Hiroshima, mon amour (1959)

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Does the night never end in Hiroshima? The conversation between a Japanese architect (Eiji Okada) and a French actress (Emmanuelle Riva) in Hiroshima 15 years after the end of World War II. The couple were adulterous lovers overnight and now are friends talking, trusting each other with intimate stores. They recount, over the course of many hours, previous romances and life experiences. The two intertwine their stories about the past with pondering the devastation wrought by the atomic bomb dropped on the city… Novelist Marguerite Duras’ collaboration with debut feature director Alain Resnais is an epic of love and war, a simply structured idea that revels in the complexity of its uniqueness, the erotic conjoined with the political, in which human flesh becomes covered in the residue of disaster as the couple struggle to understand the past. Hiroshima can never be Nevers in France and the chasm of memory between the lovers is intractable in this brief encounter dictated by history and a need for understanding. An astonishing, transformative film, a properly modern cinematic work as radical now as it was in 1960. With a soundtrack by Georges Delerue and Giovanni Fusco. Hiroshima, c’est ton nom

Emmanuelle Riva 02/24/1927-01/27/2017

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How sad that the legendary French actress Emmanuelle Riva should die just a few weeks before her 90th birthday. But how wonderful that this marvellous talent should be remembered principally with the word ‘amour’ attached to her name. She made history in every sense in the landmark Hiroshima mon amour (1959, Resnais); and again by being nominated aged 85 for an Academy Award for her performance in Amour (2012, Haneke). Both are extraordinary films in so many ways but Hiroshima holds a special place in my heart as my full introduction to French modernism – what a jaw dropping film, especially for a teenager. Pretentious, moi? Mais oui! Riva was a darling of the French auteurs and acted for Melville, Franju, Pontecorvo, Kieslowski, Bellochio and those great ladies Tonie Marshall and Julie Delpy. But she was an actress with a hinterland, boasting an impressive theatre career, taking exhibit-worthy photographs and she published poetry too. She said, I wanted to live another life and many lives at once. Acting makes you live plenty of lives. She did just that. RIP. With amour.