Director: Alain Resnais
Writer: Marguerite Duras
With: Emmanuelle Riva, Eiji Okada, Stella Dassas
Production: France, Japan
Elle is a French actress shooting a movie in Hiroshima. She meets Lui, a married Japanese architect. Together they share their opinions about the war, about life and love, until all of their past is being unraveled.
This movie and its story have a strong sentimental base. At the beginning the war pictures and the words that accompany them are breathtaking. We are being introduced to a couple that met in Hiroshima. The details of their relationship and their background are being slowly revealed.
First everything is about the war. As the story goes the focus changes and goes to the couple’s past, particularly Elle’s past. Then, she will slowly expose herself to buried memories and feelings. The strong and confident French actress will become a scared little girl and nothing can save her. She is exposed to love, sentiments, and strong feelings. Slowly she will remember that once she did fell all these again. The turbulence that the past provokes makes her act in complete denial of the present.
The constant denial of Elle’s lover depicts the general denial of such a destructive war that makes your heart doom. The power of her own story is so magnificent that deletes somehow the struggle of their departure (she has to go back to France to her husband, he is married in Hiroshima).
Several images scattered create the essence of memories tried to be forgotten through the years, the alcohol though, manages to withdraw them from the oblivion darkness to the realistic surface of the present. He listens carefully as the moments of grief and despair she recalls appear, pretending to be the lover she lost once and for all.
All these information she reveals, do expose why she has lived what she has lived, but not in any case justify the actions of her surroundings towards her. Her betrayal is so powerful her own parents lock her in this basement; she is being constantly humiliated for this unfortunate – but so fortunate for her still – affair with the German soldier during the Nazi occupation.
She loved him with all of her human senses. She never regrets her love for him and now this Japanese man makes her relive this strength in her soul. He makes her remember the true love she once experienced and so tragically lost. She is deadly afraid that all these will happen again. Scared and alone she starts drifting through Hiroshima, trying to settle her thoughts, trying to put her own feelings in order.
He is following her, trying to convince her to stay with him, but she – like a dog experiencing a traumatic incident – believes that such a strong love will result to her “imprisonment” again. The loss, the emptiness, the grief of losing a lover were so intense, she never wants to live it again. The unclear ending proves not only that the destinations does not even matter, but also that strong feelings can overcome any type of fear ever existed in one’s mind and soul.
Yes she probably stayed, we don’t know for how long, we will never know, but at least she managed to talk about this traumatic experience, to let it out, there exposed, ready to be judged or dismissed. She managed to somehow accept it deep in her heart, without accusing or regretting, but only sharing it, reliving it and finally discarding it to permanent oblivion.