Hiroshima, mon amour (1959)

February 16, 2007

Hiroshima, mon amour will certainly not be everyone’s cup of tea. It’s an extremely serious, nontraditional film – the type of challenging arthouse offering that one could conceivably see SNL spoofing (if it weren’t for the fact that it deals with such undeniably serious themes that such a spoof would be considered quite insensitive). The first 15 minutes of the film is essentially a visual lyric poem, with opaque, rhythmical dialogue voiced-over a montage of accompanying images of the bombing of Hiroshima. Many a Joe Somebody probably loses interest in this opening sequence and doesn’t even make it to where the film lapses into its narrative form, dealing with the story of a French actress visiting Hiroshima and having an affair with a Japanese man. hiroshima.jpgNot that the film becomes any less challenging at this point. Indeed, the couple’s relationship and their stilted conversations are heavy with symbolism representative of humanity’s post-WWII burden.

Comparing the film to poetry is appropriate, as the work seems very much like the verse of many modern poets – it’s either going to resonate with an individual or it’s not. Thus, while I can certainly understand why many people will rave about this film, I personally liked it, but wasn’t rolled over by it. I liked its basic concept, found many of the scenes to be quite touching, and thought it was well crafted overall. It just seemed to be operating on a slightly different aesthetic wavelength or something, as I suppose sometimes happens.

Perhaps its most accurate to say I liked the premise of the film and what it was trying to accomplish; I was just somewhat disappointed by the particulars of how it was executed. The film’s themes are certainly impressive, dealing with the catastrophic events one faces in life – whether in love or war – and that essential human need to forget and move on following such events. It’s not that simple, however, as there’s also an elemental need to remember those influences that shaped us, and it’s in this conflict between remembering and moving on that the man and woman now find themselves torn apart. The couple’s stories are obviously supposed to be syptomatic of larger historical and social trends, which perhaps explains why I thought the dialogue was a bit too abstract and impersonal. It seems as if the film removes some of the genuineness of their relationship in order to serve loftier artistic goals. And yet, even with that said, well done treatments of such themes are typically worth checking out. So while the film did not really strike the right chord with me, I know it has done so with others – thus if it sounds like the kind of film you typically enjoy, you should probably go ahead and give it a chance.


One Response to “Hiroshima, mon amour (1959)”

  1. gspence1173 Says:

    this trilogy rocks. I still think that “Red” is the best. Irene Jakob! (grrrrrwooooowwwl)

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