Contemporary French Civilization

A fifty-two-year love affair: rewatching Hiroshima mon amour after Fukushima

Contemporary French Civilization (2018), 43, (1), 55–71.

Abstract

The film Hiroshima mon amour (1959), one of the first major Franco-Japanese co-productions, was released the same year in Japan with the title A Twenty-four-hour love affair. The Japanese title’s emphasis on time presents a move away from the film’s historical and political particularity as well as from the space evoked by the name “Hiroshima.” In watching Hiroshima mon amour after the 2011 nuclear disaster at Fukushima Daiichi, the film’s nuclear background, often seen as peripheral to the love story, comes to the fore. This article proposes a post-Fukushima viewing of Hiroshima mon amour that uses the chronotope of the nuclear to analyze the film’s nuclear spatiotemporality and draws parallels to recent Franco-Japanese films about Fukushima. By considering Hiroshima mon amour in the context of Mette Hjort’s definition of “affinitive transnationalism,” this article argues that Alain Resnais’s film can be understood today as an instance of solidarity as well as an opportunity for implicit criticism of France’s own nuclear culture.

Le film Hiroshima mon amour (1959), une des premières grandes coproductions franco-japonaises, est sorti la même année au Japon sous le titre Une affaire de coeur en vingt-quatre heures. Le titre japonais souligne la temporalité du film et s’éloigne de la spécificité historique, politique et spatiale évoquée par le nom “Hiroshima.” Celle-ci passe au premier plan après la catastrophe nucléaire de 2011 à Fukushima Daiichi. À travers une analyse spatiotemporelle du film, cet article introduit le concept du “chronotope du nucléaire” et cherche des échos dans de récents films franco-japonais qui traitent de Fukushima. Aujourd’hui, on peut comprendre le film d’Alain Resnais comme un exemple du “transnationalisme affinitif” de Mette Hjort. Dans ce contexte, le film devient un exemple de solidarité transnationale ainsi qu’une critique implicite de la culture nucléaire en France.

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Holtzman, Hannah