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HIROSHIMA MON AMOUR
1959 - Alain Resnais
France / Japan
63
Opening Shot

The poetic and internal tone as well as the poetic construction of the film is immediatly set from the opening moments. In a mysterious series of closeup we see the bodies of two lovers, covered with ash, embracing in closeup. Immediatly we are not sure what we are seeing but after some dissvolves it becomes clear to be the delicate embrace of two human bodies. "You saw nothing in Hiroshima. Nothing." says the man. The woman replies, "I saw everything, I saw the hopsital..."

The Film

Hiroshima Mon Amour is a film of such rare beauty. A breathtakingly poetic and powerful examination of time, memory, and the longing for atonement of traumatic events in order to go on living. It's also a film of lost love, regret, survival and reconstruction. Hiroshima Mon Amour features an innovative nonlinear structure in which time becomes irrelevant. Through its structure, the past and the present emerge as one. The film essentially becomes a rhythmic reflection of personal memories and feelings. Like most of Alain Resnais's films, it features flashbacks, dissolves, moments of rapid cutting, fascinating tracking shots, poetic voice over, and several other unique cinematic techniques in order to definitively capture the essential internal structure of the film. Hiroshima Mon Amour is a masterful and even groundbreaking display of editing, and photography blended with a symbolic story and poetic dialogue, and ultimately among the greatest films ever made.

The Filmmaker

Alain Resnais may be the quintessential filmmaker of the French New Wave's 'Left Bank'. Though he emerged into feature filmmaking at the same time as Jean-Luc Godard and Francois Truffaut, Resnais had a very distinctive style which clearly separated him from the "Cahiers group". Resnais career began in editing and documentary short films. Among this work are two highly acclaimed achievements (Guernica, as well as Night and Fog- which Truffaut once claimed as 'the greatest film ever made'). Stylistically Resnais has a much different approach then the free-flowing and improvisational style of early Godard or Truffaut. Resnais films are detailed, complexly structured and controlled. Themes of his films very often center around the effects of time (past, present, and future) as well as of memories and actions. He uses these themes in combination with his masterful ability at editing, and very often jump cuts through non-linear time and space. In many ways this masterful skill creates an expression of Resnais emotional themes, such as in his debut feature (and perhaps his greatest achievement), 1959's Hiroshima mon Amour. Resnais editing heightens the sense of an emotional space between the past and the present that can not be connected. His themes of time and memory reached a definitive peak with his masterful 1966 film La Guerre est Finie. In many it stands as a quintessential Resnais films, as here he effectively uses flashbacks as well as quick flashes of the future. This not only adds to the poetic themes, depth, and atmosphere, but also creates a haunting sense of doom to the film and it's characters. Above all, Resnais films are poetic and complex and certainly left open to ponder. He is working on various levels as there is many different interpretations to take from his films. Resnais continues to challenge and explore with filmmaking today. His last two features were musicals (including his wonderful 2003 film Not on the Lips) and Resnais is currently in final production of a new feature. Since his masterful debut in 1959, Resnais has made a little over fifteen features. Each stand to represent a truly unique and gifted filmmaker who captures cinema at it's most complex and poetic.

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