Friday, January 15, 2010

Hiroshima Mon Amour - Memory As A Repository Of Loss



A movement in art is a reaction to the “changes in psychology produced by changes in the social environment” (Bagulaya 2006, citing Leon Trotsky). Art form therefore changes as a corollary to alterations in the environmental and material conditions of society. Such conceptualization parallels the base-superstructure relationship, wherein “art...is part of the superstructure” (Eagleton 1976). Art then is not an autonomous product, removed from its social context. It production is partly determined by relations prevailing in a societ

In an attempt to avoid the determinism associated with this Marxist formulation, it is to be noted that art is not wholly the making of the ruling social order; it is not a passive product. Indeed, changes in art forms may also be seen as attempts to institute transformation in a particular society. Art, in this case, is political in that it can be an instrument to perpetuate or alter a particular social order. That said, there is a tension between the base and its expression in the superstructure (i.e. art). This cannot be better displayed in the process of producing film as it is a collaborative art (hence, involving multiple reading). By its very nature then, the production of film undergoes a process of mediation. Although a concept in literary criticism, this process captures the complexity of film production in relation to the base-superstructure dialecti.

How exactly is the social milieu mediated in the film? Eagleton, in view of literary criticism, provides what may be seen as filters in art production: mode of production, literary relations, ideology, authorial ideology, and aesthetics. For the purpose of this film, however, only the authorial ideology and the mode of production will be discussed (the others will be included within these two broad filters, so to speak). The mode of production here will be used in an expanded manner such that it will pertain to the socio-historical context of the film itself. The authorial ideology, on the other hand, refers to the predisposition and techniques utilized by the director (and screenwriter) in the film.

Hiroshima Mon Amour began with the initiative of Argos Films to produce a documentary about the atomic bombing towards the end of the World War II. The purpose, therefore, of the film is to present the “truth” about the Hiroshima bombing. How such is presented can be seen as we examine the film.


Hiroshima (1959), together with Les 400 Coups, is “one of the two most original films made in France since the war.” With an attempt to interweave past and present, the movie inaugurated Alain Resnais, the director, to the forefront of Le Nouvelle Vague of the late 1950s to 1960s. The New Wave is a period in French cinema that is said to be influenced by two guiding principles: the rejection of classical cinematic form and the idea that a film is a personal artistic expression, consequently, bearing the mark of its author/director. The rejection of the classic literary style of French cinema was a critique to what Jean-Luc Godard referred to as “oppressive and deterministic” nature of their plots. Auteur theory, on the other hand, was in reaction to the tendency of post-war France to adopt old traditions, couching in aesthetic terms the “attempt to remove film from the realm of social and political concern” (Hiller 1985). The filmmakers then took on social and political upheavals of the era. Alain Resnais, himself, has documented several including Nuit et Brouillard (Night and Fog, 1955), a documentary of the holocaust also produced by Argos Films.

Such characterization is present in the Hiroshima. For one, it deals with a real event through a mixture of documentary footage and narrative fiction. Further, as has been argued, the film espouses a different kind of character development and, consequently, different kind of narrative. Resnais himself, in an interview, suggested that the viewer is supposed to cast their own interpretation of the story, saying that he was just one viewer. Auteur-ship, however, is still evident in the film and will be discussed later in the essay.

The socio-political and economic context shortly after the World War II has also influenced the movement and the film under consideration, as well. It must be noted however that France was almost continually at war until 1962. Further, from 1946-1958, the Fourth Republic went through twenty governments. It is therefore not surprising to see Hiroshima maintaining an explicit anti-nuclear war, and war in general, stance. In connection with this, the film raises an unequivocal question pertaining to the rationality/absurdity of human existence. The exhibition of the casualties in the Hiroshima bombing presents an indictment to the very idea of war.

Delving deeper into the film, it presents a non-linear narrative employing a stream of consciousness and a sense of experience through memory. The rapid and brief flashback device neatly weaves the places of the past and present. The woman is caught in a clash between remembering and forgetting the past. The parallels between the Japanese man and the German lover present a difficulty on the part of the woman to achieve emotional satisfaction. The “anguish of forgetting” however is the loss of her very identity.

In reconsideration, the opening scene tells a lot about the film. The display of unclothed bodies holding each other and the nuclear ashes beginning to cover them illustrate an attempt to merge the private and the public. It is an expression of personal pain in the context of a larger social setback. The title itself connects “Hiroshima” with the woman’s love.

Authorial ideology determined the mode by which the political content is mediated in the film. The combination of narrative fiction and documentary footage in the film, for instance, was determined by the director and the screenwriter. Further, the political prejudice of the auteurs is reflected in the film.


Alain Resnais, with his preoccupation in the themes of time, memory, and history, attempts to rediscover “unity from a basis of fragmentation”. The seemingly disparate elements in the film (the French, the Japanese, Nevers, and Hiroshima, among others) are constantly seeking reconciliation in the film. It is here that we see Resnais at play: “the world is broken up, fragmented into a series of tiny pieces, and it has to be put back together again” (Hiller 1985). Such can is illustrated in the rebuilding of Hiroshima and the reconstruction of the woman’s identity.

In contrast with the earlier documentary on the holocaust directed by Resnais, however, Hiroshima is more restrained in that it resorted to express its political content through narrative film rather than a more explicit documentary format. This can be attributed to the difference between the Germans and the Americans, and therefore, the Japanese and the Jews. To make a documentary regarding the tragedy would then translate to documenting horrors perpetrated by the Allies.

Marguerite Duras, on the other hand, brings out the “gender aspect” of the film. If surveyed, much of the works of Duras grants importance to places and geographical locations. For Duras, place plays an important role in the formation of women’s identity and experience. Mohsen (1998) puts it thusly:

Place is incorporated in women's identity as the result of the forced silence and solitude women endure in patriarchal societies, where they are relegated to the interior of homes, or to Nature, while men participate in the political sphere and monopolize speech, a situation that the female protagonist in Hiroshima mon amour has experienced in all its traumatic implications, since her identity is built as loss or erasure.

The film then may be construed as a reaction to the “persistent continuation of gender inequality.” That being said, Hiroshima is an arena where the ramifications in the French society, the political motives of the auteurs, and the status quo are reconciled.

Ultimately, it is important to note that Hiroshima Mon Amour was produced to supposedly present the “truth” about atomic obliteration of Hiroshima. Such destructive experiences however are so distressing and personal that representation through documentary is impossible. It is only achievable if it is illustrated through personal experiences of love and suffering. The importance of lived space (i.e. Hiroshima), especially for Duras, is integral in reliving and understanding such experiences.

