This is Alain Resnais's first feature length film. It came out in 1959. Resnais had a long history of short films, and this was his first fiction film.
This film was very unusual. It stars two main characters, a french woman and a japanese man. The film is based on a 24 hour encounter that is seperate from the main characters every day life. Due to the fact that it is seperate from every day life, we are able to see more emotional extremes. His family all died during the attack on Hiroshima (he was fighting in the war), and the day he spends with her his family has gone out of town for the day. Throughout the film there is a sense of displacement, she is in Hiroshima filming a movie about peace (which we see being made, which brings us back to the reality that we are in fact watching a film). This film was made only 14 years after WWII so emotions were still strong and high.
This film had no real beginning, middle or end. It is very anti-naturalistic and very stylized. Goddard was once quoted as saying "every film must have a beginning, middle and end, just not necessarily in that order". The flashbacks in this film seem like normal flashbacks but in reality the flashbacks seem to be memories with narration over it.
The film starts with close up of their bodies inter-twined. At first you dont even understand what you are seeing. The first 15 minutes of the film consist of some shots of actual documnetary clips from the destruction of Hiroshima. The film is very focused on time and memory. When the woman begins to tell her story, she becomes confused as to whom she is telling it to, and what is happening. When she is telling us about her love, the german solider, we never see a close up of his face. When we do see his face it s covered by a shadow. This might mean that her memory has faded, which would also explain as to why as she is telling her story to the japanese man, she calls him you (refering to the german solider).
This film was constantlky twisting and turning. While very enjoyable, it was somewhat hard to follow, as you had to constantly be aware of what was story, what was true, and what was memory.