In the final year of World War II, mankind did something which, in retrospect, seems almost unthinkable. The dropping of an atomic bomb on Hiroshima in August 1945, resulting in the instant death of 80,000 people (many more were injured or subsequently died from the fallout), highlighted why we should never play god. Originally commissioned to make a documentary on the subject, Alain Resnais used it as the backdrop for his first narrative feature: Hiroshima Mon Amour.
A man (Eiji Okada) and a women (Emmanuelle Riva) meet by chance in Hiroshima, some years after the horrific event happened. She is a French actress from Paris who is making an anti-war film. He is a Japanese architect who is also involved in politics. She grew up during the war in occupied Nevers and was ostracised for having a relationship with a young German soldier. He was away from his hometown, serving in the Japanese army when the bomb hit. Across the course of 36 hours, they discuss their pasts and the connections to their presents and futures.
Widely seen as the one of the major influences of and on the French new wave, Hiroshima Mon Amour is a powerful romantic drama and treatise of trauma. Using non-linear flashbacks and using documentary filmmaking devices, Resnais creates a romantic drama which is both a snapshot of history and a star-crossed love story. In many ways, Hiroshima Mon Amour is as much an anti-war film of Night of Fog. A profoundly moving narrative which tackles themes such as grief and remembrance.
• New 4K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack
• Audio commentary by film historian Peter Cowie
• Interviews with director Alain Resnais from 1961 and 1980
• Interviews with actor Emmanuelle Riva from 1959 and 2003
• New interview with film scholar François Thomas, author of L’atelier d’Alain Resnais
• New interview with music scholar Tim Page about the film’s score
• Revoir Hiroshima . . . , a 2013 program about the film’s restoration
• New English subtitle translation
• PLUS: An essay by critic Kent Jones and excerpts from a 1959 Cahiers du cinéma roundtable discussion about the film
Hiroshima Mon Amour is released on Blu-ray as part of the Criterion Collection in the UK on 3 January.