O. P. Imbat

References:
Bagulaya, J. D. (2006). Writing Literary History: Mode of Economic Production and Twentieth Century Waray Poetry. Quezon City: University of the Philippines Press.
Cardullo, B. (1987). Indelible Images: New Perspectives on Classic Films. Lanham: University Press of America.
Eagleton, T. (1976). Marxism and Literary Criticism. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Hiller, J. (1985). Cahiers du Cinema, the 1950s: Neo-Realism, Hollywood, and the New Wave. Cambridge: Harvard University Press
Mohsen, C. (1998). Place, Memory, and Subjectivity in Marguerite Duras’ Hiroshima Mon Amour. Romanic Review 89(4), 567-582.






Hiroshima Mon Amour was made in 1959 by Alain Resnais, along with the 400 blows and breathless, it is one of the most significant films of what become known as the French New Wave.

The movie is a symbolic love story meshed with the gruesome bombing of the city of Hiroshima. On the facade the film has a very straightforward plot. A French actress Elle is in Hiroshima because of a movie about peace. There she meets a Lui, a Japanese architect with whom she had a one night stand. Even though both of them are married they find themselves falling in love with one another. Since they are both married they understand that romance is doomed. Significantly, Elle has been in the same situation before with a German soldier. In the movie Elle was relating her first love to Lui and the consequences of it; in this regard it highlights a single contrast between the past and the present. The movie seeks to present more than this that it implies parallels between joy/despair and society/individual. The analysis of this dimension of the films opens up to a much wider scope of interpretation of conflict to whether it is best to realise true desire for an instant, rather than never having been presented with the temptation in the first place.


The movie is all about the dialogue of two lovers and their pasts. It can be observed that even if Elle is talking to her Japanese lover, she is really talking to her past lover. In a strange psychological shift, Lui assumes the incarnate role of Elle's German soldier in her reminiscences, thus enabling her to unlock her oblivion and relive her repressed memories of love, loss and the despair that followed. So all is not what it seems. There are surfaces under the surfaces. All the elements are in juxtaposition. The movie swirls with myriad intermeshed images, symbols, allusions, and metaphors. Through this, the movie explores the nature of forgetting and remembering with regard to human emotions.

Hiroshima Mon Amour also deals with contrasts and opposites such as love and death, war and peace, living and remembering, as well as dealing with two people from different parts of the world: one from France and one from Japan. The overall theme of the movie was that of torture and exorcism, it is the painful knowledge that eventually all shared moments will be forgotten no matter how resonant they may be. Then with the dissipation of memory, our very substance would be affected. This is a terrifying thought but there are at least illuminations in the obscurity of the situation.

With her confusion behind them, the enigmatic yes-no, stay-go relationship between Elle and Lui continues into the wee hours of the morning, with each trying to say their final farewells, but wandering the streets of Hiroshima instead, only to find themselves at an all night café, which by no coincidence is called Casablanca. There, it becomes painfully obvious that their ill-timed and ill-fated love was never to be. At long last, back in her hotel room, their agony is ended, but not resolved, with the dawn. The essence of the movie was that the thought of in love and in war, we must never forget. We must remember things even though we never wish to remember them. Because it is by these memories we are constituted of.


An alternative viewpoint would that this movie is no more meaningful than a blank piece of paper since the whole construct is obscure because it contains nothing. However the film can easily take this accusation because Hiroshima Mon Amour is and will always be a film to be judged personally.

So much has been written about Hiroshima Mon Amour since its induction into the history of cinema. The film has been reviewed and analyzed by critics, scholars and filmmakers, and has been unanimously recognized as a cinematic milestone and a benchmark by all.

R. Mora

23 comments:

Othello II/Lloyd said...

Hiroshima Mon Amour is an unusual war film. Directed by Alain Resnais and written by Marquerite Duras, the film is set in post-World War II Hiroshima with flashbacks in the aforementioned city and in the commune of Nevers. Warfare, a typical scenario in war films, is not depicted in the film. Instead, the film did concentrate on the pain, trauma, and horror a war has caused to people, as individuals and as a collective.

The film Hiroshima Mon Amour exposes the impact and consequences the dropping of the atomic bomb at the city of Hiroshima on the 6th of August, 1945. This was presented in documentary-esque form, re-enacting the incident realistically. The documentary-esque presentation of some scenes in the film gave a realistic feel to the film. On the other hand, the film also tells a tale of two persons of different nationality both affected by atrocities caused by the Second World War. The main female character shares a story of love lost between her (a French) and a German soldier as a consequence of war. She shares the consequences she suffered after it was found out that she was “sleeping with the enemy” so to speak, having a non-adversarial (or romantic) relationship with a German soldier in the commune of Nevers – a place she wishes to forget due to the traumatic experiences she had there. On the other hand, the main male character’s family was in Hiroshima at the day of the A-bomb dropping in the aforementioned city. It can be said that the film is trying to expose the pain war gives people (the catastrophe caused by the dropping of the atomic bomb to the Japanese population as a whole can be referred to as “public pain”) as a collective and as individuals (the consequence of forbidden love the female character experienced and the trauma the atomic bomb dropping gave the male character can be referred to as “private pain”). The romantic affair between the two characters added human drama to the film. It also made the film more interesting to watch.

It can also be said that the movie is some sort of a tool used to condemn and to express disgust over the Hiroshima bombing. A considerably long scene in the film, a scene that can be actually omitted without compromising the film’s storyline, featured streamers and banners which convey the message that man’s political intelligence is much less developed than his scientific intelligence. One thing that may come to the viewer’s mind in reaction to the scene is disgust over the barbaric act of dropping the A-bomb in the Japanese city. Maybe, the film is aiming to send a message to the viewer that the unnecessary act by a state against another state which affected and killed thousands of innocent lives should be condemned and should not be repeated. Hiroshima Mon Amour can be considered as an “anti-war film”. To add, the scene in particular has the potential of motivating political action by influencing the viewer to condemn the use of atomic bombs and other similar weaponry that claim a lot of innocent lives even more.

The movie is presented in a non-linear narrative form. The movie is very unusual for it featured many flashbacks and that it focused much on the conversation aspect between the two main characters. To add, their dialogue is too poetic. I believe the poetic dialogue between the main characters is intentional so as to make the viewer focus on their conversation. Anyway, the viewer will not understand the plot if they do not listen closely to the conversations.

All in all, Hiroshima Mon Amour is a well-crafted World War II film. It is a moving film about a condemnable dark chapter in our world history.

MENDOZA, O. II M.

tinborja said...

Past experiences would dictate that, indeed, the most boring things in this world are those which offer much learning and sophistication to the normal human being with a very limited attention span. At least, my experiences would frame that the statement above be the truth.

Hiroshima Mon Amour, a 1959 French Film by acclaimed director Alain Resnais, is a classic example of the statement above. Bordering between a narrative fiction and a documentary, the film, though sleep-inducing at times, craftily presented a unique rendition of the Hiroshima bombing and the divergent perspectives on that world event which ended World War II. The art and sophistication with the way the film was made divulges the central theme of the film already. Seeing as the story jumps around chronologically and we are often unsure of where precisely in time we are, the jump cuts and screwing with the chronology must be but for a purpose. It could be that the chronology is off because the scenes are memories acting like real memories and flowing randomly.


