Happy Friday, everyone. Brian Matthew Kim here for the third installment of Criterion Corner. Last week I ranted about Carol Reed’s The Fallen Idol, so this week I’m going to cover a movie I really love: Alain Resnais’ directorial debut, Hiroshima mon amour (1959).
What I like about it: Marguerite Duras’ amazing screenplay. Emmanuelle Riva and Eiji Okada’s performances. The use of stock footage to highlight the atrocities of the atomic bomb. An interracial relationship featuring the rare dynamic of a white woman with an Asian man. How Rasnais captures loneliness, isolation, and displacement.
Favorite scene: The opening. You see two bodies, limbs tangled up in an embrace, but no faces. Light comes in at an angle, reflecting off their skin. They look to be covered in ash (which later switches to a gold-like, glittery substance) and then there’s a dissolve and the bodies are clean, glistening with sweat but otherwise pure. There’s no explicit nudity in the whole sequence, but it’s one of the most intimate series of images I’ve ever seen on film.
Fun fact: Eiji Okada didn’t know how to speak French. He learned his lines phonetically, syllable by syllable.