary about the holocaust depicting, among other scenes, the Allied forces liberation and dismantling of German concentration camps--brought him international acclaim and initiated his long and successful career as a member of the French New Wave movement. [Summarized from the Turner Classic Movies introduction to the film.]

Warning: While I usually do not support the idea of "trigger warnings," especially when they involve the potential for "micro-aggressions," I feel it necesary to prepare you for some of the images in the opening scenes of Hiroshima Mon Amour. Just as Resnais incorporates newsreel footage of what the Allied troops found upon entering concentration camps in Night and Fog, he incorporates rather gruesome documentary footage of the aftermath of the bombing of Hiroshima into the film that we will watch. These images are necessary to the point of the film and, fortunately, do not recur after the opening scenes. However, it is difficult not to weep while seeing them.

Here are a few things to consider while viewing the film: