by Jaime Grijalba.
Just like Emmanuelle Riva in ‘Hiroshima mon amour’ (1959), I could swear that I knew Hiroshima, I say that I saw it, I saw Hiroshima, I saw this movie, but then along comes my mind, and like Eiji Okada in the same movie comes and tells me that I know nothing, nothing about this movie. I wanted to do something special for the review of this movie, so I turned to my girlfriend, since this is a romance countdown, and asked if she’d be willing to be in a video for a review for Wonders in the Dark, the conversation went as follows.
Gabriela (My girlfriend): A video? No.
Jaime: But, why not?
G: What do I need to do? My voice is cringe-worthy, do I need to speak in English? My English is awful, you know that, I went to the American British School but I know shit about how to speak it.
J: No, no, no. Look, you’d speak in Spanish, and I’ll put subtitles, and…
G: But I don’t want to speak!
J: But why not? Your voice is beautiful!
G: No, it’s not and you know it!
I was getting tired of this conversation already, it was like always, she found herself ugly in some sort of way, and since that’s a lie, I have to fight with her so I can prove my point that she is actually one of the most beautiful people on Earth. Now, when that thing was over, we could come back to the subject of the video I wanted to make about ‘Hiroshima mon amour’.
My idea was to replicate the first scene of the movie, maybe one of the most romantic and wonderful scenes in the history of Film, where Duras and Okada embrace in the dark, and you can feel the power of their love, or their passion, the embrace tightly pulling them together, the camera changing focus or angle, or maybe its their bodies who are moving and shifting around as they make love out of our sight.
Once the credits end, the scene starts, and we see the first embrace, but it’s not one that is alone, it’s covered with what seems sand falling from the ceiling of the room in which they are making love. Then a cross-dissolve shows a similar shot, only that the sand seems to have gone brighter, as if it was glitter, as if the sand had gotten in contact with water. That seems to be as if the sweat of the bodies had taken hold of the sand, moisturizing it, making it something beautiful, as if these bodies shone through decades of love and we received their light for the first time.
I must say that the sand has got me thinking a lot about what it means. Is it really sand or just glitter? What does it mean? Is it real or does it represent something else? I feel that I can give my interpretation, and I don’t know if it’s already been established or if anyone else shares it, but I really haven’t read on it, and I don’t want to, only to don’t realize that I’m wrong or right or if it’s just too obvious. I think that the sand and how it settles, reminds me of the aftermath of an explosion, or even, fallout after the nuclear bomb. It could be a representation that even if this story, their story, their love is something that couldn’t be more far away from the recent history of Japan, they can’t escape it, and the consequences of the Hiroshima bomb still gets to them, as if it were radiation, fallout or the debris that may fall on them because of the destruction of the city.
But I ramble. So, in that scene, we see the couple embracing in different shots, angles, and ways, edited in a very beautiful way. Then, we hear Okada saying that Duras doesn’t know anything about Hiroshima, and she goes on in one of the most beautifully written speeches ever, on how she does know about Hiroshima because she has visited the hospitals, the museums, saw the movies and watched the news; and then she tells how she has lived and experienced, heard about people living there, what happened with the cities, not only the effects of the bomb, but its effects in society. It’s as if we’re given the quickest course to understanding Hiroshima, yet at the same time another voice tells us that it’s not enough, that we don’t know about it at all.
There’s a lot to be said about that contradiction. For starters, there’s the fact that the movie started filming as a documentary and every scene shown in this initial montage was part of it, and I could even go beyond and say that the narration of Duras was pretty much what the original narration for the documentary was going to be, a more closer approach to the subject, pretty much like every other documentary that Resnais had made until that point. Then there’s one of the obsessions of Resnais, the theme about representation and how true that holds in front of reality or documentation of it, or even the true living of the situation, it’s not always the same, and that’s spelled out in the opening, when the Japanese man constantly says that she doesn’t know anything even if she does. She is not Japanese, and she will never understand.
So, that’s what I told my girlfriend that I wanted to do. I wanted to replicate that first scene, not in length but in concept, where I tell her that she doesn’t know about the film Hiroshima mon amour, and how she says that she does, and goes in a speech that would be similar to the one by Duras and she’ll explain what segments of the movie represent better romance and how it plays with the subject and everything that I’ve said so far, so I ask for her permission and this is how the conversation started.
G: I have to be naked?
J: Well, not completely… I mean, I’d cover you and the camera…
G: Are you crazy? I’ve never acted in my life and you want my first experience to be naked?
J: But look at the scene, isn’t it beautiful?
G: Yes, I want to see the movie one day, but it disturbs me with the images and the speech of this woman, it really sets my mind in a bad mood.
J: It’s really one of the greatest movies I’ve ever seen, and how it treats the romance between the characters, and how it all seems so futile in the end, but it just must keep going on, it’s lovely.
G: Don’t tell me more, I wanna see it. But I won’t make the video, you may write about this, but just… let’s think of something else, ok?
And so, here you have it folks, here I am, speaking about what could’ve been. But you have some at least. I have one more movie to write about, and we’ve promised that this time, we’ll make a video about it.