Not so much focused on providing relevant information or details on how the Hiroshima bombing came about, the film made use of the relevance of memory and time in the creation of a private and public identity. Using memory as a central theme, the film showcases the necessity to come to terms with the horrors of the past- whether it is heartbreak in the past or national disaster that left your country mourning. The film is about pain of memories forgotten and remembered. Just as the pain of lost love will be forgotten, so too will be the horrors of Hiroshima. The scars will always be there but that feeling of pain and isolation as the world celebrates while you mourn will be lost in the past. Given that both of the characters in the film have painful memories of the war, given that both of them experienced that lonesome isolation and pain as the rest of the world deems celebration to be the mood of the times, the film suggests that the torment of the Hiroshima disaster, like the painful love affair, will one day be forgotten as the characters choose to move on and start anew.


But then, should it be forgotten? Should a relevant memory that changed the course of world history or of a personal life such as that of “Nevers” be removed completely from one’s consciousness? Is it not a crucial part of one’s identity?

Indeed, the film offers many interpretations and truths that changes from frame to frame. For one, the film could be a political study on the sociopolitical differences of the east and the west in terms of their war experiences; it could be a comparison on the public and private divide- that difference between the public and private pain and whichever contributes more to our identity-building; it could be a study in history such that history is the collection of that which we choose to remember and that which we want to forget.

In the end though, memory being its central theme, the film Hiroshima Mon Amour, defied the laws and standards of Hollywood, as it presented an excellent film of art and sophistication, as it traversed down two different kinds of memories both of which are necessary in the creation of their identity. It is the lines at the end which renders meaning to the film, it is those lines which summarizes the identity of the two characters such that nameless though they be, their identity goes beyond their names such that their identity is Never and Hiroshima- those two major points of socialization that shaped their being as dictated by their experiences of pain and joy, isolation and belongingness, as dictated by that which they choose to remember and deem to forget.

Kristine Camia said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kristine Camia said...

“Viewers are strongly encouraged to stay with this one from beginning to end; it won't be a smooth ride, but it will be an immensely rewarding one.” ~ Hal Erickson, The New York Times
True to Hal Erickson’s advice (or warning), Hiroshima Mon Amour (1959) is not an easy movie to watch. This award-winning film by Alan Resnais is I believe not made to entertain but to make viewers think. It is a kind of movie that will keep you thinking even after it ended. Watching it is like seeing a film on crime-solving where you want to take note of certain details, analyze it and then make a guess on who’s the criminal in the end of the film. But this movie is different because even at its end, the mystery and questions still remain. And so after watching the film, you will just be at your seat asking yourself, ‘What was that?’.

But a better question to ask is ‘What is it that this film is trying to say?’. This is a good question that needs extra effort to answer. The movie started with a French woman reminiscing the Hiroshima bombing. But her companion, a Japanese guy kept on telling her that she saw and knows nothing about the bombing. From this point until the end, the movie will revolve around the struggle of remembering and forgetting.

But what does it take for someone to let go or hold on to his/her memories? There are memories that we tend to forget easily, those that just take days or even hours to forget. But there are also those that we cannot let go even years have gone by. It’s like every piece of memory has a degree of importance to us that dictates if we will keep it or not and the time that it will take us to do it. And this importance, I think depends on how true an event is for us.

As discussed in class, truth is a very abstract concept. No single definition would suffice to describe what every people think about what is true and what is not. Every people have their own understanding and meaning of truth. This difference leads to different appreciation of memories. There are memories that are very true to us that we tend to hold on to it for a long time. And there are some that may be fictional to other people but true to some.

And maybe this is also the explanation on how public memories become private memories. There are things that happen in our country or in society that take place even if we do nothing. There are natural disasters, political chaos and in the film’s case, war. The memories these events produce may transform to private memories depending on how true the event is for us. How true an event defends on whether we personally experience it, see it or just hear it. There are people who cannot forget public events because they were there when it happens but there are also those who easily forget it because they just heard or read about it.

And this may be the reason why the French woman in the film kept on telling that she saw and knows perfectly what happened in Hiroshima. It is because just like the victims of Hiroshima bombing, she is also a victim of the war. She also lost the person and the things that are important to her. For her, the war was real so real that it almost took her sanity away.

There are so many things that happen in the public realm everyday. We hear, read or experience some of them and these produce private memories automatically. We may not want it but as long as we are part of this society, we cannot stop it. Because if there’s something that can cross the boundary between public and private without us even noticing it – maybe it would be memories.

Czarina XD said...

Part 1

What proves to be far more important for a successful recapturing and ultimately the conveyance of one’s intentions? Is it a question between what is real and what is fiction, between what is authentic and what seems to be a mere reconstruction of truth, between what is personal from public? Or does it lay on an attempt in reconciling the opposite sides of a film-making spectrum for the purpose of capturing divergent perspectives?

Hiroshima Mon Amour (1959) is a remarkable film with which we can resolve such divergent choices in film-making and in conveying a writer’s initiative and one’s perspective of how things are and how they are suppose to make sense to us. The film, as can be deduced from what Duras, the film’s writer, was trying to present, tried to recapture both what is factual—-something that had actually happened in recent history, something public, something that has concrete and apparent consequences—-and something fictional. It is in this technique that we get an authentic sense of what is fictional, no matter how contradicting that may sound. It is through this that we can define what fiction is—-something private, something that can be easily proved ‘untrue’ due to lack of shared perception of what had happened. This can be seen in the way the Hiroshima bombing was shown using pictures of the injured and news clippings; it is an event not just known but also experienced by a lot of people. The girl’s past, on the other hand, depended on her memory of what had happened 13 years ago; it is an occurrence that the girl alone can be affected and can completely relate to. There is a perspective where she seemed to be coming from, and coupled by the absence of high degree of realism indicators, suspension of disbelief became more difficult to rouse. There is higher probability of alteration due to lack of factual basis of such occurrence. It seemed like Resnais, the director of the film, used both techniques to portray the stark contrast between those two occurrences. It can also mean that there are experiences far more personal that documentation cannot effectively encapsulate, as what can be read on one of this film’s main entries.

BANTAY

Czarina XD said...

Part 2

Moreover, as a viewer of this film, one can also deduce, aside from the commendable method with which both the director and the writer employed, the degree of effectiveness in conveying the pain and loss during the World War II and its aftermath. The raging war between the Americans and the Japanese, punctuated by the bomb drop on Hiroshima and Nagazaki, had provided us not just a glimpse but also a caution as to how destructive and cruel warfare can be. What happened in Hiroshima, as was portrayed in the film, is not the usual conflict that is brought about by a war. The people who are killed are civilians, not soldiers. They are unarmed, as opposed to those in the battlefield. They’re not forewarned, thus not given that much of a chance of survival. The film was successful in highlighting such dark time in our history that pain and loss is just impossible not to feel. But at the same time, the film also presented an extremely opposite instance in relation to Hiroshima bombing yet the same feelings can still be invoked—-the girl’s past and her memory of Nevers. The girl too, is a victim of the war. But just like those who perished in Hiroshima, she, too, is an individual ill-equipped in facing her troubled and younger years. The film also established what it is to have peace also in diverging manners. Peace for those who suffered the effects of the bombing is living with the pain of memory and using it to go on with their lives. In contrast, peace for the girl is forgetting entirely what had happened.

