NOUVELLE VAGUE – MON AMOUR
Shot during the dawn of the French New Wave movement (1959) Hiroshima Mon Amour is a tale told between two worlds; one of war and the latter of love. Both complexities are juxtaposed by two parallel worlds to cross-examine how a country deals with war and how two people from different worlds are able to share the same perspective yet also fall to the submission of a war torn society. The term French New Wave first appeared in 1957 in an article in L’Express entitled “Report on Todays Youth”. The article, by the journalist Francoise Giroud, and the book she published the following year called The New Wave: Portrait of Today’s Youth, had nothing to do with cinema, but was about the need for change in society. However, the term was borrowed by journalists who used it to apply to the young directors creating a storm at the 1959 Cannes Film Festival, and soon the phrase caught on internationally. French film director, Alain Resnais associated with both the Left Bank Group and the Nouvelle Vague was known for creating themes of time, memory and history, and his dazzling exploration of cinematographic technique, had established him as one of France’s most distinctive and influential filmmakers. Resnais had already made a name for himself as a documentary director with Nuit Et Brouillard (Night and Fog) (1955), the first film to focus on the Nazi concentration camps of the Second World War. He was soon approached to make a film about the atomic bomb. Working closely with novelist Marguerite Duras, the concept for a narrative fictional film emerged from their struggle to realize what was essentially impossible to make as a documentary. The story they came up with was a love story set against the disaster of Hiroshima. Infusing past and present through poetic imagery and stark documentary footage, Hiroshima, Mon Amour was both moving and stunningly original for its time. The innovative use of flashback, to illuminate themes of time and memory and the horror of war made the film a huge international success and launched Resnais and Duras to the forefront of what commentators were now calling the French New Wave.
Heiter says: “Hiroshima, Mon Amour is a film of pairings and paradoxes. Of macrocosm and microcosm, of remembering and forgetting, of man and woman, of ecstasy and despair, of intimacy and exposure, of love and war, of death and rebirth, of the temporal and the infinite.” In the final analysis, the isolation and numbness that both elle and lui felt was not the pain of past events, but their inability to hold onto the pain of past events. The pain was in the forgetting, not the remembering. As she says: “I longed for a memory beyond consolation. A memory of shadows and stone.” It is a film that shows the paradox of fighting against the very thing that would give an individual relief: the act of forgetting.