210 - Hiroshima, Mon Amour (1959)

Theatrical Poster
Source: Wikipedia
It's about high time I actually wrote a review that had something to do with the reason I set up this blog in the first place. That's right, it's back to Empire's 5-star 500.

I must admit I had been putting off continuing the challenge. I had watched both Hiroshima, Mon Amour and His Girl Friday before Christmas but I never got around to reviewing them. As such, I realised that I had to re-watch them both in order to properly write an objective review for each.

Expressive artistic films of a certain movement are not my forte. I am also not a big fan of slow moving films that don't get to the point quickly (or, at least, films that I can't see the point of). So, it is with great trepidation that I sat down to watch Hiroshima, Mon Amour once more.

In truth, I understood Hiroshima, Mon Amour better the second time around, probably because I had a vague idea of what to expect. A Japanese man and a French woman who are both married meet in Hiroshima and have a brief affair. During their couple of days together both reflect on the memories of the war during which the man lost his family in the atomic attacks and she lost her German lover in her childhood town of Neves.

The film's opening sequence is certainly one of the most harrowing that I have ever experienced in my life. I'm assuming that it is mixed in with footage from the aftermath of the 1945 Hiroshima bombings and some of the malformed bodies with burnt skin are just horrific. Even without the protagonist explaining what his family experienced, the audience is left with no doubt. At no point though is any blame attached.

By comparison, her issue seems slightly pathetic - although this does show that she was lucky to be away from Japan and that the war affected people in different ways. She goes mad with grief over seeing her German lover die, and this is cleverly portrayed as she talks to her Japanese lover as though he was her childhood sweetheart.

Hiroshima Mon Amour is definitely not a film I'd recommend to everyone. For starters, it's set in Japan, spoken in French with English subtitles and is filmed in black and white - and that's even before reaching the potentially upsetting subject matter. Those seeking entertainment, look elsewhere. If you are interested in both Japan and the effects of the Second World War then this one's for you.