If there was something this film had shown me, it is not the degree by which you can relate to the occurrences and the intensity of pain and loss felt by people for that matter. It is the recognition that there are many instances where one’s identity can be derived from. It can be as public as Hiroshima or as private as the girl’s memory. There are still monumental events in our lives that we’ll always bring with us, shaping us, and ultimately, making who we are. Such is what the film is also trying to deliver, that after the not-too-usual conversation between the two protagonists, they came to realize their true identities.

The film thus, incorporated multiple levels of socio-cultural differences that the more it emphasizes the dissimilarities between the two characters, the two instances covered, the diverging levels of pain and worthiness of remembrance—-the more resonant their connection are to the two main characters. As nameless as they are, their identities revealed in the film proved to be far more significant in making sense of our own interpretations of the intention of the Renais and Duras.

BANTAY

denisefrancisco said...

PART I

What is memory?

As Hobbes would put it, much memory or memory of many things, is called experience. Such experiences whether good or bad can have an impact on our personal identity. Yet we humans have the ability to either make them a part of who we are, or completely forget about them and burry them in the past. I personally think that much of our experiences cannot exactly be measured as either good or bad. There are some things that may be viewed based on how we want to see them, thus assigning subjective meanings.

In the beginning of the movie Hiroshima Mon Amour, we could see how Elle narrates the images that she saw of the bombing, despite being in France at that time. She tells his Japanese lover, Lui, of the exact scenes and images that had an impact and certainly were retained in her memory. On the other hand, Lui keeps on contradicting her by saying that she didn’t see those things of post-war Hiroshima. It was as if he was trying to deliberately erase whatever negative memory there is in her. For me, this scene is very important as it narrates the aspect of both experience and memory. First of all, the narration of the scenes and events that happened after the bombing created a clearer and more definite picture of the Hiroshima bombing, discovering that such event can be viewed in different dimensions. For a non-Japanese like me, I have always seen the bombing as a significant event as it symbolized the end of the WWII. Just like what Elle said, people were rejoicing because they knew that it was an end to their struggle. But looking at the other side of the picture, it was a devastating experience for the Japanese, as several people were killed and badly injured, both by the bombing itself and the negative effects of nuclear chemicals. With this, one can conclude that experiences and memories have subjective meanings, depending on the person. Those who were not directly affected by the said event may see it differently, compared to those who were exactly hit by the catastrophe. The contrasting character of Elle and Lui in this scene shows how they would like to view the bombing. In the case of Elle who was not Japanese, she wanted to retain the memory, despite experiencing it only through her character as a nurse in her film. On the other hand, Lui who was Japanese knew that he himself wanted to forget about the misfortune and move on, believing that erasing the memory would give him a ray of hope in continuing life in Japan and knowing that such event will never happen again.

denisefrancisco said...

PART II

Elle’s memories of Nevers are another example of a significant personal experience. Her life in her hometown during the WWII was a whirlwind. She was seen as a disgrace by her own family, thus being treated as a prisoner. Her secret love affair to a German soldier has been very difficult for her. At a tender age, she experienced being severely punished by her family by being on house arrest at their basement, cutting her hair, being isolated from her neighbors, and being left by her first love. Such devastation has caused her to completely forget about all these experiences. It was her coping mechanism in order for her to move on and continue with her life. Mentioning to Lui at the beginning of the film that she will never go back to Nevers was an example of how she intentionally wants to erase Nevers as a part of her life. She didn’t want anything to do with it anymore. Sadly, despite her coping mechanism of forgetting and running away from the place and the memory, it was as if Nevers was chasing her and trying to surface from her suppressed past. This was seen when she and Lui were at Casablanca and she was talking to Lui without any inhibitions, seeing him as her German lover. So in the end, instead running away from her past, she decides to go back to Nevers, signifying as if she recognizes the fact that no matter what she does, Nevers will still be a part of her.

The movie ended in such a way that it kept me hanging, thinking as if the last scene was supposed to be the part where the story will build up and reach its climax. It was unfortunate that many questions remained unanswered. Yet for me, the movie was able to give attention to the importance of memory. Experiences constitute what we know as memory. These experiences become part of our identity. But what makes it different is the fact that we can deliberately control our memory in such a way that we try to forget about experiences which we think are irrelevant and painful, while making a part of our lives those that made a significant and positive impact on who we are. Some experiences may be direct and personal, while some may be through other people. But despite the fact that we are aware of the ability of sorting out our experiences in order to decide which to bury and which to put in our “memory box”, we become unconscious of some experiences that have created a great impact on us, that no matter how we try to forget about them, it’s as if they have a way of resurfacing and chasing us, reminiscent of who we really are.

kristia said...

Set against the backdrop of the city of Hiroshima, Hiroshima Mon Amour is a story of the relationship of a French actress and a Japanese architect, who although are both committed to their own husband and wife, eventually became lovers. The film however, offers a deeper plot than just a typical love story.

The story was set during the aftermath of the war and was able to vividly portray how the war affected the lives of the people. In here, we can see how the private and public lines became blurred, when a public event was able to affect the private lives of the citizens, both during and after the war. For example, the French actress was marked for life because of the affair that she had with the enemy. Because of the war, a divide existed between the different nationalities. Unfortunately for the girl, she fell in love with someone who was considered as an enemy and she spent some time paying for the “mistake” that she committed. The Japanese architect, on the other hand, had to live with the guilt of having survived the war while some of his relatives died because of the bombing. It can be said then, that the film was able to show how a significant event such as the Hiroshima bombing was able to affect the citizens not just at the national level, but on the personal level as well.

This can be related to one of the central themes of the film which is that eventually, a person will somehow have to deal with the horrors of the past. Both the French actress and the Japanese architect experienced something that they would want to forget, or at least somehow forget the pain that came with those memories. But as much as both of them would want to move on from those painful events and memories, they both know that it is more difficult to abandon the past – in the words of the female character, “the horror of forgetting”.

This can somehow be considered as the second theme of the film – that memory is crucial to the identity of a person. As was already mentioned earlier, as much as the French actress would want to forget her painful experience with the German soldier, she knows that she would have a harder time if she completely forgot about the experience. In a way, in can be said that she acknowledges the fact that the said experience was already a part of her, it helped her become who she is in the present time. The same thing can be said for those who were affected by the war. As much as the public would want to forget the destruction that the bombing caused, the event can already be considered as a part of the history of the country. It already contributed to who they are now. Lessons were learned and realizations were made.

