Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Hiroshima Mon Amour


Dir: Alain Resnais (Night and Fog)

Wow. Wow. I am prone to hyperbole here on the BBE, but this movie is really something special. It cuts to the core of the human experience. Consistently it delivers universal insights that blossom from the indiosyncratic stories of extraordinary people in extraordinary situations. It is a poem on love, on death and mutilation, on loss and the flimsy stuff of memory, a tragic and beautiful testament to the power of what humans can do when they put their minds to it. It is a film about unspeakable evil and destruction, told thourgh a powerful love story. It is a moving experience, one of the very best movies I have ever seen.

Emmanuelle Rive plays a French actress who has an affair in Japan. She is filming an anti-war movie with Hiroshima as the backdrop. The film's opening montage is a brief moment of genius, juxtaposing the intertwined interracial lovers with reflections on the representation of the atomic bomb in post-war Japenese public memory. We will soon learn that these people from different worlds hold similar scars, the way that war and destruction rips apart your very identity. Death and deformity abound, and while we may try to preserve our happiness in interpersonal relationships, they too are fleeting and subject to the barriers of time, culture, and our separate bodies.

These are heavy themes, but the film is never leaden. The pace is brisk in terms of plot, but contemplative when telling the small stories that stand in for all of humanity. Really just a few conversations interspersed among shots of Hiroshima voiced over in poetry, the film is enigmatic and yet so focused.

If my descriptions have a strong "one the one hand, on the other" feel, it is a reflection of this nearly perfect movie. It does everything it attempts to well, and it attempts wildly different things. All of the parts are exemplary, making a whole that is even better. Its lines will haunt you, its imagery will stay with you, its story will move you, its acting will grip you, and its effect will change you.

BME. Loved it, loved it, loved it.



Blogger Jeremy noted on 7/19/2006 07:32:00 PM that...

What a coincidence, I just saw this as well, but wasn't as enamored by it. The first half hour or so is so great and compelling that there was little chance the second half could keep up. I hold the unpopular opinion that the entire tea room flashback scene is a drag. I guess this is just one of those "loved everything except the story" movies for me.

Fantastic blog, by the way.  

Blogger ronvon2 noted on 7/25/2006 09:53:00 AM that...

The late Pauline Kael was highly critical of this film; she argued that the over-the-top support it received from film critics/scholars exemplified the fetishistic and faux erudition of the profession (and other cinephiles). Her review is good for the larger argument, but she chose the wrong film to attack. But then again, she never saw a movie more than once.

Loved the film, need to revisit it.  

Blogger paroske noted on 7/28/2006 11:52:00 AM that...

So, if she picked the wrong film, then isn't the substance of her argument that any film that is overpraised is overpraised? Not that HMA is overpraised, you admit that; but that there are some films out there that are praised for the wrong reasons, and that is bad.

People like Hamlet way too much, because they fetishize the Danish. Well, maybe not Hamlet, but there are some plays out there that people only like because the Danes are super cool. Trust me.


Blogger ronvon2 noted on 7/28/2006 05:22:00 PM that...

Copenhagen, perhaps?

Well, a recent British study suggests that the Danes are the happiest people in the world. So, what was wrong with Hamlet?