A French actress (Emmanuelle Riva) recalls her traumatic wartime past while having an affair with a Japanese architect in Alain Resnais' masterful meditation on time, memory and forgetfulness.


TIFF Cinematheque

Hiroshima mon amour

Alain Resnais

Alain Resnais's epochal masterpiece elicited daunting claims from its first appearance at the Cannes Film Festival in 1959, where it overshadowed the films in competition. Eric Rohmer pondered "whether Hiroshima mon amour was the most important film since the war, the first modern film of sound cinema," establishing the position from which later critics rarely diverged: "Hiroshima mon amour has been as important in the development of film art as Citizen Kane" (James Monaco).

Resnais's fragmented portrait of an unnamed French actress (Emmanuelle Riva) visiting postwar Hiroshima who has an affair with a Japanese architect (Eiji Okada) that evokes painful memories of her first love, a German soldier shot on Liberation Day, addresses themes that were to become the director's preoccupations: memory and willed forgetfulness, the subjective nature of time, and the imminence of death. Resnais and Marguerite Duras (who replaced an errant Françoise Sagan as scriptwriter) aspired to replicate the workings of consciousness with a nonlinear structure and musical editing. Resnais respected Duras's writing so much, "he used a stopwatch to synchronise the tempo of his tracking shots to the moderato cantabile rhythm of the Durassian sentence," according to producer Anatole Dauman.

This 4K restoration, overseen by Resnais's cinematographer Renato Berta, has painstakingly corrected dupey and damaged footage, reviving long blurred or obscured details while scrupulously maintaining the contrasting tones and grains of the film's two geographical and temporal settings (Hiroshima/Nevers; present/past). The glimmering cinders — suggesting both nuclear residue and the ashes of time — that settle on intertwined flesh in Hiroshima's famous opening images have never appeared so beautiful or ominous.


The restoration in 4K was carried out from the original negative by Argos Films, the Technicolor Foundation, the Groupama Gan Foundation and the Cineteca di Bologna, with the support of the CNC. Special thanks to Argos Films and Tamasa Distribution. Special thanks to The Japan Foundation, Toronto.


Sun Sep 08

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