It is also noticeable that both characters remained unnamed all throughout the film. This can be interpreted as the filmmaker’s way of showing that anyone can be in the shoes of the main characters. Like the main characters, everyone has their own experiences that they would want to forget or that they would want to treasure forever. By not giving names to the characters, it makes it easier for the audience to relate to the protagonists and imagine themselves in the shoes of the French actress and the Japanese architect.

Hiroshima Mon Amour is then more than just a film about the war. It focused on how a public event was able to influence the private lives of the citizens, showing that the public and private divide can sometimes be blurred. At the same time, it showed the parallelism between the public and the private, demonstrating the idea that memory has a significant influence in the personal identity of a person and even the public identity of a nation.

katwinny said...

A post-world war II film, Hiroshima Mon Amour successfully depicted the tragic consequences of the war. It is normal that in wars, there are casualties, but seeing the images and knowing stories make us connect with these events. Honestly, after watching the film, I felt so lost within the story because I totally did not get what it was trying to tell. Maybe it was because of the unconventional way that it was narrated or the poetic dialogues of the characters. Either way, it left me in the dark.

If there’s anything that I like about the film, it is its realism. The narration was based on how the characters remember the events. Memory is similar to that, it does not follow a straight time line; you remember things in no sequence. But this strong point of the film may also be the reason why it was not clear to me. In between the present, past experiences of the woman were narrated. But with enough guidance, I think I finally understood one of the film’s messages.

Hiroshima Mon Amour connected memories with pain. The 2 lead characters, throughout the film, showed the 2 realms of pain: public and private. The Hiroshima bombing inflicted public pain with its large number of casualties and its long-lasting effects. On the other hand, the woman’s past also inflicted pain which resulted with her character evolving from her past experiences.

The director of the film, Alain Resnais, showed these two kinds of pain side-by-side and somehow raised the issue of what should first be addressed. In our society, this can best be seen with individuals trying to figure out how to address public issues when they have their own private ones. Apathetic individuals come to my mind regarding this. Are they apathetic because they really do not care or is it because they are just occupied with issues concerning their own? We can also see this with the comparison of the effects of an event in the West and the East. When the bombs were dropped, the West rejoiced as it symbolized the end of the war but they seemed to not care with the casualties that the bombs created.

With the two faces of war, the film showed us the opposite reactions of the winners and the losers and the differences between the public and the private.

Rivera, K. G.

migscardenas said...

Revolving around the relationship of a French woman and a Japanese man, Hiroshima Mon Amour presents a symbolic love affair between the characters. Alain Resnais, best known with works which deal with trauma and memory, successfully weaved memories and actual occurrences to create an illusion of ghostly timelessness. The opening dialogues, sounding a little poetic, introduces the main issue that has been tackled in the film-- the issue of truth and interpretation of memory.

Hiroshima Mon Amour is not the typical war movie that one would expect. It has an unconventional take on the incident although most of the times sticking on the facts. The philosophical underpinnings of the film encourages for a more in depth discourse on the issue of truth. Elle, played by Emmanuele Riva, at the start was trying to explain her fixation about Hirsohima while her partner was refuting her claims specifically about the girl seeing the bomb. It was as if he was negating the girl's past. Looking at this it becomes very evident that the discourse is continuous and ceaseless.

The film presented facts that are not alien to each one who had followed the events of World War II. However, the impact of the film may not always be the same for different people. Public memory as what was depicted on the Hiroshima bombing was a knowledge that is shared by everyone, even those who were not able to experience the bombing. The impact of the event may vary, the Japanese who were the target of the bombing may have a more intensified emotion as compared to other peoples. Their public identity as Japanese proves how strong memory can be on the lives of a people who share a common heritage.

Still, we cannot ignore the impact of a private memory. The experience of Elle in Never is a very private one. She was deeply influenced by this experience allowing her to carry that baggage even if she had already left the place. The film was able to show how a private memory can shape one's personality even if how hard one tries to forget. Her life in Never wasn't a pleasant one. Being disgraced by her own family definitely took a toll on her. She experienced severe punishments such as the cutting of her hair and being held as somewhat a prisoner because she fell in love with someone considered as an enemy. All of these formed who she is now, which somehow shows how the experiences of a person, whether public or private, can mold his or her identity.

The film can be interpreted in a variety of ways depending on which point of view you're looking. One can superficially examine the film as a movie about World War II, how countries during that time tried to battle it out in asserting their dominance. Another aspect that could be looked up and was discussed on this paper was the discussion on the public-private dichotomy in shaping the identity of an individual or a people. Still there could be a whole lot of discussion especially on the interpretation of certain historical events. The facts may be certain but there may be a multitude of interpretations not only to justify the event but also how these events are engraved in the minds of the people.

As a conclusion, the film emphasized the many intricacies of public and private experiences. The movie can be judged on a personal viewpoint depending on the values of the audience. Hiroshima Mon Amour offers an experience that is supremely more enthralling and profoundly moving. The film cannot be appealing per se, because of its unconventional way of presenting a very story known to many but we should learn to take this as an analytical discourse.

Ina_Partosa said...

Hiroshima Mon Amour (1959) is a dramatic romance directed by Alain Resnais and written by Marguerite Duras. It is set on World War II Hiroshima after the fatal atomic bombing that took away millions of lives in Japan. The movie begins with pictures of the war, most specifically the remnants of the Hiroshima bombing, along with the discourse between the two main characters playing on the background. The woman ( Emmanuele Riva) tells the man that she had seen the war and its effects on people. The man (Eiji Okuda) refutes her and tells her that she has not seen anything at all. After a night together, both characters fall in love with each other. The man persuades the woman that to stay in Japan yet, their pasts come before them, making it hard for them to be together.

For someone who is used to linear films with a beginning-climax-end pattern, Hiroshima Mon Amour may prove to be a strange and unfathomable film. It focuses only on the two characters, a French actress and a Japanese man, and their carnal encounters as they face the demons of their pasts. It works on a very slow pace, often leaving the viewers puzzled and wondering what is really going on. Moreover, the two characters converse in such an unusual way as the woman tries to relate her personal experiences and her fears of facing these experiences.

The film’s central theme is about memory and the pain that comes along with remembrance. The contrast between Nevers and Hiroshima tried to show the important role of our experiences and how these experiences comprise our identity. It tries to impress to us that the sum of all the events in our past is actually our totality. Simply put, pulling away any one of the incidents of the past will have a great impact on who we are in the present. Forgetting may be convenient for us because it takes away the pain and sorrow that we have to face but it is also dangerous because it takes away a part of us – the part that really matters, that which makes us human. Every memory, may it be private or public, is significant. Take for example Hiroshima; forgetting what happened in Hiroshima may also lead us to forgetting the ability of men to commit such atrocity, which in turn may result to a similar situation happening again. On the woman’s case, forgetting Nevers may take away all of the lessons that she had learned from the agony that she suffered from her first love and first heartbreak.

