Alain Resnais A. H. Weiler - Essay

A. H. Weiler

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

If Alain Resnais, producer-director of "Hiroshima, Mon Amour," may be classified a member of the French "new wave," then he also must be listed as riding its crest. For his delicately wrought drama … is a complex yet compelling tour de force—as a patent plea for peace and the abolition of atomic warfare; as a poetic evocation of love lost and momentarily found, and as a curiously intricate but intriguing montage of thinking on several planes in Proustian style.

Although it presents, on occasion, a baffling repetition of words and ideas, much like vaguely recurring dreams, it, nevertheless, leaves the impression of a careful coalescence of art and craftsmanship.

With the assistance of Marguerite Duras, one of France's leading symbolic novelists …, M. Resnais is not merely concerned with the physical aspects of a short (two-day) affair between a Gallic actress, in Hiroshima to make a film, and a Japanese architect. He also explores the meanings of war, the woman's first love and the interchange of thoughts as they emerge during the brief but supercharged romantic interlude.

A viewer, it must be stated at the outset, needs patience in order to appreciate the slow but calculated evolvement of the various levels of the film's drama…. Neither M. Resnais nor Mlle. Duras are direct in their approach….

There is no doubt now that M. Resnais has chosen his proper metier. As a director who set himself an extremely difficult task, he expertly sustains the fragile moods of his theme most of the way. He also illustrates a rare expertise in his ability to show flashbacks….

If "Hiroshima, Mon Amour" is any yardstick, M. Resnais seems to have assured himself a niche in the feature-film field, too.

A. H. Weiler, "'Hiroshima, Mon Amour'," in The New York Times (© 1960 by The New York Times Company; reprinted by permission), May 17, 1960, p. 43.