Photos of Hiroshima by Hiroshima Mon Amour Star Emmanuelle Riva (1958)

hiroshima mon amour pix

Hiroshi­ma Mon Amour, Alain Resnais’s land­mark 1960 med­i­ta­tion on war and mem­o­ry, was Emmanuelle Riva’s first star­ring role. She plays a mar­ried actress (catch a scene here) who, while mak­ing a movie in Japan, has an affair with a Japan­ese archi­tect played by Eiji Oka­da. Screen­writer Mar­guerite Duras chis­els away at the actress’s Gal­lic reserve over the course of the film as mem­o­ries of the war, not to men­tion guilt over the affair, over­whelm her. Resnais lingers on Riva’s face as she comes apart. Her per­for­mance is as brave as it is exact. French film crit­ic Jean Domarchi once stat­ed, “Hiroshi­ma is a doc­u­men­tary on Emmanuelle Riva.”


As it turns out, Riva was doc­u­ment­ing Hiroshi­ma too. While film­ing on loca­tion, she took a series of pho­tographs of every­day life of a city still recov­er­ing from the war. They are a fas­ci­nat­ing slice of life from a Japan that has long dis­ap­peared. The Hiroshi­ma Riva cap­tured was still dom­i­nat­ed by dirt roads and wood­en build­ings. Peo­ple still reg­u­lar­ly wore tra­di­tion­al geta wood­en shoes.

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Chil­dren seemed to be a favorite sub­ject for Riva. She pho­tographs a flock of ele­men­tary school stu­dents walk­ing to school; a pair of boys fish­ing before the gen­baku dome – ground zero for the bomb; and a gag­gle of kids star­ing agog into the lens, no doubt curi­ous at the sight of a styl­ish French woman with an expen­sive cam­era.

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Years lat­er, Riva’s pic­tures were col­lect­ed into a book called Hiroshi­ma 1958, which, sad­ly, seems to be avail­able only in Japan. Riva, of course, went on to a cel­e­brat­ed act­ing career, includ­ing an Oscar-nom­i­nat­ed turn in Michael Haneke’s har­row­ing love sto­ry Amour.

hma 5via RocketNews24

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Watch Alain Resnais’ Short, Evoca­tive Film Toute la mémoire du monde (1956)

Haunt­ing Unedit­ed Footage of the Bomb­ing of Nagasa­ki (1945)

Aki­ra Kuro­sawa & Gabriel Gar­cía Márquez Talk About Film­mak­ing (and Nuclear Bombs) in Six Hour Inter­view

Jonathan Crow is a Los Ange­les-based writer and film­mak­er whose work has appeared in Yahoo!, The Hol­ly­wood Reporter, and oth­er pub­li­ca­tions. You can fol­low him at @jonccrow. And check out his blog Veep­to­pus, fea­tur­ing lots of pic­tures of vice pres­i­dents with octo­pus­es on their heads.  The Veep­to­pus store is here.

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