The beautifully crafted conversation between the two characters makes the viewer grieve for the woman as the message subtly creeps to them that whatever pain falls upon us, whatever misfortune we encounter, we will eventually move on and start a new beginning. The film tried to deliver this message when it portrayed the budding of a new plant from the ashes of the war. It signified a new life, a new beginning that may equally reachable for us if we only learn to come to terms with the past.

PARTOSA

lenggaleng said...

PART I

Considered as one of the most important films after the World War II and a cornerstone film of the French New Wave, Alan Resnais’ ‘Hiroshima Mon Amour’ is about a brief and intense love affair formed between a French actress and a Japanese architect in the setting of Hiroshima - years after it was bombed by the Americans during the World War II. Furthermore, the story revolves around the Hiroshima bombing and its impact to the people, and the past of the French actress, as she tells the story of her first love to the Japanese architect.

Looking at the themes found in this film, memory and oblivion are some of its central themes. It can be seen in the movie that just as the French actress wanted to forget the painful memory of her first love, the Japanese people of Hiroshima also wanted to forget the painful and miserable experience of the atomic bombing. Both the French actress and the Japanese can recall their sufferings and yet, they both want to forget them.

Though memory was the central topic of our class discussion about this movie, I wish to focus on the ‘identity politics’ that can be found in this film. Looking at the movie in a political perspective, identity politics plays a big part in Hiroshima Mon Amour. As past experiences that are part of memories shape who the French actress is today, these experiences are ‘social’ and contribute to the French actress’ identity.

According to Heywood (2007), “identity links the personal to the social, in seeing the individual as embedded in a particular cultural, social, institutional and ideological context”. Since the French actress was punished a long time ago for sleeping with the enemy, I think that that painful experience is not just a personal aspect but a social and cultural aspect as well. Punishing the French girl for sleeping with a German soldier served as a consequence to non-conformity with the French society’s rules and norms. Furthermore, I think that conforming to a society’s rules and norms is an affirmation of identifying one’s self with that particular society. Therefore, the act of sleeping with the German soldier is a question in itself as to who does the French girl really identify herself with. Moreover, Heywood (2007) says that “identity implies difference: an awareness of difference sharpens or clarifies our sense of identity”. As we all know, the Germans and the French have different cultures and thus, they have different identities. Prohibiting anyone from sleeping with the enemy or in other words, someone of different culture, could mean that the society is just protecting and preserving their ‘unique’ identity.

lenggaleng said...

PART II

In addition, one could notice the role of multiculturalism, an implication of a “positive endorsement of communal diversity”, portrayed in the movie. We see a French woman having an affair with a Japanese man who knows how to speak French, and that same French woman being in love with a German man. I think that this movie leaves no boundaries or limitations. I see the world in this movie as a borderless one. One proof of this is the shooting of an international film in Hiroshima about peace. We all know that peace is a virtue given importance to everyone, regardless of one’s race or culture. The fact that an international film is shot to raise awareness about peace all around the world in the movie implies that the world is moving towards a one society or one ‘global community’ that is multicultural.

All in all, as identity politics is portrayed in the movie, one can see a transformation of societies from being monocultural, trying to preserve their unique identity, to one that is multicultural. Furthermore, I would also like to note that according to Heywood (2007), “the most powerful factor underpinning the global significance of identity politics has been the growth of international migration, particularly since 1950s”. This could mean that there is the possibility that the growing recognition of identity politics had an impact on the making of the film, since it was made in 1959.

VILLEZA

References:

Heywood, A. (2007). Politics, New York City: Palgrave Macmillan.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0052893/

http://www.criterion.com/films/217

Nons said...

Is it better to forget the painful things we have experienced rather than remember all the pain we have suffered? This is the question that comes to mind after watching Alain Resnais’ Hiroshima Mon Amour (Hiroshima My Love). Released in 1959, the film portrays the struggle of a French actress and a Japanese architect who after indulging in a brief affair found themselves falling in love with each other. This would have been your normal cheesy romantic film (normal for our times that is) had it not been for the fact that both of them were already married. Then juxtapose it to the era that they were in; a decade and a half after the devastating Second World War. The world is still recovering from the devastating effects of the war and was knee deep into another (though not really acknowledged nor mentioned in the film). The setting of the film, Hiroshima—where the first of the two atomic bombs hit during the Second World War—is a perfect backdrop for the story. Why that is so will be later explained.

The film hinges on the pain that the female protagonist was wallowing in. In her late teens she had a relationship with a German soldier and was severely punished for it. She was considered a traitor in her community of Nevers, France and had to stay inside her house to avoid recrimination. Twenty years later, we see her still trying to come to grip with what she had experienced. Throughout the film, we see flashbacks of what had happened before and through her conversation with the guy feel the pain that she still suffers because of that event.

The parallelisms between her present and her past is even uncanny—we could even say that she was actually living her past affair with the German through her affair with Japanese man in the present. Both relationships are considered taboo: the first one a taboo considering that the German was an enemy of France and the second because of the fact that they were both married and are actually cheating on their spouses.

As mentioned above, Hiroshima was the perfect backdrop for the story. We see here a town that has suffered so much in the World War and then fifteen years later, we see it as a thriving community. It still wasn’t back to what it was before but we see it trying to heal itself and move on forward. There was even a museum in the place where pictures of the Japanese who were affected by the bomb were shown. Through this, we see that it is really painful to remember but through remembering we learn.


SUPERABLE

rotcivcumigad said...

As the reviews have said, the movie Hiroshima Mon Amour by Alain Resnais, is a difficult film to watch, moreover to extract its central theme to understand it. What I understand of the film however is that there is juxtaposition of the female actress’ experience of occupied France and to a lesser extent the experience of the male actor in grieving for his family who were victims of the Hiroshima bombing. But what I understand of the two different stories is that both try to relate personal pain and public pain although how different settings and stories maybe. It tries to focus on the effects of the experiences people go through may it be physically or psychologically. The film offers flashback vignettes of the events that deeply affected the lives of both actors however separately but in the end, it tried to clench them with questions of what is worth remembering and what is not, the issue of betrayal and mistake, as if trying to convey a message that public memory and private memory should be intertwined to form a true and meaningful story. The background in which events of our personal lives occur is important to explain the bigger picture of things and inversely the events in our personal lives gives color and importance to the public memory a people has.

Another subject of the film raises the question of authenticity and reconstruction of truth, what is real or reenactment, what you really felt or your description of how it felt. The opening scenes of the film is an exchange basically of the girl desperately convincing her lover that she felt the pain of Hiroshima while the other explains that she saw nothing of Hiroshima because she was not there. After the film though, I think the woman was right. It is basically because the world was at war and the terrors it brought do not differ may you be on opposite sides of the world. May it be in Hiroshima or in Nevers, the atmosphere of war reeks in the air, and with it comes all the terror people all around the world felt. The concept of public pain here is that it was not felt by only one nation, the whole world faced the atrocities of war and the effects of war on each and everyone is basically the same.

