Hiroshima Mon Amour (1959)

hiroshima mon amour poster 1959 movie
9.5 Overall Score
Story: 9/10
Acting: 10/10
Visuals: 10/10

Great composition, good cast, interesting story

Not always an easy movie to dissect

Movie Info

Movie Name: Hiroshima Mon Amour

Studio: Argos Films

Genre(s): Drama/Romance

Release Date(s):  May 8, 1959 (Cannes)/June 10, 1959 (France)/June 20, 1959 (Japan)/May 16, 1960 (US)

MPAA Rating: Not Rated

hiroshima mon amour emmanuelle reva eiji okada

Your pillow talk of nuclear fallout and burning bodies needs some work…

A French woman (Emmanuelle  Reva) meets a Japanese man (Eiji Okada) in Hiroshima and spends a night making love and speaking of the war.  The woman is in town making a film and will soon be headed back to France, but the man wishes her to stay longer.  Spending the few hours they have together, they talk of loss and first loves…but time is ticking away and memories are fleeting.

Directed by Alain Resnais, Hiroshima Mon Amour is a French-Japanese dramatic romance.  The film premiered at Cannes and received strong reviews from critics.  It frequently is listed in “Best of” film lists and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.

Hiroshima Mon Amour is one of those intimidating movies.  It is widely lauded but also an art house picture in the New-Wave and avant-garde category.  This means that it has the potential to be odd and difficult to digest.  While the film does require analysis, the core emotions of the movie aren’t that difficult to take in which gives it some of its universal appeal.

hiroshima mon amour tea shop emmanuelle reva eiji okada

Ok…no more talk of nuclear war. Let’s talk about happy things like your dead German boyfriend and the insanity it caused

The movie was one of the early movies to really tackle the aftermath of what occurred in Hiroshima, but it uses it as more of an allegory for war itself.  The destruction and loss has a lasting effect.  The war was “over” with Hiroshima, but the pain lasted on.  The woman had a secret German lover during the war who was killed and the pain of that loss not only drove her mad but also made her an outcast.  The war was destructive and the union of the two characters demonstrates the divide…the intense passion isn’t enough.

The movie is an actor’s film.  It is largely composed of Emmanuelle Reva and Eiji Okada talking and voicing over images.  The risqué nature of the film (the two characters having an affair) meant that the characters had to be a little more open for experimentation.  It is also interesting to learn that Eiji Okada didn’t know French like his character and he had to learn most of his lines phonetically.

hiroshima mon amour emmanuelle reva eiji okada train station woman

I love this little old woman

The movie is beautifully shot.  Despite often just using two shots, the shots are framed perfectly.  You can almost go through and pick any shot in Hiroshima Mon Amour, and it is framed and constructed with precision.  The film is also noted for using actual footage and images from Hiroshima after the bomb was dropped (it actually started out as a documentary).

Hiroshima Mon Amour is very artsy, and it is heavy in its content and style.  It is the type of movie that has themes that can be dissected for ages with no clear answers and rebutted by another critic.  It does feel a bit more accessible than some later avant-garde films that really start to become stylized, but it still isn’t an easy film.  The idea of two people meeting and needing what the other can provide at that movement in time feels very real.  Like Casablanca (which the characters are somewhat supposed to echo), the best decision isn’t always the easiest or right decision…it is what must be done.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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