Written by: Michael Den Boer on January 24th, 2016
Theatrical Release Date: France / Japan, 1959
Director: Alain Resnais
Writer: Marguerite Duras
Cast: Emmanuelle Riva, Eiji Okada, Stella Dassas, Pierre Barbaud, Bernard Fresson
DVD Release Date: January 18th, 2016
Approximate Running Time: 87 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1 Aspect Ratio
Rating: 12 (UK)
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono French
DVD Release: StudioCanal
Region Encoding: Region 2 PAL (UK)
Retail Price: £9.99 (UK)
Synopsis: A French actress and a Japanese architect have an affair while she is in Hiroshima filming an antiwar film.
Hiroshima Mon Amour was directed by Alain Resnais whose other notable films include, Night and Fog, Last Year at Marienbad and Je t’aime je t’aime. Key collaborators on Hiroshima Mon Amour include cinematographer Sacha Vierny (Belle de Jour), composers Georges Delerue (Contempt) and Giovanni Fusco (L’Eclisse) and screenwriter Marguerite Duras (Mademoiselle, The Lover).
At the heart of this film is story about two strangers who fall in love and the time they share together over the next forty-eight hours. At first glance these two characters appear to be mirror images what one would expect from a love story. And yet the end result is unlike any love film that has come before or since its arrival.
Narrative wise their journey’s do not begin in a traditional way and even the actual moment when they first meet is never fully revealed. Instead each character tells the other character their life story and these moments from their past is what make up the bulk of the dialog. The story takes place in Hiroshima and both characters even reflect upon where they were when the H-Bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. Another area of that makes up the bulk of their discussion is when they talk about former lovers whom they have lost.
The film opens with stark imagery of the destruction that was inflicted upon Hiroshima during world war II and from there it makes the most unlikely transition to two lovers embracing. This transition is just one of many similar moments which use juxtaposing to great effect. Another strength of this film is its use of metaphors and nowhere is this more evident than the way this film symbolically uses its central location Hiroshima.
And when it comes to this film’s narrative simplicity is the world that best sums it up. Also in regards to the film’s narrative, though there are two characters which populate the bulk of this film’s narrative. It is ultimately the female character’s point of view which guides the film’s narrative.
From a production stand point there is not an area where this film does not excel and then some. With sight and sound playing a huge role in the story at hand. Another area where this film leaves an undeniable mark is its exceptional score which does a remarkable job setting and maintaining the mood. And not to be overlooked are the performances from this film’s leading lady Emmanuelle Riva (Léon Morin, Priest) in the role of this film’s protagonist and Eiji Okada (Woman in the Dunes) in the role of the man the protagonist is having an affair with. Ultimately Hiroshima Mon Amour is a one of a kind cinematic experience that gets better every time you revisit it.
Hiroshima Mon Amour is presented in its 1.37:1 aspect ratio. The transfer for this release uses the same 4k restoration that the Criterion Collection used for their 2015 Blu-Ray and DVD releases. Black and contrast levels look consistently strong throughout and image look crisp. Also there are no issues with compression and edge enhancement is kept in check.
This release comes with one audio option, a Dolby Digital mono mix in French and removable English have been included for this release. The audio sounds clean, clear and balanced throughout.
Extras for this release include, a restoration featurette and an interview with actress Emmanuelle Riva who discusses her audition for director Alain Resnais, the difficulties that arose due to the film limited budget and collaborating with screenwriter Marguerite Duras. Overall Hiroshima Mon Amour gets a strong release from StudioCanal.
Note: This film is also being released by StudioCanal on Blu-Ray.