Undeniably, the most important theme the film tried to present is that the concept of peace may it be personal or public peace is very difficult to attain, and people will go at any length to try and achieve it. This is what the film is all about. To end the war and to attain peace, we approved of the slaughter of thousands of civilians while the rest of the world rejoiced. We were too exuberant that peace was within our grasp but was unmindful that we will start a new terror to another. The woman in the film also found the concept of peace as somewhat elusive. She had her own Hiroshima in Nevers, a prison of stone were she experienced all the horrors in her life. She only found peace in forgetting the place called Nevers by going to Paris and lead a new life. The peace of forgetting saved her, but she knows that remembering will jolt all of the pains it brought only to make her feel it again.

CUMIGAD

Kathrine said...

“Sometimes we have to avoid thinking about the problems life presents. Otherwise we'd suffocate.”- Elle.
Hiroshima Mon Amour revolves around a love affair set on a backdrop of story of war, gender issues and story of letting go and moving on. This film is about Elle, a French actress, and her erotic relationship with Lui, a Japanese architect. This seemingly erotic relationship is later revealed as one that has a dark and mysterious past. The stories of both leads are anchored on the memories of wars that haunted and troubled the life of Elle and brought an unremarkably imprint on the life of Lui.
Hiroshima Mon Amour is, on the surface, a story of two lovers caught up in war. It is a creatively weaved story about war and its effects on various individuals and the society, as a whole. The story opens with a narrative on the story of the bombing of Hiroshima, the different facets of people affected by the bombing and the slowly restructuring of Hiroshima to rise from ashes. The opening of the film shows two lovers intertwined in passionate lovemaking while different images of the bombing of Hiroshima are shown on the screen. This scene symbolically depicts the intersection between the public and the private wherein the lovemaking symbolizes the private domain of the war – the memories of war by different individuals- while the images of the bombing symbolizes the public domain of the war – the way the society remembers the painful events and the atrocities brought by war.
The story touched upon issues of gender, the inequalities felt by women during wartime, and the seeming disparity on how woman is viewed during the post-war era – fragile, weak and emotional. The film explicitly shows the apparent them of women subjugation during the war era, wherein when a woman sleeps with an enemy, she will be treated as trash. On a covert level, the film shows how women are perceived as the weak ones, fragile and emotional during the post-war era. The story line of how Elle was unable to move on and still dwell on her past is a symbolism of how post-war era sees women as weak compared to the mighty and unemotional men.
By and large, Hiroshima Mon Amour is a narrative that shows a debate between clinging on the past and letting go and moving on. It is a narrative between the debate on whether one would still cling on the past and remember everything that happened in the past or whether one would just let go and move on, however the downside of it is the idea that the memory will be forgotten and put to oblivion. In this story, the viewers are presented with two differing points of view – one is to remember everything that happen and learn from it, the other is to move on and forget the painful events that transpired. However, with these differing perspectives, are the shortcomings that come with it. The remembering of the trauma of the event leaves one to cling to the event and forget to move on. On the other hand, putting to oblivion the painful event leaves one to seemingly forget everything that happened, hence not gaining any lesson from it. It is with this realization that people must meet to a point that remembering painful events is not a bad thing so long as one will move on and tries to build a new life from the memories of that painful event.

Kathrine said...

Hiroshima Mon Amour is a movie about a love story between a French woman, an actress who came to Japan to shoot a movie about peace, and a Japanese architect. Both married, their love takes place in Hiroshima, a town devastated by the Second World War, after sharing a one-night stand with one another. But both characters are still constrained by their each own pasts. The woman is still caught up with her past love towards a German soldier which caused her to suffer humiliation by balding her hair because she slept with an enemy in her hometown in Nievers, France. While the man, still silently coping with the effects of the bombing of his hometown Hiroshima. Though he was not present during the bombing because he was enlisted in the Japanese army but his family was there in Hiroshima in that day.

But besides from being just a love story, the movie has more things to tell its viewers. First, the characters broke several social and cultural stereotypes that existed during the filming of this movie. The film showed us a unique kind of woman that existed during that time. This woman did not care with what others would say, showed in the film by being engaged with the enemy, the German soldier, and a married man, who is the Japanese architect. Therefore, this movie depicts female empowerment, in which the female lead finds and shapes her own identity by breaking all social norms that surrounds her. Also, the movie also broke racial boundaries by looking at a different kind of love story between two races. During this time, a western woman engaged in a relationship towards an Asian man is rare which made the movie different.

Most importantly, Hiroshima Mon Amour showed the viewers the negative effects of war by looking at the past experiences of the two lead characters. The first part of the film, showed raw footages of the effects of the Hiroshima bombing that ended the Second World War. Thousands of people died, damaged infrastructures, mutation caused by radiation, and many other ill-effects have surfaced due to the occurrence of this event. The war have caused trauma towards many people including the two lead characters which made it difficult for them to move on with their lives even many years after the Second World War.

By giving the out the negative effects of war, the film gives the viewers the importance of the maintenance of peace in our society. If peace reigns in our society, this world will be a lot better place. There will be no casualties, damaged infrastructures, and most important of all, there will be no innocent life that will be destroyed by such wars. This film is very helpful in awakening our leaders that being involved in such human damaging acts like wars will only give massive destruction in each social, cultural, economic and political status of each state. In the end of this movie, the viewers shall feel that we should all love one another and we must not let another Hiroshima to occur again.

LOUIE LISBOG

jolly said...

PART I:

“Place possess a manifest reality whereas [time] on the other hand possesses an obscure one, since it exists only as conceived by the mind.” –Simplicius, In Aristotelis Categorias Commentarium

Alain Resnais’ seminal French New Wave opus, Hiroshima mon amour (1959), is a complex tale of love and loss that takes viewers through a referential and metaphorical journey through the past and present amidst the context of post-World War II Japan. Based on Marguarite Duras’ novel of the same name, this artistic adaptation is difficult to understand at the surface level; but once put in a specific reading, would compel viewers to question the reality and authenticity of both time and space (or in this case, place) from an unorthodox perspective.

Basically the film follows the story of two nameless lovers, a French actress doing an anti-war film in Hiroshima (Emmanuelle Riva) and a Japanese architect (Eiji Okada), after their one-night tryst. Despite the forbidden romance, the couple still agrees to spend the last hours of the Elle’s stay with each other—from hotel rooms to cafés, desolate streets to sinister hotel lobbies. It is through their metaphorical dialogue then are viewers transported to Elle’s painful past in Nevers, and shifted to back to the present of Lui’s company in Hiroshima.

