Thursday, May 28, 2009
Hiroshima mon amour: Time, the destroyer of memory
Alain Renais has created a masterpiece on philosophical issues of time and memory. A film that even when is seen today 50 years after it’ s creation remains ever so powerful and painfully true.
A French woman –an actress-goes to Hiroshima to do a film on peace. There she meets a Japanese architect with who she has an one night stand. Soon both of them realize that their erotic adventure is more serious than they first thought and they become increasingly bonded. The woman relates to the man her first love affair. When she was young and while France was under German occupation, she fell in love with a German soldier who was killed. Her home town and parents considered her a traitor. They shaved her hair and locked her in the basement. Later on her parents gave her some money and told her to leave her hometown.
The film moves back and forth in time according firstly to the newsreels that demonstrated the destruction of Hiroshima and then according to the memories the woman narrates. The love affair between a French woman and a Japanese man unites the enemies of the Second World War proving that fifteen years later old animosities have faded away. Moreover through the different ethnicities of the heroes the spectator has the opportunity to witness how two completely different cultures were affected by the story of Hiroshima.
As the film being filmed in the actual film Hiroshima mon amour is a story that advocates peace, through the demonstration of the destruction that the war brings. The film works in a much more complicated and significant way than just transmitting this almost placid message.
Both the woman and the man are symbols of a tragic loss. She is the symbol of a private loss of love. He is the symbol of a public loss of life and faith in science and humanity that the town of Hiroshima represents.
The movie demonstrates the power of time over memory. The architect and the entire world should always remember the tragic example of Hiroshima but as time goes by the memory of the events fade. In the same a way the intensity of the first love and the pain of losing her lover is progressively forgotten by the woman. The film proves that no matter how important or how intense some things are in our lives time has an enormous power in corrupting memory and feelings. In the end we are left with empty stories and symbols that have lost all the emotional correlations that they should have. Unfortunately in the end all we can do is just remember those empty symbols and mechanically- with no true feeling- connect them with their true meaning.