Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Hiroshima, Mon Amour (1959)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Hiroshima, Mon Amour (1959, Fr.)

In Alain Resnais' first feature film, one of the essential French New Wave films, told in a non-linear narrative, about the lengthy conversations between a French woman and her Japanese lover, with brief intercut flashbacks representing their memories:

  • the opening, lengthy montage set in Hiroshima (in the aftermath of the bombing, in August of 1957) of an erotic love scene in a hotel bed during a brief love affair (their first sexual encounter) between two adulterous married individuals - seen first as anonymous people
  • their discreetly-nude bodies were held together and entwined in an embrace - with both radioactive sparkling ash and then rain blowing across their sweaty skin (recollecting the horrific scenes of devastation caused by the atomic bomb at Hiroshima)
Embracing Nude Bodies Recalling the Hiroshima Bombing
  • the visually horrific documentary images of the massive destruction in the blast city seen in reconstructions in the Hiroshima Peace museum, including the photographs of burn victims and mutilated survivors ("...the scorched metal, the twisted metal, metal made as vulnerable as flesh. I saw the bouquet of bottle caps. Who would have thought? Human flesh, suspended, as if still alive, its agony still fresh. Stones, charred stones, shattered stones. Anonymous masses of hair that the women of Hiroshima, upon waking in the morning, would find had fallen out") - although the man denied her assertions that she had seen everything in the museum: "You saw nothing in Hiroshima. Nothing" although she insisted: "I saw everything"
  • the two lovers were: lonely French film actress "Elle/She" (Emmanuelle Riva) who lived in Paris, and Japanese architect "Lui/He" (Eiji Okada) (he had fought in WWII)
  • the sequence of her victimization, shaming and suffering (when it was revealed in France that she had loved a German soldier and her hair was shorn) likened to the victims of the atomic bomb blast
  • after a night of sex and talking, Elle/She stood on the hotel balcony-terrace the next morning wearing a kimono as she drank from a cup, and watching bicyclists on the street far below - she returned to the sight of her still-sleeping lover Lui/He in bed
  • in the so-called "finger-twitch" sequence (the complete sequence was composed of 13 shots and lasted almost two minutes), she looked down at Lui/He's outstretched arm and right hand on the bed that was slightly twitching - suddenly, she had a traumatic, haunting, and terrible subliminal memory returning to 14 years earlier (an intrusion of the past into the present) - to the similar sight of her dying, bloody-faced German lover's twitching hand in Nevers, France (during the liberation of France)
  • when the Japanese man stirred and awoke, she asked: "What were you dreaming about?"; he replied: "I don't know - why?" - she replied: "I watched your hands. They move when you sleep" - in response, he opened and closed his left hand, and said: "Maybe it's when you dream without knowing it" (or "Sometimes a person dreams without knowing it")
  • in the film's ending, they both decided to depart and admitted distance between them - they gave each other names: "Hiroshima is my name" - "And your name is Nevers - in France"
The Two Lovers:

French Film Actress Known as "Elle/She"
(Emmanuelle Riva)

Japanese Architect Known as "Lui/He"
(Eiji Okada)

"Finger Twitch" Sequence Causing Her Subliminal Memories

"What were you dreaming about?"

The Couple's Departure


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