Remembering and Forgetting Love in Hiroshima #CriterionBlogathon

Hiroshima Mon Amour coverRecent history has left us with many memorials to human destruction. None as evocative as Auschwitz and Hiroshima. Saying those names alone is enough. They carry a weight – scars that cannot be easily erased.

Yet.

People who visit these places of memory experience something very particular, discombobulating. These places – where atrocities occurred – live on. Nature thrives, birds sing, people live right there. We feel they shouldn’t. Life should have stopped. Everything should have frozen those many years ago.

Life goes on.

And in our daily living we forget words like Hiroshima and Auschwitz.

 

hma-resnais“You saw nothing in Hiroshima. Nothing.” These are the opening lines to the film Hiroshima Mon Amour. Is it possible to really see these places of great human suffering? Can they be anything more than museums to be consumed by the eye?

Hiroshima Mon Amour (1959) is a 90-minute French film from Alain Resnais, with text by Marguerite Duras. It stars Emmanuelle Riva as a French actress and Eiji Okada as a Japanese architect, who meet in Hiroshima and have a brief but fervent love affair.

 

Hiroshima Mon Amour is one of the most beautiful films I have seen. Every time I watch it, I discover more layers and nuances I hadn’t noticed before. The images and WORDS haunt me. They follow me and will not leave me alone. This film is pure poetry. Duras is a talented writer and her words have power.

hiroshima destoryingWhat is interesting, Resnais also made a film about Auschwitz called Night and Fog (1955). The two films are quite different. Night and Fog is a documentary, while Hiroshima Mon Amour is… well, it’s labeled as drama and romance, but that seems inadequate.

What is Hiroshima Mon Amour?

At heart it is a love story of two people meeting and falling in love in the most unlikely place. A place that should have frozen. A place that should not be conducive to love.

Yet.

masterHiroshimamonamour8

It is also a story about remembering and forgetting. We should remember the atrocities of Hiroshima. We want to remember. But how can you remember the inconceivable? The unimaginable? How can you remember without experiencing? And even then, is it possible?

“Just as in love this illusion exists, this illusion of being able never to forget, so I was under the illusion that I would never forget Hiroshima. Just as in love.”

hiroshima-mon-amour-alain-resnais-emmanuelle-riva-1

 

The beauty of the story is its simplicity. The beauty of the writing is its sparseness, brevity, and use of repetition. The lines are hauntingly beautiful.

 

hiroshima bored

Memory is malleable, and time its greatest enemy. With time, the memory of a love once felt changes from something enormous to something small and difficult to recall.

“I don’t even remember his hands very well… The pain, I still remember the pain a little.”

“Yes, tonight, I remember. But one day I won’t remember it any more. Not at all. Nothing.”

“I’ll forget you! I’m forgetting you already! Look at how I’m forgetting you!”

hiroshima forgettingI can’t help but feel this film is a warning. A warning about the dangers of forgetting and the impossibility of remembering.

I can’t help but think about what is happening currently and the danger of not remembering the past. Watch this film and see what hate does. Watch this film and see what only love can express. Time has made us forget the pain and suffering of war. We need to remember.

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This post is part of the Criterion Blogathon hosted by Kristina at Speakeasy, Aaron at Criterion Blues, and Ruth at Silver Screenings. Make sure to check out other participants. The Blogathon takes place over six days, Monday, November 16th through Saturday, November 21st.

 

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22 thoughts on “Remembering and Forgetting Love in Hiroshima #CriterionBlogathon

  1. Sounds like a really interesting movie. Have you ever read the book Black Rain by Masuji Ibuse? It’s a distant account of several characters (based on real people) that observe and then live and die after the events of Hiroshima. You might like it. I remember many in my university hesitant to open the book willingly–to knowingly expose themselves, as Americans, to the horrors of what we wrought–but the story was careful to not be too visceral, to not rip the reader apart. Rather, the work takes you right through, almost an old guide to help the new generation understand.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you. I definitely tried to give the feel of the film. It is a pleasure to join such a great blogathon. It’s fun to think about films from a writer’s perspective.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post– It’s hard to capture the mood of this one and you did a nice job, it’s interesting how the enormity of the suffering and aftermath is here told through a simple, small relationship. Thanks so much for being part of this event 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I loved this post, Ula. I remember watching this beautiful film for my final year dissertation which raised the question: “does a building have a memory?”. I remember using many examples including this film but I can’t for the life of me find an online copy of my dissertation to share a certain passage with you. I’ll try my luck at another time.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Beautiful post. It was very poetic, much like the film. We recently podcasted about this, and it was my first time seeing it. This is one of the rare film experiences that are so moving that they reinvigorate the passion. It is a deeply rich film that juggles terror, tourism and preconceived notions about love. You’ve encapsulated that well here. Thanks so much for participating!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: Criterion Blogathon: Day 2 Recap | Criterion Blues .....

  6. I came across this film when my script tutor on my creative writing MA said if there were only two films to watch to teach you how to write then this and Chrus Nolan’s Memento. This is both stunning and disturbing. Lovely lovely homage Ula

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Pingback: Best of 2015 and Plans for 2016 | confessions of a broccoli addict

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