Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Remembering Hiroshima

He: You saw nothing in Hiroshima, nothing
She: I saw everything. Everything
(Hiroshima, Mon Amour a film written by Margurite Duras)

Today August 6, Japan observed a minute of silence to mark the 68th anniversary of the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima.
And I remember Hiroshima, Mon Amour and Margurite Duras. This film implies a powerful critique of nuclear war.

Deform me, to the point of ugliness

Why not you?

Why not you in this city and in this night

 "Beyond the museum reconstructions, there is the memory of the media documentation in process, of being witness to the making of history through newsreels. (The actress) insists, if not upon the credibility of the newsreel, at least upon the phenomenology of having seen the newsreels. Her voice becomes more urgent, and the images move frantically as well. The image track shows actual newsreels taken after 6 August 1945, crosscut with shots of the lovers in shadow:
I saw the newsreels. On the second day, History tells, I'm not making it up, on the second day certain species of animals rose again from the depths of the earth and from the ashes.
Dogs were photographed for all eternity.
I saw them.
I saw the newsreels.
I saw them.
On the first day.
On the second day.
On the third day.

The progression of days passing, each documented and archived for its developments and departure from the previous images, attests to a history, a linear mode of narrative captured for all eternity. But he interrupts:
You saw nothing. Nothing.

Next we have the beginnings of the theme that brings the oppositions of the horrible and the beautiful into an uneasy alliance. As she speaks of beautiful flowers we see images of children, of gaping wounds being probed with instruments, burns, fingers missing, an eye being extracted:
... on the fifteenth day too.
Hiroshima was blanketed with flowers. There were cornflowers and gladiolas everywhere, and morning glories and day lilies that rose again from the ashes with an extraordinary vigour, quite unheard of for flowers till then. I didn't make anything up.
You made it all up.
Just as in love this illusion exists, this illusion of being able never to forget, so I was under the illusion that I would never forget Hirsohima.
Just as in love. [original emphasis]

(Duras 1961: 18-19)

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