I first reviewed this film, on its Blu Ray release in 2015 by Studio Canal. That was a 1080p riff of a 4K restoration and was not bad. Not bad at all. I spent a lot of that review, talking about the film. I barely mentioned Emmanuelle Riva or Eiji Okada, which was a mistake. I did however mention time, Alain Resnais preoccupation (as well as film makers like Christopher Nolan.) Now that Criterion have continued to release and release bigger and better versions of already available cinema, we need to talk about why you might want this version over that, Studio Canal version that is probably sitting on your shelf. Before we get there, lets get the plot, shall we. Elle (Riva) is a French actress making an anti-war film in Hiroshima. Lui (Okada) is a Japanese architect. Though rebuilt physically, Hiroshima and France are shells. The people are living within a legacy.

The couple are passengers in the world. One fought for the Axis and the other fell in love for the first time with a solider of a lethal regime. He saw death and lived after the bomb came and washed away the land. He also moved on from that. She was shattered at the death of her beloved and made a monster, seen as a occupation agent. Publicly shaved head and demonized. Cast out and sent to a dungeon to live like a monster. This has fractured her place and both are now coming to terms with it. Resnais HIROSHIMA MON AMOR is an act of consciousness, rather than just a political film. Why is war so destructive? What is the link between oppressed and oppressor? And what is buried after horrors? Its gravitational pull is that it asks questions but never forces an answer. It defers them. We are seeing the by product but not the form in total. Peter Cowie great commentary discusses this ‘chattel’ idea. Also the form of cinema used by Resnais to not only expose us to the war horrors but also to extrapolate their action / reaction.

Now Criterion have given us the actual 4K, uncompressed (which is the bigger boon). The highlights are all those intimate studio scenes over the bleached exterior shots that all seem to have just faded a little less. Cowie exceptional commentary tops the bill and is one of the best of the year. Riva interviews explain how she aged with the film and not the other way around. Then I really liked the Jones essay that I think has been around before. Its well researched and delvers head first into why this and not that god awful MARIENBAD is a masterpiece. One being a dressed up film scholar wet dream and the other being an emotionally charged, document of horrors equal to his work on the camps.


  • • New 4K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack
    • Audio commentary by film historian Peter Cowie
    • Interviews with director Alain Resnais from 1961 and 1980
    • Interviews with actor Emmanuelle Riva from 1959 and 2003
    • New interview with film scholar François Thomas, author of L’atelier d’Alain Resnais
    • New interview with music scholar Tim Page about the film’s score
    • Revoir Hiroshima . . . , a 2013 program about the film’s restoration
    • New English subtitle translation
    • PLUS: An essay by critic Kent Jones and excerpts from a 1959 Cahiers du cinéma roundtable discussion about the film

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