Strictly Film School, by Acquarello
[…]They are kindred spirits, bound together by personal shame and guilt of survival, and an overwhelming sense that they can never go home again (as in Krzysztof Kieslowski’s White. It is through their affair that the memory of her beloved is reawakened. In essence, the architect is the catalyst: the receptive soul who guides her through the painful, introspective path that leads to closure.
Alain Resnais retains the radical narrative structure of Marguerite Duras’ screenplay, yet achieves a distinctly personal tome on war, guilt, and atonement in Hiroshima mon amour. Resnais’ incorporation of unstructured, elliptical chronology creates a sense of atemporality and perpetuity. The lovers emerge after their tryst from a hotel named New Hiroshima, reinforcing the theme of irretrievable history: figuratively, the lost, old Hiroshima that the actress has never (and cannot) known. The repeated dialogue, documentary footage of victims, antiwar protest banners, and flashbacks of Nevers, provide a seamless fusion of the past coexisting with the present. Moreover, the actress’ tangential narrative, recounting her nervous breakdown, and her interchanged references to the Japanese architect as her lost German lover, further dissolve the visual linearity of the flashback sequence. This results in a film that is chronologically obscure, a reflection of the toll of personal memories – of how the past subtly, but invariably, affects us – and forever alters our behavior. Hiroshima mon amour is a highly stylized, tightly interwoven tale of lost love, a uniquely realized story of collective conscience: of regret and survival, loss and reconstruction…of nations and people.
A cornerstone film of the French New Wave, Alain Resnais’ first feature is one of the most influential films of all time. A French actress (Emmanuelle Riva) and a Japanese architect (Eiji Okada) engage in a brief, intense affair in postwar Hiroshima, their consuming fascination impelling them to exorcise their own scarred memories of love and suffering. Utilizing an innovative flashback structure and an Academy Award-nominated screenplay by novelist Marguerite Duras, Resnais delicately weaves past and present, personal pain and public anguish, in this moody masterwork.
SPECIAL FEATURE – Commentary by film historian and biographer Peter Cowie (as second audio track)
A solid full-length commentary, weaving historical facts with film production and filmmaker biographies, along with accessible critiques and theories. Cowie’s written a large body of film-related books during his long career, yet he comes armed with WW2 and post-war facts that elevate his contribution to an engaging, frequently fun and emotionally endowed lecture. Some may enjoy an unending stream of theoretical positing, but Criterion’s selected the right orator; one who weighs his words with the experience of having seen the film upon its theatrical debut, having met the director over the years, and a writer at heart who understands the value of supporting his observations with historical facts and quotes from published interviews with the film’s cast and crew. Film Theory tends to dominate the film’s final reel, but Cowie makes some excellent parallels between Resnais’ subsequent films, and the obvious thematic and visual aspects of “Night and Fog.” (from kqek.com)