I would have to agree with the earlier comments of this entry. Perhaps, one of the greatest themes presented in the film is the irretrievable history both in the public and private domain. It is memory that constitutes our identities as persons, as it is collective memory as people that constitute our character as a nation. This is seen not just aesthetically, with the beautiful blending of footages from France to Japan and from the past and present; but it is also made apparent through the non-linear narrative of Elle’s experience in Nevers.

jolly said...

PART II:

Somehow, the film manages to blur the line between the public and private domain such that one cannot be separated from the other: the atrocities of the Hiroshima bombing, for instance, cannot be disjointed from the atrocities of Elle’s emotional, psychological, and social breakdown from her first love (who happens to be the enemy, a German). It is possible to put these factors in the context of war, such that these two can be intermeshed. If the public pain of the atomic bomb lingered in Hiroshima, as apparent in hair loss of the survivors or disabled newborns of those who experienced the aftermath, for instance, then the private pain of sleeping with “the enemy” and dealing with the social and even psychological consequences still persisted no matter how Elle tried to restrain it. The exquisitely-shot opening sequence perfectly encapsulates the connection: we first see the body of writhing couple covered in an ash of (radioactive?) dust, washed away by rain, then gently morphs into perspired bodies locked in love-making. It becomes apparent, even from the first scene that we cannot forget what happened in the past, no matter how horrible it is, because it becomes part of who you are.



The film is not an easy one to digest. If one were not careful to pay attention to the details, it would be difficult to appreciate the underlying messages that Resnais and Duras were trying to convey. There are the stylistic elements that purposely confuse viewers: techniques such as non-linear chronology, heavy use of flashbacks, authenticity of the Hiroshima footages as well as the beautifully written but metaphor-laden screenplay which Riva and Okada delivered excellently. But it should be noted that in film, these elements are not accidental as they help give meaning and form to what it is trying to convey. In this case, the idea of persistent memory and elusiveness of reality is put in question through these techniques.

Overall, Resnais’ Hiroshima mon amour is a classic, complex film that explores the concept of public and private memory through the forbidden love story of a French and Japanese national in the setting of the war aftermath. This might only be one aspect of the film; as it is highly subject to various interpretations. With this one can say that the beauty of it also lies in the fact that the film is subject to many “truths”—that, or various interpretations of it, just as the film also raises in its themes.

REFERENCE:
http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/hiroshima_mon_amour/#
http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3806/is_199811/ai_n8819025/


PADILLA

bjc said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bjc said...

Joseph Stalin, premier of the Soviet Union during WWII and all-around megalomaniac, once remarked that "the loss of a single man is a tragedy; the loss of millions but a statistic". For normal and sane people, this (mis)quote on death is rather grim and unsettling, yet behind this sullen assertion of outlook is where we see the very essence of this film- it's all a matter of perspective.

Quite fittingly, the film is set in the backdrop of the Hiroshima Bombing, an episode in history that even now still divides opinion. Was it really necessary? Or was it a catastrophic mistake? Did the immediate deaths of hundreds of thousands of people justify the prevention of millions more? Again, the answers to these questions really depend on where you stand, and this is most especially highlighted by the film's dramatis personæ, with both of them possessing divergent viewpoints and attitudes regarding this event. Who then holds the ascendancy in insight, of what is true and what is authentic? We are left with this question unresolved, but not entirely. It's made clear in this film that history, at least for the most part, is still written by the victors.

Our perception of truth and reality shapes our personal notions of morality- of what is right or wrong. This idea is highlighted in the film's other backdrop- the story about Nevers. All things aside, it's a classic tale of love, and for all we know love is a beautiful thing. If that be the case, why then was the love between a French village girl and a German footsoldier forbidden? If true love leads to the greatest happiness of the individual, are we not morally compelled to allow such things to happen? And again, if asked, we would have different answers and different viewpoints. In the film, this love story ultimately led to tragedy, which in the film emphasizes the point that it's almost always that the real trumps the ideal, which, unlike what Jesus of Nazareth teaches us, you really can't love your enemy.

Which brings me to my final point- that to consider certain ideas and experiences as superior to others entails a conscious effort on our part to shape our own biases and perspectives which, in turn, would greatly influence the way we look, feel, and remember certain phenomena. Ultimately, this cerebral process becomes a political transaction which involves us framing and interpreting the different perceptions, ideas, viewpoints and truths made available for our perusal, choosing to accept and consume some, while putting down and rejecting the others.

All in all, beyond its complexity and postmodernist undercurrents, this film inspires us to think hard about the ideas that we believe and in the things that what we truly value.

Was it an enjoyable film? Again, it's all a matter of perspective.

COSTALES

Daben said...

Why should you remember the things that hurt you the most? Why should you forget the memories that built your identity? These are just some of the questions that one should ask after watching the film “Hiroshima Mon Amour.” Directed by Alain Resnais and written by Marquerite Duras, the movie presented two different ways of looking at the effects of the Hiroshima bombing in 1945, public and personal. The movie also showed the different circumstances that occur in a war-torn society. The movie was not an easy watch because even though there are some hyped moments, the events were relatively stable somewhat leaning into documentary style of film.

The male character portrayed the public view of pain in the war. Not being in Hiroshima during the time of the bombing, he was not able to personally suffer the consequences of the bomb drop. Even though he was not hurt directly, his family was still wiped-out by the drop. His people were killed and his country was devastated because of the drop. But in the movie, we can see that he was still strong enough to be able to pursue his life after the disaster that occurred in him and his people. He was still composed enough to even help the female character in her troubles. He is forcing the female character to be able to forget the memories of the war in order for her to move on in her life despite the tragedy she experienced. But the movie was not able to show the damage that the male character was dealt with. All the audience know is that his family, friends, and people were killed. This left the movie hanging on how much he is suffering giving the people a hard time even sympathizing with him.

On the other hand, the female character depicted the pain suffered by an individual in war times. Being caught making-love with the enemy of her country, she was tortured by her own people, leading her into insanity and desperation. She was persecuted, imprisoned and shamed by the people around her. The people even shaved her hair to show her status in the society. This events plus the killing of her lover pushed her to her mental limits giving her the attitude of being unable to control herself when she is experiencing extreme emotions. She was hurting herself just to remember her lover, her first love. After running away from Nevers, her native town, she went to Paris to start a new life. In Paris, she was able to find a job, a husband and a new beginning. But the Hiroshima incident made her curious so she went to Japan. Seeing the replication of the effects of the bomb drop, her memories of Nevers went back. He met the male character in Hiroshima. Feeling the refreshed memories of her tormented past, she was able to speak out her feelings. This showed the audience how she suffered during the war. The movie was able to portray well her hurt and made the people to fully empathize with her.

Is it better to forget one’s past? Is it good to remember one’s torments? Is private pain more devastating than public pain? Will people still want another war? These are the questions to be asked after contemplating on the film. This movie shows that whatever kind of hurting a person is suffering, he/she can still move on and have a new beginning.

Mendoza, A.