• Resnais started Hiroshima Mon Amour as a documentary (he had made shorts and documentaries before but this is his debut) and then he integrates that into a brilliant blend of an almost David Lean-like Brief Encounter or Visconti-like Le Notti Bianche– two-hander romance (two lovers, heavy dialogue, short time span – this is 2-3 days)
It’s not exactly Bergman or Varda’s shot in La Pointe Courte but a magificent frame here using depth of field and character blocking
  • It starts with a distinct jazz score and dust, perhaps ash, poetically falling on posing naked bodies and then the dueling voice-overs come in with “you know nothing”, disorienting, conflicting— Resnais is going for sensation and mood here- not for coherence or traditional narrative
It starts with a distinct jazz score and dust, perhaps ash, poetically falling on posing naked bodies and then the dueling voice-overs come in with “you know nothing”, disorienting, conflicting— Resnais is going for sensation and mood here- not for coherence or traditional narrative
  • The opening 16 minute montage medley is important to film history—lyrical– it is brilliant—this is the documentary section and Resnais fragments or flickers in the shots of the bodies of our two voices to ground you in a feature fiction film as the camera has rolling tracking shots (often establishing shots of a museum, hospital in Hiroshima). He’s melding this tragedy and these two characters and fusing the two cities (Nevers in France and Hiroshima in Japan where the film is mostly set) with these two embodiments of those cities in the form of these characters (Emmanuelle Riva and Elji Okada)
The opening 16 minute montage medley is important to film history—lyrical– it is brilliant
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this is the documentary section and Resnais fragments or flickers in the shots of the bodies of our two voices to ground you in a feature fiction film as the camera has rolling tracking shots (often establishing shots of a museum, hospital in Hiroshima).
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He’s melding this tragedy and these two characters and fusing the two cities (Nevers in France and Hiroshima in Japan where the film is mostly set) with these two embodiments of those cities in the form of these characters (Emmanuelle Riva and Elji Okada)
  • The remaining 70-80 minutes of the film is told through them—a meditation on pain, trauma, memory— Resnais is a forerunner in the use (incredibly prevalent since 1959 when this film came out) jump-cut editing to carry us the viewers to the terrible lives of their tragedy via flashback (shot silently here carried by voice-over). I’d always sort of attributed this to Midnight Cowboy and the past of Jon Voight’s Joe Buck character and how Schlesinger uses it—but this is 10 year before
  • An absolute jaw-dropper frame at 51 minutes of the two at the restaurant
An absolute jaw-dropper frame at 51 minutes of the two at the restaurant
  • It also seems improbable that Godard didn’t see this film (the year before Breathless) – Breathless, of course, revolutionized the jump cut editing technique but I see it here. Lynn Ramsay’s hermetically-sealed, frozen characters in a post-trauma state seem influenced by this film as does Kiarostami’s melding of documentary and fiction and those lines blurring. The cutaway editing and those rhythms also feel like an influence of Ozu’s trademark pillow shots (pioneered long before Resnais).
  • At 59 minutes a long monologue by Riva— the tale of the death of her first love, devastating, impressive acting. We’d get another display by Riva (certainly should be the best female performance of 1959—sorry Marilyn Monroe but I’ve changed my mind) at 71 minutes with her confession in the mirror. The confession isn’t to her husband, but to her lost love during the war and it is not for cheating, it is for telling her story which she considers much more important
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Riva certainly is the best female performance of 1959—sorry Marilyn Monroe but I’ve changed my mind
  • In Riva’s flashback we get a glimpse of her shaved head and it’s hard not to think of Dreyer’s Joan of Arc
  • At 66 minutes another stunner of a frame outside the window of the same Tea Room Restaurant
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At 66 minutes another stunner of a frame outside the window of the same Tea Room Restaurant
  • A powerfully edited sequence at 75 minutes as Riva is walking the streets at night and Resnais intermixes shots of the two cities
A powerfully edited sequence at 75 minutes as Riva is walking the streets at night and Resnais intermixes shots of the two cities
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  • a masterpiece