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Film / Hiroshima Mon Amour

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Hiroshima Mon Amour is a 1959 French film directed by Alain Resnais, shot in Hiroshima, Japan.

A French actress (Emmanuelle Riva) and a Japanese man who speaks fluent French are having an affair in Hiroshima. He is a businessman who lives there while she is in town to shoot an anti-war movie. The film opens with a conversation between the two in which they meditate on the horrific damage done to the city by the atomic bomb in 1945. After that long introductory sequence, the woman leaves to finish filming her movie. They meet again after she's done, and have dinner in a restaurant. The woman, who is scheduled to go back to France the next day, then tells the man about her wartime romance with a German soldier in occupied France.

Hiroshima Mon Amour is regarded as one of the first examples of the French New Wave that made such a strong impression on cinema in The '60s.

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Tropes:

  • Bald Woman: The woman, after she has her head shaved by force following Liberation in 1944. (This was done quite frequently in Real Life to French women who were known to have slept with Germans.)
  • Contrast Montage: Towards the end, a montage contrasts new Hiroshima—everything built after 1945, looking new and glitzy with lots of neon signs—with the old stone buildings and cobblestone streets of Nevers.
  • Diagonal Billing: Emmanuelle Riva and Eiji Okada receive this in the opening credits, though posters invariably give Riva either top billing or sole billing.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: Takes place over 36 hours or so before the woman's scheduled departure from Japan.
  • Eye Scream: A Real Life example, as stock footage shows a doctor in 1945 using clamps to lift open a woman's eyelids, showing her burnt-out husk of an eye.
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  • Faux Fluency: Eiji Okada did not speak French. He learned all his lines phonetically.
  • Flashback: Many, starting with some very short ones and then going to longer ones, as the woman tells her story of her doomed affair with the German soldier. The first one comes when the man drums his fingers and she has a flash memory of the soldier's fingers twitching in a similar manner as he lay dying.
  • Gorn: A fair amount of Real Life gorn in the opening sequence, courtesy of newsreel footage of casualties of Hiroshima—blackened corpses, people with skin peeling off, babies with birth defects, etc.
  • Match Cut: A series of match cuts shows the woman leaping over a stone fence, then a wooden fence, then a wire fence as she runs to greet her soldier lover in France.
  • Mighty Whitey and Mellow Yellow: With a gender flip. One of the themes is the Western white woman's inability to truly deal with Hiroshima.
  • Minimalist Cast: The man and the woman have almost all the lines. An old lady who chats up the man at the train station gets a couple of lines, and another man who tries to pick up the woman also has a couple of lines (in English). That's it.
  • Nameless Narrative: No names are given for the man, the woman, or anyone else.
  • Neon City: The bright lights of the new and rebuilt Hiroshima are used in a Contrast Montage with the female lead's hometown in France, which is full of old stone buildings.
  • No Ending: The woman, sitting on the bed in her room, tells the man that his name is Hiroshima. The man tells the woman that her name is Nevers (her home town in France, where she met the soldier). The End. No resolution as to whether she will stay in Japan with him or go home.
  • Really Gets Around: Or so the woman claims.
    "I like guys. My morals are dubious, you know."
  • Scenery Gorn: Footage from 1945 proves that dropping an atomic bomb on a town does not make it look good.
  • Stock Footage: Plenty in the opening scene as the man and the woman talk about the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima.
  • Talking in Bed: The long opening, where the man and the woman talk about the Hiroshima bombing, consists of an extended shot of them canoodling in bed, intercut with clips from 1945 of the ruins and of casualties.
  • Toplessness from the Back: Seen multiple times from Riva as the woman and the man lounge in bed.
  • Traumatic Haircut: The woman gets her hair shaved by force after the Resistance liberates Nevers in 1944.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Both the man and the woman have spouses.
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