Alain Resnais February 25 – March 20, 2011 Presented with support from the Cultural Services of the French Embassy (New York) and L’Institut Français Hiroshima, mon amour

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Hiroshima mon Amour is concerned ultimately with memory and its tenuous relationship to history, the tenuousness expressed most strongly in the early sequences in which the Frenchwoman’s second-hand observations on the searing episode of Hiroshima are ritualistically denied by her Japanese lover. (“Tu n’as vu rien a Hiroshima.”) … We in the West would like to pretend that we grieved for the victims of Hiroshima in the spring of ‘45, or that we have come to grieve for them since in some special manner apart from the convenient symbolism of a name for a placard. It is this bland involvement with Man as a tortured abstraction which is explicitly rejected in Hiroshima mon amour.
Once the two lovers are uncoupled from their symbolic union under the settling atomic dust of Hiroshima, their historical direction is reverse. Having denied the actress access to the sealed events of Hiroshima, the Japanese invades her recollections of her ill-fated love for a German soldier during the Occupation on the traumatic French town of Nevers, where death, disgrace, and madness create the luminous perversity which now shines through the night in Hiroshima. From this moment of reversal, Hiroshima mon amour rises to its greatest heights in the visual, verbal, and musical counterpoint of mental exploration. Time and place defy the objective logic of sequence and duration as the parallelisms of German soldiers and Japanese architect, Nevers-Paris and Hiroshima, past and present, intersect tentatively in an ambiguous ending in which actress and architect, now immersed in the identities of Nevers and Hiroshima, confront each other as two distant accidents of history.
Although Emmanuelle Riva’s portrayal of the French actress provides the rare illusion of continuous existence beyond the ellipses of the cinema, and the script of Marguerite Duras soars to new levels of narratage, Hiroshima mon amour is above all else the personal testament of its director, Alain Resnais. With his first feature film, Resnais has made the most important contribution to realizable film aesthetics since Citizen Kane. Where Welles used Kane to demolish the expressive neutrality of camera and sound track without departing from the realm of reason, Resnais has created a viable cinematic form for liberating the associational imagery of the mind without transforming the screen into an optical ordeal. Even if it is too early to tell where Hiroshima mon Amour will stand in the artistic evolution of the cinema, and let us hope this is the beginning rather that the culmination, no other film of our time so graphically reflects the alienation of individual sensibility from the brutal process of history.

Museum of the Moving Image is grateful for the generous support of numerous corporations, foundations, and individuals. The Museum is housed in a building owned by the City of New York and receives significant support from the following public agencies: the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs; New York City Economic Development Corporation; New York State Council on the Arts; Institute of Museum and Library Services; National Endowment for the Humanities; National Endowment for the Arts; Natural Heritage Trust (administered by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation).
Copyright © 2011, Museum of the Moving Image

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