Monday, 15 December 2014


"A warless world will come as men develop warless hearts." - Charles Wesley Burns

A review of a classic 1959 film by Alain Resnais, Hiroshima,Mon Amour today. This is a film I have watched three times and enjoyed it immensely every time, was moved by it anew each time, was shocked and was forced to reassess my own soul each time, together with the film’s actors.

The year is 1959 and a young French actress has just spent a torrid night with a married Japanese architect. They are in Hiroshima, where she has been shooting an anti-war film. They find themselves embroiled in a white-hot passion and they are moved to disclosing their inner secrets to each other. She discloses to him her first love for a German soldier during the second world war in the French town of Nevers. The film is a love story, but it is not. It is an anti-war film, but it is not. It is a study of two people marked by tragedy, by loss, by disaster, but it is a hopeful document of renewal and rebirth.

The film relies on dialogue and images to reveal the souls of the two leads and the way in which their encounter changes them. The dialogue between the two lovers is also a conversation of their two pasts with each other. Each phrase exchanged between them is in juxtaposition with the mirrored images of their previous experiences. There is a rich interweaving of layers of images, symbols and metaphors. The growth of these two people is really revealing past destruction, the present peace they find themselves in is really an exposure of the recent war they have experienced, the love they are living through presently is really a sacrifice to the death they cheated in their past.

The script of the movie by Marguerite Duras is expressive, sensitive and revealing. There is poetry and great literary merit in it. Resnais has turned it into a magnificent film through his amazing direction and striking close-ups, the few locations used and his superb layering of images and scenes. The brilliance of the mise en scène is complemented by great acting, the masterly editing and the interweaving of past and present to create a powerful film.

The love story does not trivialise the tragedy of Hiroshima, but rather it makes it even more poignant and ultimately even more accessible on a personal level. The bombing of Hiroshima horrifies us and disgusts us, its significance on a world level makes us gasp with revulsion – on the other hand the personal tragedy of the two lovers makes us weep as our hearts are moved by their plight and as our hearts beat in sympathy with their own personal losses.

If you haven’t seen this film, go and get it and see it. It is a masterpiece of cinematic art, a film against war and a love story between two survivors. In the immense tragedies it documents, it is also a hopeful statement on life and love.

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