Hiroshima Mon Amour (1959)

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Released 31-Mar-2008

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio
Featurette-A Brilliant Career - The Films of Alain Resnais
Teaser Trailer-Umbrella Trailers
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1959
Running Time 86:20 (Case: 96)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Alain Resnais
Studio
Distributor
Argos Films
Umbrella Entertainment
Starring Emmanuelle Riva
Eiji Okada
Stella Dassas
Pierre Barbaud
Bernard Fresson
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $29.95 Music Georges Delerue
Giovanni Fusco


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Unknown French Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.37:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

French director, Alain Resnais began his long and distinguished career as a commissioned documentary filmmaker. Although one of his early documentaries, Van Gough, won an Oscar in 1950, it was his 1955 short film, Night and Fog (Nuit et brouillard ) that brought the filmmaker worldwide recognition. This thirty-two minute film documenting the horrors of Nazi concentration camps is widely regarded as one of the best documentaries ever made. The film was groundbreaking and still has incredible impact on an audience, even by today's standards.

While his body of work stretches as far back as 1936, it wasn't until 1959 that Resnais made his first feature film - Hiroshima Mon Amour. Along with Night and Fog, Hiroshima Mon Amour would become arguably the most respected film in the filmography of Alain Resnais.

The original concept for Hiroshima Mon Amour was to document the aftermath of the bombing of Hiroshima - the city and its people. However, this concept changed when Resnais' friend and colleague, Chris Marker decided to leave the project. With Chris' departure Alain Resnais contemplated the possibility of making the film as a drama, with the city still holding prominence. He met with the renowned French novelist, Marguerite Duras and she agreed to write a screenplay.

Using the background of post-war Hiroshima to brilliant effect, Duras wrote a screenplay that metaphorically parallels the resurrection of the city with the emotional healing of the lead character. The film explores memory, the distortion of memory and the loss of memory through the lives of two unidentified lovers. Throughout the film, the two central characters remain nameless and it isn't until the final scene that they are given identity.

While he's technically not a member of the French New Wave, Alain Resnais has been no less innovative throughout his career. In 1959, Hiroshima Mon Amour was unique in its method of conveying the flashback sequences. Although these techniques are common place in modern cinema, they shattered convention in their day and added a new dimension to cinema.

Hiroshima Mon Amour opens with a tight shot of two embracing bodies. With minimal movement, we can see that the naked skin is covered with fine ash. The image is accompanied by obscure voice-over dialogue, which will later reveal its source. Resnais lays bare the very soul of the film in the first few minutes - memories.

Some fifteen minutes into the film, we find the source of the dialogue. After a very brief relationship, a Japanese architect (Eiji Okada) and his lover, a French actress (Emmanuelle Riva) are about to part company - probably forever. While at first their relationship seems to be long term, we soon learn that both are married to other partners and their encounter is simply a one-night-stand. The woman is due to return to Paris when her filming schedule is completed later that day.

Their talk of memories has stirred uncomfortable emotions in the woman. She remembers a time in Nevers, France, when she was humiliated and locked away in a dingy cellar because of her forbidden love affair with a German soldier. This has left a psychological legacy that prevents her from fully accepting a commitment of love.

Both have suffered loses in the war - he in Hiroshima and she on the other side of the world in Nevers, France. Even though they barely know each other, the man realises that his love for her is genuine and time is slipping by.

Hiroshima Mon Amour is a rich and rewarding film experience that only improves with every subsequent viewing. It is simply impossible to absorb everything in this film with one viewing.

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Transfer Quality

Video

Hiroshima Mon Amour is actually presented in an aspect ratio of 1.35:1, which is not 16x9 enhanced. This is extremely close to the correct aspect ratio of 1.37:1.

Apart from the occasional presence of inherent film grain, the transfer displayed an excellent degree of sharpness. Blacks were clean and shadows held good detail.

Hiroshima Mon Amour was filmed in glorious black and white, so there are no colour issues to comment on.

There were no MPEG artefacts. A couple of very brief instances of telecine wobble were noticed, but otherwise film-to-video artefacts were well controlled. Thankfully, film artefacts were infrequent and minor in detail.

The only available subtitles are English. They are removable and easily legible in bold white.

This is a dual layer, DVD 9 disc. I could not locate the layer change by any means.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

There is only one audio track on the DVD, French Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)

There were no apparent problems with dialogue quality or audio sync.

The original music score by Georges Delerue and Giovanni Fusco is predominantly piano based. This wonderfully rich score really does add another dimension to the film.

The surround channels and subwoofer were not used.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menu

The main menu is static and features a sample of music from the film.

Featurette: A Brilliant Career - The Films of Alain Resnais (47:21)

Umbrella have developed a reputation for producing quality, retrospective documentaries and this one is no exception. This time the subject is obviously the film career of Alain Resnais. The discussion is conducted by Peter Hourigan, who is a film tutor at CAE Melbourne and is also a writer for Senses of Cinema. Peter discusses the filmmaking career of Resnais in some detail, offering great insight into the man and his films. This documentary also includes footage from many of Resnais' films. Recommended viewing.

Umbrella Trailers

  • The 400 Blows (3:57)
  • Jules and Jim (3:19)
  • L`Avventura (2:21)

    R4 vs R1

    NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    There is a R1, Criterion edition of Hiroshima Mon Amour, which contains the following extras.

  • Audio Commentary by film scholar, Peter Cowie
  • Isolated music & effects track
  • Excerpts from screenwriter, Marguerite Duras' screenplay annotations
  • Interview with Alain Resnais
  • Interviews with Emmanuelle Riva
  • 32-page insert booklet

    There is also a UK, R2 edition of the film, released by Nouveaux Pictures in February, 2005. This edition features an image gallery of 13 stills from the film. It also includes a thirty-one minute documentary titled, Hiroshima ou la temps dun retour, which is about the early life of Alain Resnais and the film, Hiroshima Mon Amour.

    Summary

    The destruction of Hiroshima eventually spawned regeneration and hope for its population, both in body and in spirit. Alain Resnais' Hiroshima Mon Amour is a poetic film, portraying the renaissance of the city in metaphoric parallel with one woman's struggle to except a commitment of love back into her life.

    The video and audio transfers are quite good.

    The only extra on the disc is relevant and interesting.


  • Ratings (out of 5)

    Video
    Audio
    Extras
    Plot
    Overall

    © Steve Crawford (Tip toe through my bio)
    Saturday, July 19, 2008
    Review Equipment
    DVDJVC XV-N412, using Component output
    DisplayHitachi 106cm Plasma Display 42PD5000MA (1024x1024). Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080i.
    Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
    AmplificationPanasonic SA-HE70 80W Dolby Digital and DTS
    SpeakersFronts: Jensen SPX7 Rears: Jensen SPX4 Centre: Jensen SPX13 Subwoofer: Jensen SPX17

    Other Reviews NONE
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